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Wyc Grousbeck on D&C: Full transcript

Posted By Ian Tasso On March 25, 2010 @ 7:09 pm In General | No Comments

One of the many captivating stories of the 2010 Celtics season has been the development of point guard Rajon Rondo, who is shooting at a 51.3 percent clip.

Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck joined Dale & Holley Thursday morning to talk a little bit about Rondo as a player, how he came about to be a member of the Celtics and how important the Kentucky alum will be for the Celtics as they move toward the future.

“I’ve been very proud of Rondo since day one,” Grousbeck said. “I’ve loved the way he’s played and the way he’s developed. He’s going to be here for five years after this, and I’m really proud of that, and we’ll build from there.”

Grousbeck also touched on the big win over the Nuggets, as well as which NBA team scares him the most — and it doesn’t include LeBron James, Dwight Howard or even Kobe Bryant.

“The team that makes me nervous is the Celtics. I’m serious, I think we have a chance to be as good as anybody at any given time. We’re worried about a lot of teams, but it starts with us.”

Below is a transcript. To listen to the whole interview, click here. [1]

That was fun last night, wasn’t it?

I had a smile on my face from beginning to end, nice little 14-point win over the Nuggets. I was out there in Denver when we lost to them, month-and-a-half two months ago, so it’s nice to get them back.

When you sit that close, you ever think you’re going to go after the refs, chase them down?

No, but they can hear me from there. I reminded one of them that we were on national TV last night, ESPN, and he better sharpen up his game a little.

I normally think Tommy’s over the top, last night I was right with him. What the hell were they watching?

I don’t know. I guess, I would say that it seemed to be equally distributed from my standpoint. I know the guys are trying, but we try to encourage them to remember certain rules, like three seconds and charging and goaltending and some of that.

Celtics fans have been up and down with this team. Some days they feel great, other days they feel down. What about you?

It has been up and down, you can’t hide from that. You have to be honest with people, be honest with yourself. We’ve always felt though, inside the team, that this team has a chance, and that was probably a lull in the middle of the season, not from being lazy, but from being tired or conserving energy. It’s like running a marathon, which I’ve done, slowly, but I do them. And you’re going through Wellesley, you haven’t even hit the hills yet, and you’re saying, boy, this is a long haul, and I think that’s a little bit of what happened this year. I’m not trying to make an excuse, that’s just my honest opinion, and I’m really happy to see them playing better, and with more energy and better defense right now. I don’t think they’ve been lying around, laughing, saying ha-ha, let’s take a game off; I think they’ve been doing their best to get ready for April, and here we are — we’re almost there.

How did you separate how you felt about the team at the trading deadline and the positions that you hold?

I am of the belief that if you break up a starting unit that won a championship two years ago, and then started 27-2 last year and this year, what were we, 24-3, I don’t remember, 24-5, another good start this year. If you break that up, you better take 10 games off your record just doing that, if you’re going to break it up in February. So I think just off keeping this group together and adding to it, which we did with Nate and which we did with Michael Finley, and they both contributed, it’s a very viable plan for this year, not so much for the long-term plan necessarily, but it was a good plan, we thought, for this year, and that’s why we did it.

What were some of your observations before Rondo before he signed his contract extension?

Listen, I went to Danny, and said, I want you to buy a pick, and I want you to go get Rondo. And that was not the plan until I went and did that. I went to him in the war room, and said it’s time, go buy a pick and go get Rondo, we had just gotten [Sebastian] Telfair, I said go get Rondo, too, because you love the kid and I believe in you. So we went and got 21, and Rondo fell to 21 and we got him. So I’ve been very proud of Rondo since day one, and I’ve loved the way he’s played and the way he’s developed. So that’s how I feel about Rondo.

Who’s the best point guard in the NBA? Deron Williams, Chris Paul, Rajon Rondo.

I know what Rondo would say.

Rondo might say Williams.

He might, Williams gives him trouble, and Williams is a heck of a player. I think Rondo, and I like to do it on the basis of ring count, that’s how I like to start. Look down at your fingers and see if you’re wearing one. But I think all three of those guys are phenomenal, but the one guy who’s gotten less ink and less attention and gets more dissing and criticism is Rondo, and by the way he’s got things to work on. So he’s the first one to try to work on it. He’s probably got farther to go than those other guys, because they may be more complete players now, you could argue that for sure, but I like Rondo just as much as I like those other guys.

