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The Danny Ainge Anniversary Party

The Celtics celebrated the front office's last good move … here's what transpired

Editor’s Note: If you’ve read my column over the years, you know that nothing good can happen for a floundering Celtics team until I write a vicious column counting them out, attacking them and/or just plain eviscerating them. This is my last-ditch effort to save the 2012 Celtics season.

With the four-year anniversary of Danny Ainge’s last good move occurring on Monday, the Celtics inexplicably threw an anniversary party and televised the proceedings on Comcast Sports New England. The event took place at the Hilltop Steakhouse on Route 1 in Saugus, which was chosen for a variety of reasons, but mainly because it peaked years ago … you know, kind of like the 2012 Celtics. I couldn’t attend, but I watched the telecast and typed down everything that happened. Here’s a transcript.

[We see a wide shot of a crowded restaurant, followed by people halfheartedly applauding and someone stepping up to the podium.]

Glenn Ordway: “Hello, everyone, and welcome to the four-year anniversary party for Danny Ainge’s last good move! I’m Glenn Ordway, one of the co-hosts of ‘The Big Show,’ WEEI’s drive-time afternoon show. You might know me for my declining ratings and limited appeal, which happened not just because of my advancing age, but because the Bruins took off locally … in other words, I’m just like the Celtics! [Everyone laughs.] Danny, we’re here tonight because you haven’t made a good move in four solid years. Do you remember what that was?”

[The camera cuts to Danny nodding grimly.]

Ordway: “February 27, 2008. That was the day you signed P.J. Brown, a valuable bench player for that season’s championship team. If you remember, P.J. hit a couple of key jumpers down the stretch in Game 7 of the Cleveland series — had he missed them, your 66-win team would have blown a second-round series to a team whose second-best player was Delonte West, and Doc Rivers would have spent the past four years calling ABC games with Mike Breen.”

[Cut to Doc nodding emphatically.]

Ordway: “Unfortunately, it’s been slim pickings for Celtics fans ever since. You drafted poorly; you signed a slew of washed-up veterans; your biggest trade completely backfired; you haven’t uncovered a single gem; and you’ve managed to piss off all the starters on your team by repeatedly throwing them into trade talks, then ADMITTING IT PUBLICLY while calling these players old. It’s been quite a run. Let’s bring out two of those lousy signings right now … ladies and gentlemen, Keyon Dooling and Chris Wilcox!”

[Everyone applauds. Dooling and Wilcox take the stage.]

Dooling: “Danny, thanks for signing us for a combined $5.226 million this season. I certainly never thought I’d make that kind of money again.”

Wilcox: “Neither did I.”

Dooling: “You believed we could become key bench players for a contender, even though neither of us has had a relevant basketball moment in four or five years. It’s like you never saw us play.”

Wilcox: “Plus, you counted on me to hold up during a condensed season even though I get injured EVERY SINGLE YEAR.”

Dooling: “He’s not kidding — from 2007 to 2011, Chris played 215 of a possible 328 games.”

Wilcox: “I’m injured right now! I have a strained right adductor or something.”

Dooling: “Danny, you could have signed reliable bench players like Kurt Thomas, Reggie Evans, Shannon Brown, Earl Watson, Mike Dunleavy — “

Wilcox: “Or, you could have waited and held your free-agent exceptions for a chance at Kenyon Martin, J.R. Smith or maybe even Aaron Brooks. Or, you could have just signed minimum-salary guys. Instead, the two of us cost $10.5 million including the luxury-tax hit.”

[Cut to Celtics owners Wyc Grousbeck, Jim Pallotta and Steve Pagliuca grimacing.]

Wilcox: “Again, thank you. We look forward to becoming Keyon Dooling’s Expiring Contract and Chris Wilcox’s Expiring Contract as soon as we’re eligible to be traded on March 1.”

Dooling: “Just don’t trade us to Charlotte!”

[Everyone laughs and applauds. They exit the stage.]

