If you had a time machine...

NoXInNixon

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What one event in basketball history would you change that would have the most significant long-term effect? This does not have to be Boston specific.
 

nighthob

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Take the coke away from Len and explain to him that he had a heart condition.
 

SemperFidelisSox

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We don’t know the extent of Bias drug use. We do know he was hanging out with the wrong crowd, mainly Brian Lee Tribble. Chances are those people and troubles would have followed him to Boston if he had survived that night. Bias could have turned into Michael Jordan, or followed the path of fellow ‘86 lottery pick Chris Washburn and crashed and burned amid suspensions and rehabs.
 

tims4wins

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See I like the 97 lottery better than Bias because it affects the entire Western conference for like 15 years as well as the Celts.
 

Scott Cooper's Grand Slam

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Celts win the 1997 lottery.
Take the coke away from Len and explain to him that he had a heart condition.
These have to be the answer. As bosockboy notes, though - if Bias's career pans out, the Celtics probably aren't in a position to be eligible for the 1997 lottery. And it'd be easy to think that putting The Big Fundamental in green just turns The Spurs Dynasty into the Celtics dynasty, but SoSH recently relived the Joe Forte or Tony Parker swing and a miss. It goes without saying that the Pitino era in Boston ends differently with Duncan anchoring the squad, but Pitino is no Popovich.

All things considered, Celtics fans have lived a charmed life. There have been tragedies and lean years, but the Celtics have been almost constantly relevant and enjoyable. There's a throughline to be drawn from Russell to Bird to Pierce to Garnett to IT4 to today.

I guess what I'm trying to say: wouldn't change a thing.
 

NYCSox

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For a non-Celtics version, in no particular order but definitely a pattern.

1) Kareem Abdul Jabbar trade - yes I know the Bucks hands were totally forced.

2) New Orleans signing Gail Goodrich and the convoluted compensation that led to the Jazz first round pick in 1979 (#1 overall) going to LA.

3) Cleveland trading Butch Lee and a pick to LA for a pick for Don Ford and a first round pick. Of course the Cleveland pick turned into the #1 overall pick in 1982. Thanks Ted Stepien.

4) Vlade Divac for a certain first round pick coming out of high school.
 

trekfan55

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Going a bit off topic here but what about these:

1. 1972 Olympics. A fair game that the US team wins 10 out of 10 times. The referees don't give doovers, the US guy does not move away from the Soviet trying to inbound the ball because why would he have to? And so on.

2. Michael Jordan doesn't "retire". For this one we may have to include saving his father's life. The Bulls maybe win 6-7 championships in a row, and there's no discussion for the GOAT.

3. Along the Michael Jordan, Portland drafts him at # 2, change the entire history of basketball. Houston had justification in picking Hakeem (and won 2 championship during Jordan's hiatus).

BTW this thread would be great for other sports or sports in general.
 

Kliq

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My favorite NBA what if has to be the rumor that before the 1984 draft, Houston was considering trading Ralph Sampson for the #2 overall pick and Clyde Drexler; and then taking Jordan after picking Hakeem; pairing Jordan/Hakeem/Drexler up from the very beginning of their careers.

Another fun one is when Kareem was going to become a professional, he was considering joining the ABA. According to legend, the ABA had the inside track since Kareem didn't want to play in Milwaukee, and in the ABA he could play in New York. Kareem's people then told the NBA and the ABA that they could have only one meeting with Kareem, and they should make their best offer. Desperate to land the biggest pro prospect since Wilt, the ABA owners pooled their money and gave ABA Commissioner George Mikan a check for $1 million to hand over to Kareem during the meeting, to show just how serious they were about landing him. As the story goes, they had the meeting and Mikan just forgot to show Kareem the check, so they low-ball Kareem with a shitty offer and he goes to the NBA. If someone goes back in time and tells Mikan to show him the check, and Kareem goes to the ABA, that probably changes a lot of NBA history over the next 20 years.
 

HomeRunBaker

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Bias is the obv #1 so I'll take a pass here and go with.......

Red Auerbach putting sentiments aside when he had the deals for the corpses of Bird and McHale on the table to reload on the fly. He'd then have had the Parish, DJ and Ainge deals to follow and set us up to contend throughout the 90's.

Fortunately for us, Ainge openly admits to wondering what the heck Red was doing while learning from this in making the monumental Brooklyn trade w Pierce and KG.
 

PedroKsBambino

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I think Bias is my answer.

I did ponder Kobe's workout wtih Celts and picking him instead of Antoine. Not only would that have huge implications for Celtics, it would have changed the Lakers materially as well
 

RGREELEY33

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Bias #1, 1997 Draft #2, and a very distant #3 is Kendrick Perkins not blowing out his knee in game 6 thus enabling the Lakers to dominate the Celtics on the glass and giving Kobe a championship over the Celtics which still stings me to this day.
 

