Guarantees have been in the news lately with first Jason Terry and now Rajon Rondo guaranteeing a championship for the Celtics this season. I know some fans don't like the players making guarantees for one reason or another. Some feel it shows too much arrogance and may put a target on the team. Others feel that a guarantee could be a jinx. And, I'm sure that there are other reasons for people to be uncomfortable with players making guarantees.
One of the most famous guarantees in the NBA came from Pat Riley when he was the coach of the LA Lakers. Riley's Lakers had just won the title in 1987. The Celtics were just a season removed from winning the championship with the Big Three. There were also other teams, like the Pistons who were on the rise and who could challenge for the title. No team had repeated as champions in 18 years so a repeat for the Lakers was fairly improbable. Yet, at the celebration following the Lakers' 1987 title, Coach Pat Riley had guaranteed a repeat championship in 1988. Talk about going out on a limb.
He put a lot of pressure on his players with that statement. But Pat knew that he had the talent on the team and also knew that perhaps they might get complacent as champs and needed that little extra motivation to keep them sharp. Lakers guard, Byron Scott had this to say about the guarantee:
"Guaranteeing a championship was the best thing Pat ever did. It set the stage in our minds. Work harder, be better. That's the only way we could repeat."
Of course, all guarantees aren't quite as successful as Pat Riley's was. The Cleveland Cavaliers' owner, Dan Gilbert, was very upset after LeBron James took his talents to South Beach and made this guarantee in a letter he wrote criticizing James:
"I PERSONALLY GUARANTEE THAT THE CLEVELAND CAVALIERS WILL WIN AN NBA CHAMPIONSHIP BEFORE THE SELF-TITLED FORMER 'KING' WINS ONE."
Of course, we all know how that one ended up. The Cavs are still bottom feeders while LeBron James and the Heat went on to win the championship last year. There was a big difference between these guarantees. When Pat Riley made his guarantee, he was very aware of the talent and mentality on his team and when he made the guarantee, it was from a position of knowledge. When Dan Gilbert made his guarantee, it was off the cuff with no basis in reality. The Cavs weren't even close to talented enough to win a title and so his guarantee was just a bunch of hollow words.
Last season, the Celtics defeated the New Jersey Nets 107-94 March 2. This victory gave the Celtics a three game win streak and an 18-17 record. Mickael Pietrus was interviewed in the locker room after the game and spoke about the Celtics building chemistry and then he looked into the cameras and said that the Celtics were definitely going to win the championship. He didn't use the words guarantee, like Pat Riley and Dan Gilbert did, but just said that they were going to win it. This is also different from both of the above examples. Let's call this the excited utterance guarantee. Sometimes a player will get excited in the heat of the moment and, as Peaches did, say something like this. This can't really be considered a serious guarantee just like when you get really mad at someone and excitedly utter that you will kill them. It's just a statement in the heat of the moment and shouldn't be taken seriously.
Now, that brings me to Jason Terry's guarantee. Before the 2011 season, while he was still in Dallas, Jason looked at that Mavs team and knew that they had the talent to win a championship. He then got a tattoo of the Larry O'Brien trophy on his arm and proceeded to guarantee that the Mavs would win it all that season. Just like Riley's guarantee, Jet's involved going out on a limb. The Mavs had never won a championship before and there was no logical reason to believe that they would then, either. But Jason knew they had the talent and maybe they just needed additional motivation to take it to the next level. He said this about the attitude on the team after they saw the tattoo that guaranteed a championship.
"Everybody laughed and they thought it was a joke at the time. When they actually see me get it, they were like, 'This boy is serious.' And our whole talk and conversation was about right now, about us getting to this point and winning it all."
When he signed with the Celtics, he said that he knew that the Celtics had what it would take to win a championship since they were so close last season. He saw the talent on the team that he was joining and knew that they could win it all. He knew that the guarantee worked before and so he went a step further with his tattoo and now Lucky is there holding the Larry O'Brien Trophy. As with 2011 in Dallas, he didn't use the word guarantee, but he did say that the Celtics will win that trophy this season.
"There's the lucky leprechaun," he told WBZ-TV's Steve Burton during an interview Thursday at Canton's Reebok Headquarters that will air Sunday night on Sports Final, "and he's spinning the Larry O'Brien trophy, which we will win this year."
"If I looked at our team and what they accomplished last year, they're one game away. They're one game away from going back to the NBA Finals, and I think they win it. This year, put a little ‘Jet Fuel' into the mix, and I think we have the team."
He knows that the Celtics were one win away from the Finals last season, even though they were decimated by injuries. He also knows that with the additions they have made this year, they are a much deeper team and so his "guarantee" was made from a position of knowledge, just as Pat Riley's was in 1987. And, Jason just gave the Celtics that little extra motivation that may be what it would take to put them over the top.
Rajon Rondo, not to be outdone by Jason Terry, made a guarantee of his own. Rondo is in Hong Kong with his Red Bull Tour and said that he expects the Celtics to unseat Miami and win the NBA title this season. He also said that the Lakers haven't done anything yet and that it's all on paper.
"I think because we have a talented group of guys... the additions of Courtney Lee, [Jason] Terry and Jeff Green. We have high expectations every year... I think we got a lot better than last year."
Again, Rondo didn't use the word "guarantee" and it's more of a prediction than guarantee, but, as with Jason Terry's words and tattoo, they carry the idea that he is guaranteeing that the Celtics will win it because of his confidence in the team. Just like Pat Riley's guarantee and just like Jet's 2011 guarantee, he is making it based on knowledge of the team. And, if one player's guarantee can motivate a team to win it all, the guarantee of two players should all but guarantee it, wouldn't you say?
As always, Doc will take it one game at a time, and keep it real.While I am sure he agrees with the sentiment that we have what it takes to put another banner up, he also knows that he must keep the focus on the present task at hand. Let the players beat their breats and get each other pumped up, Doc is the steady hand at the helm.
Totally agree that Doc should be the captain of the crazy motivated group but this team is gonna have to fight hard, even if they made it out of the East the West ( OKC LAL) are strong. This is a big for Rondo because this team is really his not just at the point but with the big three gone he has to rise to the occasion