For those who don’t believe the NBA’s regular season matters, look no further than the 2012 Boston Celtics. A clashing mixture of grizzled warriors, self-aware journeymen, and still developing flowers on the cusp of a grand spring bloom, this unit grew into their individual roles, remodeling from a top heavy bag of creaky bones to a versatile, well-muscled monster in just under six months. Very few basketball teams are able to squeeze out every single drop of talent like these Celtics just did. From Kevin Garnett’s resurgence as one of the NBA’s most valuable, and dominant, two-way forces, to Rajon Rondo making his final emphatic steps from economy to first class, to Ray Allen and Paul Pierce limping with gritted teeth through the most physically exerting action their sport has to offer, to timely gut checks from the likes of Greg Stiemsma, Mickael Pietrus, Keyon Dooling, and Brandon Bass, all that was asked for was delivered; in a way, watching it take place was even more fulfilling than a championship—although one of those would have been warmly embraced. Today, that group and their season is permanently in the rearview mirror, and neither is ever coming back. As Danny Ainge looks ahead to the team’s most significant offseason in half a decade, several options lay at his feet, the most (un)popular being for him to “blow it up.” I never understand what people mean when they use this term for the Celtics. When the Charlotte Bobcats traded Stephen Jackson and Gerald Wallace, they blew it up. When the Portland Trailblazers fired their coach, hired a new general manager, and traded two veteran starters for a sack of unproven bench players and draft picks, they blew it up. When the Orlando Magic finally decide to deal Dwight Howard, they too will have blown it up. To me, blowing it up means purposefully sabotaging a team’s infrastructure by replacing key figures with the hope of building a brand new foundation through the draft and cleared cap room. Blowing it up is becoming bad on purpose so that one day you can be really good. When you just came within one cold eight minute stretch of breaking into the NBA Finals, a complete overhaul probably isn’t the answer, and because of two crucial mid-first round draft picks made in the past six years, I don’t believe Ainge could if he really wanted to. Read the rest of this entry »