Was (Not Wasdin)

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97 is the right answer for me. Set the team back quite a bit. It was galling to see LA reload/rebuild so quickly while the Celtics struggled.

Bias, but with a twist. Philly takes him number 1, and the Celtics get Brad Daugherty at 2 (Philly traded the #1 pick to Cleveland, who they knew would take Daugherty, to keep the Celtics from getting him). Celts roll with Bird, Parish, McHale, Daugherty and Max/Walton for the next couple of years. Plus, if Bias lives, you have a Philly team that has peak Barkley, near peak Moses, and a young stud in Bias. Those battles would have been epic, and it is some of the worst sports GM malpractice ever that Philly blew up that potential team.

Reggie Lewis-go back to the day he died and stop him from playing and get him to a Dr. to figure it all out. I dont think he could have turned the Celtics around on his own, but he was a good guy who died way too young.

2010 finals, Perk doesn't hurt his knee, Celts win game 7. Lakers f'ing killed them on the boards on Game 7.
 

NortheasternPJ

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Bias is the obv #1 so I'll take a pass here and go with.......

Red Auerbach putting sentiments aside when he had the deals for the corpses of Bird and McHale on the table to reload on the fly. He'd then have had the Parish, DJ and Ainge deals to follow and set us up to contend throughout the 90's.

Fortunately for us, Ainge openly admits to wondering what the heck Red was doing while learning from this in making the monumental Brooklyn trade w Pierce and KG.
I was looking up the Bird stuff and ran across this article where Ainge may be replaced with Bird and Bird was praised for trading Kawhi Leonard for George Hill

https://bleacherreport.com/articles/1681982-why-larry-bird-potentially-replacing-danny-ainge-is-ideal-for-boston-celtics

I'd put forward Larry Bird deciding to go dig his mothers driveway and hurting his back if that story is actually true.
 

BigSoxFan

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I think the 1997 Draft is completely overblown. For starters, we likely don’t get Pierce in 1998 draft, which would have hurt. I also don’t think that Duncan plays a second contract in Boston. He hated the cold and almost left SA in 2000 to go to Orlando. Robinson had to fly back from a vacation in Europe to convince him to stay. Pitino would have f’d things up. No doubt in my mind.
 

scottyno

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If we're changing 1997 draft to whatever we want then in addition to getting Duncan the Cs would also get Tracy Mcgrady who didn't go until 9. Probably lose Pierce then but you're getting 2 hall of famers to build around.
 

SemperFidelisSox

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Duncan, Antoine Walker, Dana Baros, Walter McCarthy, and Ron Mercer is not exactly a championship starting five. I’m assuming getting Duncan at #1 means no Billups at #3 in this ‘what if’ scenario.
 

Captaincoop

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Bias is my number 1. The ripple effect there is almost too big to wrap your head around.

The '87 team almost certainly wins a title . McHale and Bird don't get overused and injured, possibly extending their careers. No desperation Ainge trade for frontcourt help, etc.

C's still draft Reggie in '87 and move into the 90's after squashing the Pistons championship window and at the very least hold off Jordan for a few years if not fully dominating into the mid 90's behind Bias, Reggie, Parish, etc.

Painful to contemplate.

Edit: in the totally unfair draft second-guessing category...DeAndre Jordan was available when the C's took JR Giddens in 2008. How do the late Pierce-KG teams fare with an explosive young double-double machine in the middle?
 

Sam Ray Not

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I remember talking to a big ACC hoops fan (maybe Maryland fan?) on a plane in '86, soon after the death of Bias, and asking him if he was close as good as Jordan, sort of hoping he would say, "nah, not that good." He said emphatically: "BETTER than Jordan."
 

Poulsonator

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Obviously the major Celtics ones have been covered but a fun one is Nikos Galis:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nikos_Galis

Drafted by the Celtics in the 4th round in 1979 but never played for Boston due to an untimely ankle injury, Galis would go on to become one of the greatest international players of all-time with Red eventually saying not keeping Galis was the biggest mistake of his career.
 

Captaincoop

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Smaller scale--passing on Tim Hardaway for Michael Smith in the 1989 draft. We needed a home run that year and whiffed.
Man, that was also bad. And not just Hardaway, even without hitting a home run they could have at least gotten someone to help those late Bird teams.

Cliff Robinson and Dana Barros were from the Celtics' own backyard and could have helped...
 