Ordway: “I want to bring out my co-host for tonight’s event — he’s a Hall of Famer, he won 10 rings as a player and coach in Boston, he’s been announcing Celtics games for the past three decades, he’s the creator of Tommy Points, and he’s the man who once compared Leon Powe to Moses Malone … here he is, the great Tommy Heinsohn!!!!!”

[Standing ovation, loud applause.]

Heinsohn: “Thanks, Gary. Thanks, everybody. I gotta be honest, I don’t know why we’re here tonight — I think Danny has made some GREAT moves over these past few years!”

Ordway: “Really?”

Heinsohn: “Absolutely! Greg Stiemsma reminds me of a guy I used to play with … a guy by the name of William Felton Russell! Same timing on his blocks. It’s EERIE! And this Avery Bradley kid reminds me of K.C. Jones; you gotta keep an eye on him. He’s an UNBELIEVABLE defender. Danny stole that kid, I honestly believe that. And here’s another kid he stole in the draft — please welcome one of the league’s most promising centers, DeAndre Jordan!

[Cut to the crowd applauding but looking confused.]

Jordan: “For the record, the Celtics didn’t draft me in 2008 — they passed on me with the last pick of the first round to take J.R. Giddens. I play for the Clippers.”

Heinsohn [in background]: “Yeah, but still!”

Jordan: “I was supposed to be a lottery pick and fell 20 spots. If anyone was going to take a flier on me, it should have been Boston. I could have learned from KG and become another Perkins. When Danny passed me up for a selfish 24-year-old gunner who had just spent six years in college and wouldn’t have a relevant NBA moment, it was something of a wake-up call. Four years later, I’m starting on a contender, I’m third in the league in blocks, and I’m making $10 million a year. Danny, thanks for passing on me even though it was the easiest sleeper pick in the world!”

[Cut to Danny nodding grimly as the crowd applauds. Jordan exits the stage, but not before chest-bumping Giddens, who's waiting tables tonight.]

Ordway: “Our next guest was nearly arrested for stealing money during the 2009-10 season. After signing for $18.9 million as Danny’s big offseason move, he showed up out of shape, remained that way and broke the team’s record for ‘most mailed-in practices.’ A horrendous influence on younger teammates, this man was so reviled by fans that you could make a case he’s the least popular Celtic ever.”

Heinsohn [in background]: “My vote still goes to Curtis Rowe!!!!”

Ordway: “Hold on, Tommy, I’m not close to being done yet. Our next guest also became the first NBA player to play an entire regular season out of shape, then use actual playoff rounds for his conditioning. In Game 7 of the NBA Finals, he was forced to play 35 minutes because of Kendrick Perkins’ injury — he ran out of steam and the Lakers ended up with an 18-rebound advantage, one of the biggest reasons Boston lost that game. If he had cared even 10 percent more, the Celtics would have won the title that year. Then again, how can you care 10 percent more if you don’t care at all? Thankfully, he retired and saved fans from watching him loaf for two more years while simultaneously killing Boston’s cap. And now, he’s loafing onto the stage … ladies and gentlemen, Rasheed Wallace!!!”

[We hear some scattered boos and jeers, but the members of the Celtics are inexplicably applauding. We see KG happily point to Rasheed.]

Wallace: “Danny, I’m mailing in this speech like I mailed in that season. Ball don’t lie! Thank you!”

[Rasheed exits the stage laughing and heads back to the buffet table.]

Ordway: “Rasheed Wallace, everybody! Rasheed wasn’t the only washed-up veteran that Danny overpaid these past few years. After catching a remarkable stroke of cap luck when Rasheed retired with two years left on his deal, Danny quickly overpaid another washed-up big man, giving Rasheed’s money to the man who was supposed to be our next guest. Unfortunately, he tweaked his back getting out of a cab — “

Heinsohn: “Actually, I heard he rolled an ankle.”

Ordway: “Whatever happened, Jermaine O’Neal was unable to go tonight. Or any night. He does send his regards, so please, a round of applause for yet another Jermaine O’Neal D.N.P.”

[Crowd applauds.]

