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Sports

June 27, 2008

Ainge caps title season with another winner

Bill Burt

BOSTON — It was 12:20 this morning and Boston Celtics general manager Danny Ainge had collapsed in a leather chair as if he had completed a marathon.

Figuratively, he just had. And from this vantage point, he won.

Ten days ago his team won its first championship in 22 years, which was a story out of Red Auerbach's legacy. In five seasons, Ainge retooled the entire roster, keeping only Paul Pierce, and he won a championship.

But last night, draft night, was the real end.

While nothing beats winning a ring, time will tell if Ainge pulled off another coup last night.

"Why is everyone so excited?" joked Ainge to the assembled media.

We weren't excited because, well, we were tired, just like Ainge was.

While New England was awash in Celtics basketball the last two months, Ainge had another thing to deal with — the future.

"We were in Los Angeles (for the NBA finals), in the locker room, and Danny was talking about all of these college players," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "I had to get up and leave. I couldn't deal with the college talk. I had to figure out a way to stop Kobe."

Bill Belichick would have been proud of the Celtics leading up to this draft.

Ainge led us to believe that the Celtics were going to be cheapskates, per ownership's orders, and select a guy or two who would play in Europe on somebody else's dime. And that any money saved would go to current key Celtics up for free agency (see James Posey).

Instead Ainge pulled off another Belichick-like move, drafting from strength.

With a team loaded with talented, eye-on-the-prize veterans, it was worth taking a risk or two.

The first was with their first-round pick, 30th overall, selecting former University of New Mexico star J.R. Giddens, a 6-foot-5 guard. While Giddens' numbers were impressive (16.3 points and 8.8 rebounds), they were trumped by his troubles, which included suspensions, locker room brawls and a knifing (he was stabbed in the calf).

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