InstaFace

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All things considered, Celtics fans have lived a charmed life. There have been tragedies and lean years, but the Celtics have been almost constantly relevant and enjoyable. There's a throughline to be drawn from Russell to Bird to Pierce to Garnett to IT4 to today.
Charmed life, no doubt, but it was some very lean years from Bird's prime to Pierce's prime. And pre-KG, the Pierce Celtics were watchable, but never really a contender aside from that charmed 2002 run. We had posters here making fun of Vin Baker's alcoholism - it just wasn't an era that made either players or fans look good.

Bias situation is good. More recently, I wish KG didn't get hurt the year after the title. I think they could've 3-peated.
That probably would have required Perkins not getting hurt during 2010 game 6.

But yeah, nobody ever beat that starting 5 in a series. Sniff.

I think the continual dominance of the Celtics up through the 80s probably hurt the league's overall growth, much the same way as the Yankees' hegemony up until the introduction of the draft in 1965 was not in the best interests of baseball as a whole. So I'd be more inclined to have Kobe at #6 in 1996. Would put us into the conversation if we still get Pierce 2 years later, but it wouldn't tilt us into superteam category, and more importantly it would deprive the Lakers of a resurgence.

But:

Scrounge like crazy for a couple hundred grand to buy a 10% share of the ABA Spirits of St. Louis, just before they signed the settlement with the NBA for the perpetual 1/17 share of league broadcast revenues.

http://articles.latimes.com/2006/jul/31/sports/sp-aba31
This is the answer if we're in this as individuals. I want to make sweet sweet love to that story every time it comes up in conversation.
 

Scott Cooper's Grand Slam

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Charmed life, no doubt, but it was some very lean years from Bird's prime to Pierce's prime. And pre-KG, the Pierce Celtics were watchable, but never really a contender aside from that charmed 2002 run. We had posters here making fun of Vin Baker's alcoholism - it just wasn't an era that made either players or fans look good.
That's fair. I was excited for Gary Payton in green.
 

the moops

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I think the 1997 Draft is completely overblown. For starters, we likely don’t get Pierce in 1998 draft, which would have hurt.
Tim Duncan would have made us all quickly forget the missed opportunity of Paul Pierce. Give me the top 10'ish player of all time over a completely awesome story in Pierce any day
 

BigSoxFan

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Tim Duncan would have made us all quickly forget the missed opportunity of Paul Pierce. Give me the top 10'ish player of all time over a completely awesome story in Pierce any day
You would have had a top 10 player for just a few years. Give me Pierce for his career over 4 years of Duncan.
 

nighthob

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Tim Duncan would have made us all quickly forget the missed opportunity of Paul Pierce. Give me the top 10'ish player of all time over a completely awesome story in Pierce any day
Duncan despised Pitino, and that draft occurred before rookie scale pay. He would have been gone in two years and Boston would have ended up with nothing.
 

Sox Puppet

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Hard to argue with the Celts trading the #1 pick in 1980 for Robert Parish and #3 pick (Kevin McHale). In essence, we got two future Hall of Famers in one trade, while losing only the guy affectionately nicknamed Joe Barely Cares.

Basketball history would be a lot different had we not made that trade!
 

BigSoxFan

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The Webber/Penny trade. While Shaq and Penny were fun, I always wondered how the Shaq/Webber frontcourt would have done.
 

HowBoutDemSox

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OKC not making the Harden trade, either by just paying the tax or cutting bait and using the amnesty clause on Perkins. Would be fascinating to see their big three trying to play together as Harden really entered his prime. Do they each give up enough touches to keep the others happy? Can they win a title? Do they become a dynasty? Is Golden State still the dominant team in the conference, regardless? Does Durant still bolt to Golden State? What does Morey do to remain competitive without Harden in the fold? Changes the complexion of the West for the past half decade and into the future.
 

Eddie Jurak

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Older: Portland drafts Jordan
Portland has an absurdly long sad history when it comes to drafting big men:
  • 1972: draft Larue Martin #1 overall, and he is so bad he can barely get on the court
  • 1974: draft Bill Walton, one of the best ever to play center, but injuries ruin his career
  • 1976: draft Moses Malone in the ABA dispersal draft, trade him for a first round pick that became Larry Bird drinking buddy Rick Robey
  • 1978: draft Mychal Thompson #1 overall the year the Celtics draft Bird; following his rookie season, Thompson breaks his leg and misses year 2
  • 1984: draft Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan
  • 2007: draft Greg Oden over Kevin Durant
 

Devizier

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How about the Kevin McHale special?

After drafting Kevin Garnett it was all downhill

1996 swapping Ray Allen for Marbury
1999 Wally world over Rip Hamilton, Dre Miller, Marion, and Terry (with Mercer hanging around for good measure)
1999 illegal Joe Smith signing costing them a billion draft picks

I feel like if you reversed any one of those decisions (particularly the last one) the Wolves build a credible, lasting team around Garnett and he remains a Wolves lifer.