Cover Image: The Big Three

The Big Three

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When you talk about the NBA, you have to mention the Boston Celtics. When you mention the Celtics, you have to talk about the Big Three…Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen.

It's hard to believe that the team are currently in the 2022 NBA Finals, was once a struggling team with dreary record. In this book, I learned that Danny Ainge has played an instrumental part in rebuilding this team. When the star, Paul Pierce threatened to leave, Ainge called him into the office and asked him what he needed in order to stay. Trades were made and losses became wins. There was hope for the team yet!

All families (in this case, team) has their issues and the Celtics surely had theirs. There was beef amongst players (Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo), players and coaches (Rajon Rondo and Doc Rivers), and the players with the franchise (Kendrick Perkins' trade). I learned so much from this book.

This book was full of analytics and statistics, and you definitely have to be a lover of the game to read this book. As I was reading, I was reminded of certain games and where I was at the time. I recommend this 💎💎💎💎book.

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Any lover of basketball should read this. Any lover of the Boston Celtics should run to pick this book up. This book delves into the lives and careers of three of the Celtics best players. It was so well crafted and fun to read.

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It can often be difficult to find an intriguing basketball title that isn’t filled with dense stats or written with only the casual fan in mind. This book has managed to appeal to the casual and diehard fans alike! I couldn’t stop reading this, and I loved the insights from those who were inside the organization during the Celtics late 2000’s renaissance

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One of the first times that the phrase "Big Three" came up in sports was in the late 1970s. It was used to describe the top defensemen of the Montreal Canadiens. Larry Robinson, Serge Savard and Guy Lapointe were three great blueliners, and they could play indefinitely. The trio was a huge part of four straight championships in that era.

Fast forward a while, and "The Big Three" came up again - this time in basketball. The Boston Celtics collected three Hall of Famers on the same roster, and it helped them win a championship in 2008 and come close two years later.

How did they collect that talent, and what was that era like? Those are the basic questions involved in the book, "The Big Three." Author Michael Holley does a good job of answering them, too.

The Celtics are one of the most historic franchises in the NBA, mostly because of their success in the past. Boston had an amazing run of 11 championships in 13 years in the 1950s and 1960s, and they added to that total in the 1970s and 1980s. But hard times, and perhaps the law of averages (it's easier to win in a 10-team league than a 30-team league) eventually caught up with Boston after that.

The Celtics handed the keys to the car to Danny Ainge, part of the good times of the 1980s. His goal was to collect pieces that would help the team improve down the road. Mostly that was in the form of draft choices and useful contracts. Sometimes the guys with the MBAs are as important as the players in the NBA. Still, the team won only 24 games in 2006-07, and star player Paul Pierce was getting sick of losing.

At that point, Ainge was ready to strike. Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen were around 30, and had never won anything. They were anxious to change that last part. Ainge swung two trades to acquire them, and Boston was in business. The Celtics added The Big Three to Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins for their starting lineup, and the team went on to win 66 games and a championship.

As you might guess, that started some copycat transactions in the rest of the NBA. The Miami Heat added LeBron James and Chris Bosh to Dwayne Wade to form their own Big Three. James had a similar experience when he returned to Cleveland, playing with Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving. You can fit three stars under the salary cap with some creative accounting, filling out the roster with bargain players and youngsters.

It's not easy to do that on court, though. The stars are used to taking the big shots and playing the big minutes. Someone - in the Celtics' case, Allen - has to get used to the idea that he won't be a top option at crunch time. Holley does really good work in showing how everyone on the Celtics' roster bought into the idea, because they wanted a championship on their resume. The good feelings lasted through 2010. An injury to Garnett essentially ruined the chance at a repeat in 2009, and the team fell just short in losing to the NBA Finals to the Lakers in 2010. The group hung on for a couple of years. Then Allen left as a free agent for Miami in 2012, and Garnett and Pierce were traded to the Nets in 2014. Boston has been OK since then, but has not returned to the finals.

It's an interesting story of how to build a winner in the modern NBA, and Holley talked to everyone to find out how everything came together. The book has a ton of little details about how the team operated. There are stories from owners, executives, coaches and players along the way, and the pages go by quite quickly - a good sign.

About the only drawback to the book is that it took some time to be written. We're coming up on 14 years since the Celtics' last championship. Most of the players - including the Big Three, of course - are retired, and the executives have moved on to other things. The building of a winner also is a more interesting process than how that championship team slowly unraveled after the celebration. In other words, the book peaks when the team does.