Ordway: “Our next guest never played for the Celtics, but you know him as the Roastmaster General, someone who delights in the misfortune of others … ladies and gentlemen, comedian Jeffrey Ross!”

[We hear zany music as the crowd applauds.]

Ross: “Thanks, Glenn! Wow, it’s great to be in the same room with so many talented basketball minds — and Danny Ainge. [Crowd laughs, but not as hard as Jeff wanted.] God, look at you people … cheer up! It’s just basketball! I haven’t seen this many white people this upset since they canceled ER! [Scattered laughs.] Hey, I heard Paul Pierce is speaking tonight, is that true? Paul was on a seafood diet during the lockout — he see food, he eat it. [Crowd groans.] Too soon? C’mon man, I don’t want to say Paul Pierce showed up fat for the season, but the chef from Legal Sea Foods tried to harpoon him! [Crowd groans.] Whoa, tough crowd, tough crowd. This Celtics season has everyone on edge. Who’s running this team, Danny Ainge or Danny Bonaduce? [More groans.] Danny, you’re two games under .500? Who has worse luck with basketball players — you or Kim Kardashian? [Crowd groans.] Really? No on that one? [Shakes his head.] Did you guys know that Danny is starting a new social movement in the NBA? It’s called Occupy Lottery. [More groans. Jeff starts sifting through his notes.] Man, you guys are brutal. Not as bad as Danny, though — I mean, I knew Mormons could marry multiple wives, I didn’t know they could marry multiple bad contracts!”

[More groans. Tommy finally punches Ross from behind and throws him offstage.]

Heinsohn: “I had just about enough of Jack Ross — that’s the hardest I’ve hit someone since I punched out Rudy LaRusso in the 1965 Finals. Let’s bring out one of the greatest Celtics of all time and someone I would have loved to play with once upon a time, the one, the only, Paul ‘The Truth’ Pierce!”

[Standing ovation, crowd goes bonkers.]

Pierce: “Thanks, Tommy. Thanks, everybody. I just want Jeff Ross to know that I ate a salad tonight! [Crowd laughs.] Danny — thanks for ruining the last couple years of my prime, and also for making it clear that you’d trade anyone on the roster, as well as lumping me in with everyone else as one of your quote-unquote ‘aging players.’ I gave my heart and soul to the Celtics these past 12 years and want to retire here someday. Thanks for shitting on that, and thanks for making everyone on this team feel like you’d gut them the moment you could if someone offered you a decent deal. I guess the best thing I can say about you is that at least you’re honest. Thanks for reminding me over the past few years that sports is a business, and the rest of this rah-rah Ubuntu stuff is total bullshit. Danny Ainge, everybody!”

[He storms off. The crowd doesn't know what to do … finally, they applaud. Ainge looks like he wants to pour gasoline on himself and light a match.]

Heinsohn: “Danny, I want to read a telegram from someone who couldn’t be here tonight. The telegram reads, ‘Danny, thanks for being the last NBA GM to believe in me. I still can’t believe you relied on me during the 2009 playoffs even though I shouldn’t have been relied upon to successfully execute a fast-food order at that point. I wish I could be there, but I’m playing in a semi-pro league in China for $43 a game. Best wishes, Stephon Marbury.’ Bing, bang, boom! Who’s next, Gino?”

Ordway: “Only 12 months ago, Danny’s Celtics were the favorites to win the 2011 NBA title. That didn’t stop you from trading your starting center and defensive anchor for a bench player who never fit in and a draft pick you’ll almost definitely screw up. The Celtics were 41-14 when you made the trade and 35-33 since. Oh, and the player you acquired, Jeff Green, missed the 2012 season after having heart surgery. Thankfully he’s OK, but when you add everything up, that was one of the worst trades in Boston sports history, right?

[Danny nods grimly.]

Ordway: “Let’s bring out best friends who were broken up by that trade — ladies and gentlemen, Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins!”

[Cut to a standing ovation and loud applause. We see Perk fighting off tears and Rondo looking uncomfortable.]

Rondo: “Danny, we built our championship team around the African word ‘Ubuntu,’ which means ‘togetherness.’ We trusted each other and believed in each other.”

