OBF: Wyc Grousbeck leaves other Boston owners Green with envy

The Boston Celtics swept the Indiana Pacers to reach the NBA Finals for the 23rd time Monday. Boston won the Bob Cousy Trophy. Jaylen Brown beat Jayson Tatum by one vote for the Larry Bird Trophy.

All on the same day that Bill Walton passed away.

Up next: Vanquishing Kyrie Irving.



But nothing just happens. These Celtics are in large part the end product of 20-plus years of stable ownership that has never stopped making winning its lone priority.

That cannot be said about the hockey team across the hall at TD Garden. It cannot be said for the American League franchise located on Jersey Street. And it cannot be said of the NFL team whose home is on Route 1 in Foxboro.

“All I can think about right now is we lost a great Celtic today,” an emotional Wyc Grousbeck said during the post-game ceremony Monday night. “Bill Walton, one of the greatest Celtics of all time, this is dedicated to Bill.”

Success or failure starts at the top of any organization. Always. Everywhere. Forever.

Class doesn’t hurt. Neither does being able to communicate to the fan base on a regular basis. Answering real questions in real time. Or actually attending games in which your team participates.

The Celtics ownership group led by Grousbeck and Steve Pagliuca has now reached the NBA Finals four times in the past 16 years.

Yes, they are 1-2 in those Finals.

Our standards for the Celtics never change: Champs or Chumps.

But unlike their major-league peers in the Bay State, these Celtics spend every available dime on players, and then some.

Grousbeck got his money the old-fashioned way – from his dad. But he has been willing and eager to pour it into his basketball team.

John Henry let Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts leave town for next to nothing. He hasn’t spoken to fans or media in public since the Great Peasant Uprising at MGM Springfield some 17 months ago.

Robert Kraft is forever haunted by choosing Bill Belichick above paying Tom Brady. He begged Belichick’s forgiveness at the Brady roast after “The Dynasty” further enraged the Patriots fan base.

The Jacobs family waited until the early 21st century to pay market value for its best players. The goal remains unchanged: the money from six or seven home Bruins playoff games each spring.

This Celtics ownership group has gotten mostly right or gone down in flames trying.

(See Irving and Gordon Hayward.)

Just two years ago, there was real talk about dealing Brown.

Grousbeck & Co. allowed and encouraged Brad Stevens to build and then rebuild this team in the past three years. Stevens is the best GM in town since Theo Epstein.

“We feel like we’re a different team than we were last year and the year before that,” Brown said Monday. “I know everybody wants to continue to kind of pigeonhole us to what was happening in the past, but we’ve had a different team every single year, different coaches, we’ve had like three coaches in the last five years.”

All of that is the result of ownership knowing when to hold them, and when to fold them.

Fire Ime Udoka? It had to be done. Sorry, kids.

Dumping Marcus Smart and bringing in Jrue Holiday? Best move since Danny Ainge dealt the No. 1 pick and took Tatum at No. 3.

Pay Brown? Easy when it’s not your money.

Wyc tore his team a new one in the locker room after it went down 3-0 to Miami last year.

Can John Henry find the Red Sox clubhouse without a map?

Ownership gave Stevens the green light to blow it up this past offseason.

None of that is enough since the Celtics haven’t won Banner 18 – yet.

But Boston is 12-2 this postseason. The Celtics reached the NBA Finals in just 14 games.

The 2008 Celtics needed 20 games just to play Kobe in the Finals. In 2010, it took Boston 17 games to get through the Eastern Conference. And in 2022, Boston needed 18.

The Celtics devoured the heart of the Pacers inside a sold-out Somethingorother Fieldhouse twice in 48 hours. The Pacers held a 90% or greater probability of winning the fourth quarter of both Games 3 and 4 over the holiday weekend.

Yet they are headed for Cancun, nowhere near Can-UHN.

The Celtics were three shots away from potentially trailing the Pacers 3-1 in the Eastern
Conference Finals.

But the Celtics made those shots. Brown’s game-tying 3-pointer from the corner in  Game 1. Al Horford’s three off the backdoor dish from Tatum in Game 3. And Derrick White’s game-winning bomb from the corner to deliver the final points in Boston’s 105-102 triumph Monday night.

Smart would have missed all three.

For eight months, the rap on this team was simple: “They can’t perform in the clutch.”

That narrative should have died over the weekend. But it won’t.

We are being asked to believe the Celtics are somehow “soft” because they did not beat LeBron James, Michael Jordan. and Bill Russell this postseason.

“They haven’t been tested!”

But the Celtics rallied for two instant classic comebacks this past weekend.

“They’ve struggled.”

Up next:

“Boston peaked too soon!” The 10-day break gives Kristaps Porzingis extra time to recover. He is a necessary ingredient for a championship.

We will have time to wrestle with Kyrie and the vituperative race card that will accompany him to Boston. Brace for weeks of “Boston is racist” from the usual suspects.

Major-league teams from Boston and Dallas have never played for a championship in any sport.

That’s for another day.

Today, the Celtics are simply ‘Wyced Good.’

From the top on down.

Bill Speros (@RealOBF and @BillSperos) can be reached at bsperos1@gmail.com

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