Even so, Holley's book serves as a supplier of good memories about a championship team as well as a course on NBA management. In other words, even non-Celtics fans ought to find this worth their time.

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3 of the best basketball players of this era - Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett

This book goes through the tasks of obtaining all 3 of the players and trying to keep them

Delves into some of the attitudes of the players

All the games, the championship run and potential trades

I really liked it as you don't get much of this knowledge just being the average fan

Even if you're not a Celtics fan, you have to love the players, they're very charismatic on and off the court.

I received this copy in exchange for a review from NetGalley

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The original big three of the modern basketball era had a drastically different story than the others. Unlike the Miami Heatles or Golden State super team, the Boston Celtics had to work on this trio from the office instead of just players deciding to team up. The Celtics' entire journey is portrayed with a look at the locker room from an all-time dominant first season to the egos fracturing chemistry to the end. Michael Holly is the perfect voice to share the noteworthy Boston sports topic

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Basketball fans are aware that the Boston Celtics have won 17 championships, a record they held themselves until the 2020 Los Angeles Lakers tied that mark. This book by Michael Holley, who has been called "the premier chronicler of Boston sports", tells the reader the complete story behind the 17th title, which was won in 2008. It is a fascinating look at the complete picture of the era of the "Big Three" in Boston, from the first day that former Celtics player Danny Ainge considered a front office job with his former team to the last chance for the team as it was constructed in 2013 to get back to the Finals.

That last chapter of the team's saga, with Ray Allen having already departed the Celtics in favor of the then-rival Miami Heat, was especially painful considering the stories from the previous chapters. For the most part, the "Big Three" players mentioned in the subtitle – Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen – all had similar NBA careers before they were teammates. Pierce had spent his entire career in Boston and was getting antsy to be able to add a banner to the rafters of the TD Garden. Garnett, having already won one MVP award in Minnesota, was growing frustrated with the inability of the Timberwolves to build off their one year of playoff success in 2004. Allen was starring in Seattle but wasn't happy with all the side talk about the team moving to Oklahoma City.

Here is where Ainge, along with coach Doc Rivers, puts together two brilliant trade packages to land Allen and Garnett to play alongside Pierce, making up the Celtics' "Big Three". It is to the author's credit that he does not try to make this seem like a historic collection of stars – indeed, he frequently mentions an earlier "big three" combination for the Celtics of Larry Bird, Robert Parish and Kevin McHale, who were all teammates of Ainge. The latter of those three remained friends with Ainge and that connection was the key in obtaining Garnett as McHale was the GM of the Timberwolves at the time.

The story of the Garnett trade, with not only that trade itself but what Ainge did to ensure that he collected all the parts Minnesota wanted to make the trade, was Holley's writing at its finest. While he certainly writes about the on-court action well, especially during the 2008 NBA finals when the Big Three won their only championship together, it is his writing about the front office workings and the conversations between the players or players and Rivers off the court that makes the book stand out. Any reader will learn a lot about the Celtics and their use of analytics before it became as big as it is now, one very important part of why Ainge was successful at putting together team that for five years was among the very best in the NBA, making it to at least the conference finals three of those five years.

There is also good material on important items in the league that didn't directly involve the Celtics but had an impact on them, such as LeBron James moving from Cleveland to Miami and the NBA lockout of 2011. Holley makes sure to tie these back to the Celtics and what these meant to the team. This was important to help paint the complete picture of the Boston Celtics from 2007 to 2012. If this is a topic about which a reader wishes to learn more, this is an excellent source.

I wish to thank Hachette Books for providing a copy of the book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

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The Big Three chronicles the rebuild of the Boston Celtics with the formation of the Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett super team. The team, under the coaching of Doc Rivers, would go on to win the 2007 NBA championship, the first championship for the Celtics in over twenty years. The Big Three provides an account of the trades to create the "Big Three," the lead up to the championship, the subsequent unsuccessful championship runs, and the eventual dismantling of the team.

I really like reading the timeline presented in The Big Three because it spans a chunk of time that ends right before I started watching NBA basketball regularly. The Big Three provides a great overview of this iconic time in the NBA, and it covers a lot of ground. The book spends a good amount of time detailing the acquisition of Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett to the Celtics and the lead up to the dominant championship run, and I definitely learned a lot. I also liked that the book did not sugarcoat the conflicts, injuries, and continuous trade rumors that contributed to the inability to replicate another championship win. There is a lot of great information in The Big Three; Celtics fans and basketball fans in general will enjoy this book.

Thanks to Netgalley and Hachette Books for this ARC; this is my honest and voluntary review.

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