Perk: “And in our coach.”

Rondo: “That bond held for nearly three and a half years. Then, you took that word and flushed it down the toilet by trading Perk, my best friend and someone who loved being a Celtic more than anyone.”

Perk: “You also gambled that Shaq — who was 38 years old, injured and overweight at the time — could somehow recover, play himself back into shape and take my minutes in the playoffs.”

Rondo: “Yeah, right. It only got worse this summer after you told me you wanted to build the team around me … then spent the entire month of December trying to trade me for Chris Paul.”1

Perk: “Here’s what I don’t get — you already made it clear that you have no loyalty to your players, so why not use the amnesty clause for the final year of KG’s deal and go for Tyson Chandler or Marc Gasol?”

Rondo [to Perk]: “Because he was saving his cap space for a free-agent superstar this summer, like that could happen.”

Perk: “Yeah, because free agents looooooooooooooooove signing with Boston. The last marquee free agent the Celtics signed was Dominique Wilkins in 1994 — “

Rondo: “And he was washed up.”

Perk: “The best free agents don’t want any part of Boston, Danny. They want to play in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Texas, Florida, Arizona or California.”

Rondo: “Yeah, either a top-three market, warm weather or no taxes.”

Perk: “I know you’re telling everyone that you’re saving your cap space for Dwight Howard and Deron Williams, but lemme ask you something — why would they possibly pick Boston over Cuban and no state taxes in Dallas, or Jay-Z and the New York market in Brooklyn?”

Rondo: “And how do you think that plan makes me feel? I’m already playing on the worst possible team for my game — you know what it’s like to be a one-man fast break playing with a bunch of old farts who can’t get up the floor? Now I’m not good enough to play with Dwight Howard?”

Perk: “Yeah, my man Rajon was already a moody loner BEFORE he found out about this Howard/Williams plan.”

Rondo: “Now I play hard once a month, throw balls at referees and check out on Doc every time he tries to lean on me.”

[Cut to Doc nodding solemnly.]

Perk: “Anyway, well done, Danny — thanks for teaching us that sports is a business, that you should never feel safe, that hard work isn’t something that should be appreciated, and that words like ‘Ubuntu’ really mean ‘Ubullshit.’”

Rondo: “One last time for Danny … “

[They put their fists together.]

Rondo and Perk: “One, two, three … Ubullshit!”

[They exit the stage as the crowd applauds. We see Danny glancing around looking for the exit sign.]

Heinsohn: “Here’s someone who would have won us a title last season had he stayed healthy, which was impossible because he weighed 675 pounds by the end of the season. He’s one of the greatest centers of all time, the star of Kazaam and the worst superstar-turned-studio analyst since Joe Montana … ladies and gentlemen, Shaquille O’Neal!”

Shaq [monotone]: “Dannyyourolledthedicewithmelastyearbytradingperkins … yourwholeseasondependingonmestayinghealthy … thisseemedunlikelysinceIcouldntwalkwhenyoumadethedeal … needlesstosayInevermadeitbackandretiredsoonafter … forfourstraightyearsyouvecountedonawashedupveteranwhoretiredaftertheseason … yesimincludingjermaineoneal … mightbetimetostopdoingthat … ilookforwardtoworkingwithyouontntinninemonths.”

[Shaq waves to the crowd and walks offstage. A couple of confused seconds pass. Ordway scurries to the stage.]

Ordway: “I guess he finished the speech — Shaquille O’Neal, everybody! Our next guest grew up in Concord, graduated from Concord Carlisle High School and Emerson College, and eventually became one of the league’s most respected GMs for Oklahoma City. In a perfect world, the Celtics would fire Danny and make this man a Godfather offer to come home, but as we know by now, the world ain’t perfect. Please welcome Sam Presti!”

[Crowd applauds and chants "WE WANT SAM! WE WANT SAM!"]