I love Rondo just because of how he plays, he’s so much fun to watch.

And he’s going 100 miles per hour. It’s phenomenal. And the other guys love playing with him, and they love the energy that he brings. When he goes, and brings three guys into the paint, guys are magically open for shots, and then there’s the ball coming from behind his back, and Ray’s got a look at a 3. It’s a great thing. That sequence at the end of the Dallas game, where Ray hit a couple of shots, Paul hit a 3, I think the dish was from Rondo, and then Rondo scored I think 10 straight points. Nobody can withstand that. When we play that way, we can beat anybody.

When you told Danny during the draft, what was it about Danny’s reaction that let you know he was crazy about Rondo?

It was working with Danny and getting to know Danny. I do want to establish that Steve Pagliuca introduced Danny into the mix originally; he had known Danny from the past. So there’s credit to go all around. When a team wins, there’s lots of credit to go around. I had interacted with Danny getting ready for that draft, so had Steve, so had other people, and we had heard Danny say my guy is Rondo, I’d love to get the kid. And then Danny made the trade to do other things and free up salary space in the future, and bring in Telfair, who we thought could play, and this, and that and the other thing, and before you knew it, Rondo was off the board. And I just believed in Danny, and felt that I ought to give him the gasoline for his tank, and get him going, I ought to trust in this guy, that I really thought, and Steve thought and other people thought, was a great manager. So it’s just betting on your good people.

How do you look at what ownership’s role is in all of this?

We don’t really talk about the inner-workings of all the decision processes necessarily. We just don’t really drag it all out there. I would say though that Danny has proven himself right so many times in the draft just as one example, drafting players, not ever single time I suppose, but drafting Al [Jefferson] at 15 and [Kendrick Perkins] at 27, Rondo at 21, Ryan Gomes and [Leon] Powe at 49 and 50, he’s a great drafter. One example, of interacting between ownership and a general manager is the draft. I love it when Danny’s got a draft pick, because I figure it’s usually going to work out in our favor.

Is there a team that makes you nervous matchup-wise in the playoffs?

The team that makes me nervous is the Celtics. I’m serious, I think we have a chance to be as good as anybody at any given time. And it’s not just flashes of it. I think people are looking at us and saying, let’s avoid those guys in the playoffs. I think it starts with us, and then worry about the other teams. We should be worried about other teams, Atlanta beat us four times, Cleveland has the edge on us, obviously the Lakers and other people out west. Orlando beat us last year. We’re worried about a ton of teams, but it starts with us.

Tell me about the business end of this whole operation this year. We see empty seats. What’s business like in the NBA?

David Stern said the other day we’re down league-wise 2 percent, and he said actually we had projected worse than that. Business in the NBA could be improved league-wide, no question, but the fans have kept the league generally better off than we thought we might be. In our building, fans have been phenomenal. I think they know we put the money back into the team. We take in a certain amount of tickets every year, and it’s our 140th straight sellout or something, we’re going on our fourth straight season of being sold out, so we thank everybody for that, but we spent almost twice as much on the team, and the coaches and the travel — literally just basketball expenses, nothing else — twice as much as we take in from tickets. So the fans pretty much know when they buy a ticket it’s going to the team, and then we’re adding onto that. I think it works, when you do it that way, it works.

Have you done anything different this year than in the past, has the market affected you?

It really hasn’t, we’re at a record pay roll for us, we’re at $101 million, we’ve never been anywhere near that I don’t think. We view this as a year where we could win it, so we’ve thrown everything at that. Signing Rasheed in the offseason mid-level when we’re already over the tax, so double that obviously, and bringing in other people, we have 14 players now instead of 15, we’re running it pretty hot right now, and it’s all geared towards putting banner 18 up there some day. And hopefully that’s this year.

If you don’t win it this year, do you think you have to start over and remix some of the major parts of this team?

I think some of that naturally has to happen, and it’s not my favorite part of the job, changing things around. I love things just the way they are, I’d be glad to play the 2008 season again, starting next year. I was a history major in college, I love the way things were and the way things used to be, and particularly ’08 was a great year. But when we look ahead to ’11, ‘12 and ‘13, it’s going to be a new team eventually. Start with Rondo, he’s going to be here for five years after this, and I’m really proud of that, and we’ll build from there.


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