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Wyc Grousbeck: "We are focused more on Celtic Pride than on dollars"
Do you have a second NBA team, other than the Celtics, that you still follow particularly closely, say from having followed it as a kid or college student? Douglas D. Le Brun
Wyc Grousbeck: I grew up in Boston and always cheered for the Celtics as well as every other Boston team. That's why it feels extra great to buy the team with my partners and then win the championship. We are the first Boston-based owners of the team since 1963. The championship parade through Boston was just unforgettable. Nowadays I have to follow all 29 other teams to see what they are doing and to try to stay competitive with them. I focus on the Atlantic Division of course - they are our natural rivals and we have to step over them to move ahead.
Wyc, as an NBA owner, how much interest do you see from the current NBA owners for overseas NBA teams and how much research have the Celtics done regarding foreign revenue potential whether playing games (preseason or regular season) or obtaining foreign players? Jacob Noble
WG: As a league we are very interested in China, Europe and the rest of the world. Basketball is one of the two major worldwide sports and we as the owners of its leading teams are focused on developing the sport worldwide. Our commissioner and staff have been working of that for decades. In terms of players, we scout aggressively in Europe and China and are always very mindful of the talented players overseas. In terms of playing games overseas, last year we started off in the Vatican and ended up in the White House (thanks to Celtics VP Jeff Twiss for that line).
What do you think of the bailout considering that you are in the financial industry's business? And how do you think the economy is going to hurt the league? Craig Beckerman
WG: The bailout got heavy support from the people who "should" know what to do – the Treasury Department, the Fed and many Wall Street figures. I hope they are correct. The economic troubles are not good for anybody – we need to focus on giving a great value for our ticket price – whether it is our $10 seats or our high-priced courtsides. When our team plays the way it is capable of playing, our fans go home feeling they were well entertained and really saw something worthwhile and special.
I was wondering if you would consider taking additional salary cap hits in order to keep this team competitive in the upcoming years. The Big Three will need more help as they get older to keep them fresh and healthy for the playoffs through the grinding season. And we will need more talent surrounding them so we don't lose much momentum and potential home court advantage that proved to be so critical for us. Getting more talented role players and making sure we keep the role players who we have that are productive in place is a must, but also has a cost. Yoav Raban
WG: We have always said we would do what we could to put a great team on the floor. We have not always paid tax because often it makes more sense to stay steady and develop the young talent you have on your roster, instead of bringing in vets and depriving the young players of their minutes. This year, we decided that paying a tax gave us a chance to be special, and everything worked out. We will take the coming years as they come – we are focused more on Celtic Pride than on dollars and cents but everything goes into the mix.
Is there a desire among NBA ownership to modify the luxury tax so there is not a dollar to dollar penalty? It seems unfair to the fans when a team with terrific young talent cannot keep them all unless they fall into the lux tax situation. Let's say in three years, Baby, Giddens and Walker all turn out to be huge stars. Why should the Celtics have to choose to keep just one or two to stay under the tax. If it is homegrown talent, why can't they keep everyone, and pay a modified tax? That was the Bulls' situation with Gordon and Deng, and it feels wrong. What do you think? Rod Steier
WG: I can't speak about matters that are covered by the CBA. I can say that the tax is one part of a partnership with the NBA players where we share revenues together and have everybody in the position where we all do better when the league as a whole does better.
What effect will the loss of James Posey have on the Celts' defensive core, and what can be done to soften the blow of his departure? Graham North
WG: We know that James was an important part of our championship team and he deserves the ring that we will be giving him, just as he deserved his ring from the Heat. I just watched a preseason practice with Danny Ainge and we were commenting on the defensive intensity we saw out on the floor. We have several players who will be trying to step up – we will see. Our staff thinks we are covered but we play the games for a reason... to find out.
How big a role do you envision the bench playing this year? I would really like to see the starters as healthy and well-rested as possible going in for a title defense. How much impact do you expect from Darius Miles, Gabe Pruitt and Bill Walker? Ron Landau
WG: If you look at the minutes last year although there was a perception of high minutes for the Big Three, as I recall they actually played less last year than they had previously, and they shared the scoring load so they could focus energy on defense. That's really good coaching as well as good unselfish playing. I want to add that in crunch time, Game 4 against L.A. (the comeback game), Ray played all 48 minutes. So he's an example of a guy who still had it in June when it was time to go for the big prize. The starters and the bench came to camp this year in great shape – everyone is fired up to try to defend the title. A little rest here and there will probably help. I don't want to comment on any particular young player really – but I would like to compliment Danny for consistently finding excellent players in the mid to late first round and obviously in the second round as well. That was a key to our success.
At the end, signing vets (Cassell, PJ) was a big factor in the Finals vs. the Lakers. Would a player like Stephon Marbury, if waived, be a good fit for the Celtics? And by the way, what are your plans for French Lick this season?
WG: Sorry, I can't comment on any players from other teams. Our band French Lick is a part time hobby but it is a good stress reliever. And getting to be part of a rock bill with people like Peter Wolf, Gregg Allman and Marshall Tucker is a real kick.
The Kevin Garnett acquisition was clearly the biggest reason for Boston's turn around last year, but as for winning the championship the second most important move had to be the hiring of Tom Thibodeau. Can you first explain how you came to hire an assistant coach who, as far as I know, did not have an existing relationship with either a returning coaching regime (I can't remember if Thibodeau coached when Doc was with the Knicks) or the returning GM. Second, how in the world has this man not become a head coach? Paul Byrne
WG: Doc Rivers gets the credit for assembling his world champion staff – and they were fantastic. Tom had been a big part of Houston's top ranked defense – then he came to us, worked well with Doc, and we got the top ranking. Danny and Doc work closely on all aspects of the basketball operation and the results speak for themselves. Tom is a winner and I am sure he has the qualifications to be a winning head coach, as I have told him personally. Selfishly I am glad he is with us now but I admit he will probably get a call at some point.
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