Toughness is difficult (tough?) to define, but for this one I am going for is the ability and drive to do what is required to win, or survive in basketball or life, no matter what the obstacles. This goes well beyond the ability to lay someone out on the floor.
Coach Brad Stevens, as little as seven months ago called his team tough. Where did it go?
Brad Stevens on the 2017-18 Celtics: “I’ve been around a lot of teams and have been fortunate to be around a lot of really tough teams. I’m not sure I’ve been around one that, in the face of a tough stretch on a basketball court, responds better than this one.”
— Chris Forsberg (@ChrisForsberg_) April 16, 2018
Even owner Wic Grousbeck chimed in on his team’s toughness back then (per ESPN’s Zach Lowe):
Gather enough tough players and it can have an exponential effect on a team’s collective toughness. They inspire each other to more intense fury. They hold everyone accountable; even brief moments of lethargy and weakness are unacceptable. Wyc Grousbeck, the team’s owner, compares them to a crew team rowing together: They feel when one guy is giving only 90 percent, and either push him harder or eventually replace him. “This is my favorite Celtics team ever, in terms of energy, camaraderie and underdog spirit,” Grousbeck said.
And, yes, last season’s team in the post-season was remarkably tough, despite all the injuries. What happened? But it brings to mind what five all-time Celtics players were the toughest – would pull through any adversity to win and move forward. This one is wide open, and the choices are many. We are not looking for the biggest – most muscular – best bench press – best boxer or martial arts master.
My team is Paul Pierce, Larry Bird, Dave Cowens, Marcus Smart and Bill Russell. What’s yours?
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Photo via Kevin Sulllivan/Orange County Register
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