Wyc Grousbeck on OMF: ‘I will never forget last year’

Nick Friar
August 20, 2019 - 6:19 pm
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The players from last year’s Celtics roster that are still with Boston continue to receive questions about their disappointing 2018-19. Whether it’s the season-long drama, both Kyrie Irving and Al Horford leaving or Kemba Walker coming to town, comparing the 2019-20 team to the 2018-19 team seems to have the making of a reoccurring theme.

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Now, the comparison may cease to be a talking point if the Celtics manage to put together a big year in 2019-20. But, one good year isn’t going to take last year’s team off Wyc Grousbeck’s mind.

“I will never forget last year,” the Celtics governor said on Ordway, Merloni & Fauria as part of the WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio Telethon. “There’s good years I won’t forget. I won’t let anybody else forget them either, the good years. But last year was a year that was frustrating enough that I’ll never forget it. But I’ll be glad to talk about something else by playing better. The only way to erase some of it is to step forward over the next five, 10 years and do something meaningful. It gives me all the more reason, it gives all of us all the more reason to get back to where we want to be.”

Grousbeck’s disappointment isn’t rooted from the Celtics not winning the 2019 NBA Finals — though they would’ve had a good chance with the Warriors down Kevin Durant and eventually Klay Thompson. But the way the 2019 NBA Playoffs ended for Boston didn’t sit well, given the way it started.

“During the season, it was definitely a difficult, frustrating, up-and-down (year). We had good moments,” Grousbeck said. “For a stretch there, I was talking to Danny (Ainge) yesterday at lunch — for a stretch there, we were, statistically, the best or second-best team in the league for, I don’t know, (a) six-week stretch if you look at certain stats. We knew we weren’t the best team in the league, but we weren’t as bad as we finished. So I was puzzled by winning five playoff games in a row — sweeping Indiana, then winning the first game in Milwaukee. So I felt like we had gotten our free pass (from) the stuff that happened in the regular season. I actually thought, you win five in a row, you win on the road in Milwaukee pretty handily ... I’m sort of thinking, ‘Well OK then.’ And then we lose four straight and get banged out of there, swept out of there. It made it all the worse. So I’ve been frustrated ever since and we’ve made some changes and change has happened to us.”

One player who’s received the majority of the blame has been Irving. He deserves a portion of it, but almost everyone affiliated with last year’s team refuses to place the focus on the Nets’ new point guard.

Although he’s quick to mention the “character rookies” or that the organization is “hopeful that the chemistry will be there” — because they are loving the way the team is built — Grousbeck is no exception when it comes to Irving.

“I am a Kyrie fan as a person, as well as, as a player,” Grousbeck said. “He gave us two years of effort. It didn’t work out this year. He did genuinely say to us, to the fans, ‘I’m coming back if you’ll have me,’ he really meant that. And then things changed, but it wasn’t out of ill-will or — he meant it and he tried to make it happen, then it wasn’t right for him. That’s a little different than saying, he was never telling the truth, he always hated it here. It’s not true. He gave it a good try. It turned out not to be his long-term home. It is what it is. … I don’t sit there and say he’s a bad guy because he’s not. He’s doing his best.”