After a summer full of confusion and high hopes for many Boston Celtics’ fans, the wait is over. September 1, 2017, marks the first official day of the Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward era. It may have taken Danny Ainge 22 trades since the infamous Brooklyn heist to get the Celtics to where they are now, but boy did he do a fabulous job. Marshon Brooks, Kris Humphries, and Keith Bogans turning into Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, and Al Horford is the real definition of starting from the bottom.
You see Danny Ainge smiling in that picture from four years ago? Yeah, at that very moment Danny Ainge knew exactly what he was doing. When Danny Ainge traded away beloved Celtics’ legends Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, he pushed the reset button and started the team from scratch. This trade turned into the core of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, Al Horford, and Kyrie Irving; three stars and two potential stars.
The Celtics are in a great position to dominate the league for years to come, but it was a “long” road to get here. Actually, it wasn’t as long as most expected. The season after the Brooklyn trade happened, fans knew we’d suck, which we did. The Celtics went 25-57 in their first year without Pierce/KG. The season after the Celtics acquired Jae Crowder and Isaiah Thomas. The Celtics had an unbelievable second half of the year, finishing 40-42, and snuck into the playoffs as the seventh seed. Two years into a “rebuild” and they made the playoffs. Interesting. Cleveland swept them, but the growth the Celtics made after acquiring Isaiah Thomas gave the fans hope. The Celtics finished the next season as the fifth seed, but once again losing in the first round. The Celtics went out and signed another superstar to put next to Isaiah Thomas, who, at the time, was slowly becoming the man in Boston. Last season was one of the more memorable seasons in recent Celtics’ history. Isaiah Thomas became an All-NBA player, proving himself as a superstar in the league, and the Celtics finished with the best record in the Eastern Conference Finals. As we all know, Boston met up once again with Cleveland, losing the series 4-1. Isaiah’s hip injury raised some questions about where he’d be to start the season, and with Gordon Hayward hitting the free agent market, fans had high hopes for the offseason.
Fast forward to now, where the Celtics are coming off of a 52-win season, but with only four players remaining from that team. The Celtics had a rollercoaster of an offseason so far, which started with landing and trading away the first overall pick in the NBA Draft. Instead of taking Markelle Fultz, like many expected, Ainge traded the pick for another high pick next year and the third pick, where Boston took Jayson Tatum. The Celtics then signed the biggest free agent on the market in Gordon Hayward, which was the fireworks that everybody believed Danny Ainge and management has been talking about for all these years. Little did we know that Trader Danny had something bigger planned. The Celtics pulled off an out-of-nowhere blockbuster trade to send beloved players Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder, along with Ante Zizic, a 2nd round pick, and the 2018 Brooklyn pick for Kyrie Irving. We all knew Kyrie was on the trade block and could’ve been dealt at any time, but not many people could’ve predicted the Celtics being the team to pull the trigger. Giving up Isaiah was the hardest part. Giving up a player who was so loved and respected by the Boston fan base, gone. Trading away the highly coveted Brooklyn pick didn’t make it feel that much better either. But as time went on, I realized that we got Kyrie Freaking Irving. The man that hit one of the greatest shots in NBA history in game seven of the NBA Finals, which helped win Cleveland their first NBA title. We’re talking about the 25-year-old who has been to three straight NBA Finals and has the filthiest handles and crossover moves in the league. We’re talking about a player who is coming off of a 25 ppg season and is still yet to enter his prime. Putting that type of player in Brad Steven’s system, and next to stars like Gordon Hayward and Al Horford should make any fans’ mouths water. I know mine is.
There will be a lot of pressure for these star players entering the season. The expectations will be sky high, and every wrong move with be critiqued and analyzed. Kyrie and Hayward know this. Kyrie is looking forward to feeling the pressure and being able to spread his wings and fly in a Boston uniform. Gordon Hayward said, “‘I’m excited to get the season started.” In response, Kyrie said to Hayward, “It’s gonna be crazy, G.” Now I’m not saying that these two are going to be best friends, but they may already be best friends. Hayward told a story during their introductory press conference about when Kyrie tried recruiting Hayward to Cleveland in 2013 when he was a restricted free agent. He then jokingly acknowledged how LeBron came back and squashed that idea. But things come around full circle, as Hayward said. I mean, these guys share the same birthday. IT WAS MEANT TO BE.
We are entering an era in which should be as equally exciting if not more exciting than the Big 3 era, which began 10 years ago. When the Big 3 came together, they all had one goal in mind; to win a championship. They did win a championship together the year after an continued to contend as long as they were together. With Kyrie and Hayward coming into Boston, they both have that same goal in mind, but instead have years ahead of them to contend for multiple championships. Pierce, Garnett, and Allen didn’t get the chance to play alongside each other in their primes. They joined up when they were just exiting their primes. Kyrie and Hayward are alongside two potential future stars in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, and of course proven star Al Horford. Especially if Kyrie signs an extension, which is expected, fans will be able to see many, many years of Kyrie and company taking control of the Eastern Conference. The Warriors will still be the team to beat, but don’t tell that to Kyrie and Hayward. Although they’re the best team in the NBA, Kyrie, Hayward, and company will work their hardest to dethrone the infamous superteam known as the Golden State Warriors. And when they’re time is up, Boston will come knocking at the door of the NBA Finals and secure championship number 18.
These are very exciting times for Boston fans. It’s sad seeing fan favorite players go, but at the end of the day it’s a business and the business is to try and win as many championships as you can. Boston fans, it is time to rejoice. Danny Ainge has put together a solid group of players who want to come in and compete. Our roster isn’t just built up of overachievers, but real superstars that can take us to the next level. As we’ve seen this offseason, Danny isn’t afraid to shake up the roster. He may go after another superstar when the time comes, *wink* *wink*, Anthony Davis. We’ll travel down that road later on, but let’s try and keep it in the back of our minds. Until then, let’s celebrate: Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward are Boston Celtics and are ready to take the league by storm.