We are spending some time looking back over the Boston Celtics championship season… in an effort to truly appreciate the efforts of those involved. In our fifth installment of our series, we continue our appreciation of the players.
There aren’t many of us who got excited about Danny Ainge acquiring the rights to second round draft pick Leon Powe two years ago. I wasn’t. I wasn’t even sure he’d stick around.
And then I saw this story, along with the workout photo, and I immediately ran a story with the headline “This Is A Celtic.” I was hooked. Give me the conductor’s hat. All aboard the Leon Powe bandwagon.
I’m not going dive into his life story here. That story has been told better than I could ever present it. But I do know that life has given Leon plenty of “outs.” Not only has Leon had a million chances to give up, there would have been plenty of people who would have understood why he did. The excuses were almost pre-written on little cards that he could read as he explained why he was quitting. But he didn’t take them. I don’t think even thought of looking at them.
The cards were there for him this season, too. He had a stretch of garbage-time-only minutes early this season, but was called on for meaningful minutes against Philly in January. The easy thing would have been to play poorly and blame a lack of minutes. I would have understood. Most of the heat would actually have been on Doc Rivers. But in 15 minutes, Leon put up 10 points and 6 boards, while keeping an athletic 76’ers team away from the basket. The game was a blowout, mainly because of Leon’s contribution.
That’s the thing about Leon. He’s always ready. The 21 point explosion he had against the Lakers followed 8 straight single-digit-minute games. You’re not supposed to do that. You’re supposed to come out cold and struggle.
Leon’s always ready. Wake him up from a dead sleep and give him 15 minutes… he’ll give you 15 points and 8 boards. Not only that, he’ll draw 8 fouls when he’s in there. He’s always drawing fouls. He’s always in the mix. He’s always… there.
Undersized or not. Minutes or not. When you tap him on the shoulder, he’s ready to go. He’s always mentally and physically ready to do what you need him to do. And what he does on the court is a microcosm of what he’s done in life. He always, through no fault of his own, seems to get thrown into a position that makes success improbable. But he always seems to succeed. Failure simply is not an option for him.
Leon Powe is a Celtic, because he is an inspiration. An embodiment of everything we teach our kids. ‘Work hard, and it will pay off’ we tell them. ‘Don’t give up. Perseverance will pay off’ we preach. And in a world full of exceptions that could easily make us look like fools, Leon Powe is the law that reinforces our lessons. Hard work does pay off. Perseverance can trump adversity. Leon Powe proves it. And for that, Leon, we appreciate the job you’ve done in helping us achieve the ultimate goal… an NBA title.
Herald: Giddens a gamble | Ainge again busy late | For Celts, future is now | Globe: Taking a shot with JR | The ’08 draft choices | Ainge’s plan masterful | Fresh faces taken early | World Title helps | Souza: Backcourt duo could be silly | T&G: C’s take a shot at Giddens | East Valley Tribune: Grant Hill staying in Phoenix