Presti: “Thanks, everybody. Please know that I’m not leaving Oklahoma City — in case you forgot, I have Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. But it kills me to see what’s happening to the Celtics. Danny, the worst place you can be in the NBA is ‘no man’s land’ — you either need to bottom out or make a run, but you can’t tread water. It’s an either/or thing. Doing nothing and praying you MIGHT get Dwight Howard just because players like playing for Doc … I mean, nobody signs with a team because of a coach.”2

[Cut to Doc nodding vigorously.]

Presti: “If you want to improve this year’s team, turn your expiring contracts — KG, Ray, Chris, Keyon and Jermaine — into better players and don’t worry about cap space. For instance, let’s say you offered KG’s expiring contract to Dallas for Shawn Marion and Lamar Odom3 — Cuban might jump at that because he’s desperately trying to clear money for Dwight and Deron this summer. He needs to dump Marion’s deal to do it. That’s why you see him on Twitter pimping Marion to boost his trade value — it’s comical. Turn KG into Odom and Marion and you’re better right away — Marion is still one of the league’s best defensive players. Plus, you’d save about $4 million in tax money.”

[Cut to Grousbeck, Pallotta and Pagliuca happily nudging each other.]

Presti: “Next up, Rondo — I know he’s fun to watch, but you can’t build around someone that moody and unreliable, especially when any smart defense plays six feet off him in close games. That’s why I shot down your 197 different Westbrook/Rondo offers, buddy. But the Lakers are panicking — they know Gasol is checking out, they desperately need a point guard and they can’t afford to keep him AND Kobe on their cap. You have them by the balls here. I don’t care if Gasol is 31 — he’s the most skilled big man in the league, he has four or five quality years left, he’s under contract through 2014 (same as Pierce), he’ll be extra motivated after the trade, and maybe he’d rejuvenate Odom since they played so well together once upon a time. He’d be the best low-post guy you’ve had since Kevin McHale — ”

Heinsohn [in background]: “Or Dino Radja!”

Presti: “Anyway, offer them Rondo and Jermaine O’Neal’s expiring for Gasol, a deal which saves them $24 million in tax money these next three years.4 I can’t imagine them turning it down. You’d need a point guard, too, so offer Ray to the Clippers for Mo Williams and Eric Bledsoe. They desperately need a two-guard; they might be dumb enough to say yes.5 If they turn it down, settle on Mo and a future first for Ray, if only because it’s always good to own two first-rounders from the league’s most jinxed franchise. Mo’s contract expires next year, and you can always re-sign Ray this summer.”

[Cut to Danny frantically trying to write all of this down on a cocktail napkin.]

Presti: “Look at your new team — Gasol, Brandon Bass, Marion, Pierce and Mo Williams as starters, with Odom, Wilcox, Pietrus and Bradley as your first four subs. If Gasol and Odom get going, that’s a dangerous 6-seed in the East, right?”

Heinsohn [in background]: “And you forgot about Stiemsma!!!!!”

Presti: “Danny, you could make three more playoff runs before Gasol, Marion and Pierce come off your cap.6 You know who’s a free agent in 2014? LEBRON JAMES! DWYANE WADE! If you want to live in this pretend fantasy world where marquee free agents sign with Boston even though it’s never actually happened, you may as well go for the biggest ones, right?”

Heinsohn [in background]: “I … like … PRESTI!”

Presti: “Instead, you’re doing nothing — you’re going to get crushed by Miami or Chicago in Round 1, you’ll let KG and Ray leave this summer, then you’re going to see what happens with Rondo, Pierce, two first-round picks and $24 million in cap space. Maybe you’ll make a run, maybe you’ll blow it up. Regardless, how could Celtics fans feel confident? You’re the same guy who tried to trade Al Jefferson and a future no. 1 for Robert Swift. You traded for Raef LaFrentz when he had one of the league’s worst contracts. You gave $57 million to Mark Blount and Brian Scalabrine. You traded the no. 7 pick in the draft for Sebastian Telfair. You signed Rasheed Wallace for THREE YEARS! If I didn’t trade you Ray Allen, you were taking Yi Jianlian with the no. 5 pick!”

Heinsohn [in background]: “The Chairman!”

