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News » Ainge firmly focused on the Celtics' present 2008-06-04

Ainge firmly focused on the Celtics' present 2008-06-04

Ainge firmly focused on the Celtics' present 2008-06-04
Danny Ainge has no desire to reminisce.

The former Celtics guard, the same one who was a key cog in Boston's glory years in the 1980s when the Celtics battled the Los Angeles Lakers for league supremacy, would much rather turn the page on the past and focus on the present.

"I don't like talking about it," Ainge said. "I've been in the NBA Finals six times and losing when you get to this point is no fun. It's painful."

2008 NBA Finals

Thursday's Game 1

  • 'Big 3' power Celtics past Lakers

Game 1 analysis

  • Goodman: Pierce provides good drama
  • Rosen: Rondo, reserves boost Celts
  • Kahn: Lakers exposed as softies
  • Hench: Mamba met his match

2008 Finals previews

  • Kahn: Celts are good; Kobe's better
  • Hench: Boston fans are back for more
  • Rosen: Breaking down the matchups
  • Kriegel: Kobe needs to be like Mike
  • '08 Finals simulation

Lakers-Celtics history

  • Hill: Rivalry's 10 greatest moments
  • Behrendt: Bird, Magic reminisce
  • Hill: Ranking the Celtics-Lakers Finals
  • Boeck: West revisits the rivalry
  • Kahn: Gamesmanship marks rivalry
  • All-time teams series


  • Best shots from Game 1
  • Celtics-Lakers through the years


  • NBA Finals Video Central
  • Marques Johnson Game 1 analysis
  • Marques Johnson Game 2 preview


  • NBA Finals central: Lakers-Celtics
  • Finals talk: Discuss Lakers-Celtics
  • Complete NBA playoff coverage

Everyone wants to talk about the good old days when Ainge teamed with the Original Big Three — Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish — to form one of the most scintillating rivalries in NBA history.

Magic vs. Larry.

Kareem vs. Parish.

Worthy vs. McHale.

Now Ainge has gone from a revered guard on the team that hung the last banner, No. 16, in the Garden way back in 1986 to the architect of the new-look Celtics.

But the fans nearly gave up on him.

When Ainge took over the club, he dismantled a team that had advanced to the Eastern Conference finals. He jettisoned Antoine Walker and just about everyone else and was forced to build the team around Paul Pierce, who was anything but a proven leader.

Ainge became known as Danny Panic to some, but he never got rattled.

The critics were vocal at times, but Ainge was still considered a Golden Boy around these parts because of his role in the 1984 and 1986 NBA titles. And it would have been much worse for Ainge if New England fans hadn't been able to embrace the success of the New England Patriots and Boston Red Sox during those lean years in the Garden.

Pierce was ready to give up a year ago and throw in the towel after a dismal season that became even worse after the Celtics missed on a chance to land Greg Oden or Kevin Durant in the NBA Draft. But that was before Ainge made a pair of moves that made the C's relevant again. He pulled off a draft-deal deal to acquire Ray Allen and then pulled off a trade that rivaled the one that brought Parish and the rights to McHale to Boston for Joe Barry Carroll when he dealt promising big man Al Jefferson and a few other inconsequential pieces for Garnett.

"You don't know how it's all going to work when the pieces mesh," Ainge said. "How they'll fit together."

The Celtics wasted little time establishing themselves as the Beasts of the East, winning 66 regular-season games and knocking off the experienced Detroit Pistons to win the Eastern Conference title.

Now Ainge will watch from courtside as his version of the Big Three will try and knock off Kobe Bryant and Lakers when the NBA Finals get underway on Thursday night in the new Boston Garden.

"I felt this has always been the goal," Ainge said. "It was never a goal to get to a certain point. There are all sorts of moral victories, but I don't think this is a team that settles for moral victories."

Ainge said he'll re-hash old memories of the Celtics-Lakers matchups from yesteryear when he talks or runs into Bird and McHale — as he did last week in Orlando for the NBA's Pre-Draft Camp. However, that's certainly not his focus.

"I'm only thinking about the 2008 Boston Celtics," Ainge said. "And I'm looking forward to the 2009 Celtics and preparing for the draft."

"I know it's a lot of fun for the fans to talk about the history, but from our standpoint we feel as though the current group is a great team to follow," he added.

Now Pierce, Garnett and Allen will all finally get a crack at a NBA title after all the time they spent fledgling in mediocrity.

They'll have a chance to bring No. 17 to Boston after a wait of more than two decades. It's only fitting it'll come against the Lakers.

"The one moment that stands out to me was us beating the Lakers in '84," Ainge said. "I felt the Lakers were the better team. We were very fortunate to win that series."

That was 24 years ago.

"It was obviously something I'll never forget," Ainge said.

But Ainge is hoping he won't have to flash back quite so far for championship memories.

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: June 4, 2008


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