I have in my hands a new book, from Peter May: "Top of the World: The Inside Story of the Boston Celtics' Amazing One-Year Turnaround to Become NBA Champions."
As you can expect from a book by a beat writer that plainly must have been rushed into production, much of this book chronicles without shedding all that much light. ("The Celtics won handily in Milwaukee," he writes, "and then arrived in San Antonio.")
But there exceptions. For instance, did you know what back when Doc Rivers was a broadcaster in San Antonio, his family's house was burned to the ground by arson? No humans were home, but their pets perished in the blaze. The book suggest it was racially motivated. It is a nifty measure of the Rivers family spine that they reacted by building and living in another house not far away.
This book also, for instance, touches on the tale of Leon Powe -- a tremendous young player with a miserable back story. One day, I suspect, there will be entire books just about him.
As the 2008-2009 season starts, however, one of the most relevant quotes in this book comes straight off the back cover, beneath a photo of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, and the NBA's most coveted trophy, all soaked in champagne.
Doc Rivers summoned the trio [Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen] to his office. "I don't care how good you are or how good you think you are," Rivers told them. "You guys might think I'm tripping a little here, but you only have one shot. I don't want to hear about next year, because that's a total fallacy. You'll be hurt. You'll be tired. You'll be too old. You don't know about next year. You've got this year to get it done and there is no other year. That's the sense of urgency you have to have."
All three were on board at that very moment.
You might be thinking: Wow, is Coach Rivers' feeling foolish now that he has told them he expects them to be injured and old this year? My feeling: Not at all. It worked. They won the title. He's more of a genius than ever.
And he has had all summer to think of a new rallying cry this time around.