Presti: “So the thought of you ‘rebuilding’ again sounds a little dicey. Especially because there’s no way Pierce will want to be involved, which means you’ll have to take 50 cents on the dollar for him. Why not make one last run around Pierce, Gasol and whatever else you can get for KG and Ray? And by the way, if you think Celtics season ticket holders are falling for the whole ‘Renew your tickets this spring, we’re blowing things up for Dwight Howard, and if that doesn’t work, LOTTERY BALLS!!!’ Jedi mind trick again, you’re crazy. Right, Celtics fans? Maybe we’ll meet again someday.”

[Standing ovation for Presti and more "WE WANT SAM!" chants. Cut to Danny still writing frantically.]

Heinsohn: “Thanks, Cam. Our next speaker helped the Celtics win titles in 1981, 1984 and 1986, then won us another in 2008 by gift-wrapping us Kevin Garnett. Ladies and gentlemen, the one, the only, Kevin McHale!!!”

[Cut to another standing ovation. Even Danny is standing.]

McHale: “Danny made two good trades in eight years — both were with me, his former teammate and best friend. In 2006, he convinced me to trade him Wally Szczerbiak and a future no. 1 pick for Ricky Davis, Marcus Banks’ awful contract, Mark Blount’s awful contract and two second-round picks. Danny should have been thrown in jail for that robbery! [Laughs.] Thirty months later, Danny convinced me to trade him KG for Al Jefferson, Gerald Green, Sebastian Telfair, Ryan Gomes, Theo Ratliff’s Expiring Contract, Boston’s 2009 pick and that same future no. 1 pick that I never should have given up in the Davis trade. That ended up being the sixth pick in the 2009 draft — I got fired and David Kahn took Jonny Flynn over Stephen Curry with it. Can’t blame me for that one! [Crowd laughs.] Even if that trade was better than it seems now, the fact remains … thank God for me, right, Danny?”

[Cut to Danny nodding vigorously.]

McHale: “In 2007, the Lakers offered me Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom for KG. I turned them down and took Danny’s offer instead. Why? Because I hate the Lakers. That was the reason! Danny, if it weren’t for me bleeding Celtic green until the bitter end, KG wins the 2008 title for the Lakers, and you probably give up that same Jefferson trade package to Memphis for Pau Gasol. Would you have won a title with Gasol, Perk, Pierce, Ray and Rondo? It’s a great question. All I know is, once again, thank God for me!”

[Cut to another standing ovation as McHale exits the stage.]

Heinsohn: “Look, everybody, I don’t care if we’re 15-17 with an aging roster and a brutal schedule still looming in April — I’ve never felt this good about a Celtics team, and now, it’s time to bring up the man who put it together, the man of the hour. Don’t be surprised if Fred Pitt makes Moneyball 2 about him someday. Ladies and gentlemen, Danny Ainge!”

[Cut to polite applause and some scattered boos.]

Ainge: “Thanks, Tommy. For the record, I just wanted to point out that getting Ray and Big Baby for Delonte and the no. 5 pick was a good trade. I haven’t heard that mentioned tonight. Same for trading for Rondo’s rights in 2006, or turning Baby into Brandon Bass this winter. I’m also proud that we extended Rondo for $55 million, below his market value, and that we locked up Doc Rivers for five years, right?”

[Danny looks out to the crowd for approval; he's greeted by silence.]

Ainge: “As for my draft record, I just want to say that I’m pleased with the potential that E’Twaun, Avery and JaJuan have shown. [More silence.] Look, I couldn’t be THAT bad. We won the NBA title in 2008. We came within a break or two of winning Game 7 in Los Angeles in 2010. We’re going to be $24 million under the cap this summer, with two first-round picks to boot. Ladies and gentlemen, I need you to believe in me. Do you believe in me?”

[Cut to the crowd … crickets.]

Filed Under: Art, General topics

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Bill Simmons is the editor-in-chief of Grantland and the author of the New York Times no. 1 best seller The Book of Basketball. For every Simmons column and podcast, log on to Grantland.

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