The pressure's off.
Or maybe it isn't. Maybe the pressure becomes greater -- just as the window shrinks -- with age. Maybe you handle it better because you're that much wiser. Maybe it consumes you and becomes too much.
Today Ray Allen talked about a two-year window and about an aging Celtics roster. He was referring to 2007, when said window was imposed on Allen and the newly-formed Big Three. The Celtics won the championship that season. They've been battling the window theory ever since.
"When I finally hang them up, I'll consider my window to be closed," an eternally trim Allen said this afternoon in Waltham.
The Celtics brought back Allen, along with Paul Pierce, for another title run this season. Along with Kevin Garnett and new additions Shaquille and Jermaine O'Neal, the core of the Celtics is old. Whether they're too old is up for debate, but no one can argue that an already aging team has indeed turned one year older.
Having been to the last four Celtics media days, it's evident there's an excitement surrounding this group that doesn't quite match 2007 but far exceeds 2008 and 2009.
Paul Pierce confirms.
"Truthfully, man, I have the same feeling about this team like I had in '08, when we added Kevin to the team, and Ray" said Pierce. "Just the additions that we have with Shaq and Jermaine and Delonte [West] and some of the rookies, I just feel like this is one of the most talented teams top to bottom, that I've had since I've been a Celtic."
It's popular to hand this season's championship to the new Big Three in Miami, but the truth is the Celtics know they're one of a handful of teams who can compete with the Heat this season.
The Celtics are saying all the right things about the Heat.
"I think at the end of the day great players are going to figure it out," said Pierce. "You've got players with a lot of accomplishments already. I don't think egos are going to be an issue because they all have a common goal."
But make no mistake: Pierce doesn't seem worried about Miami. An exasperated Pierce, after answering several more questions about the Heat this afternoon, reminded reporters that Miami was not the only team in contention. After all, the Lakers are the defending champions.
Allen, when asked about the Heat, reminded reporters that the NBA is a copycat league. The Celtics loaded up in 2007, and teams like Orlando and Cleveland followed suit. Now it's Miami's turn, though the Lakers are still the team to beat.
Speaking of Los Angeles, different Celtics said different things about Game 7 (which, unbelievably, happened just over three months ago) today. Doc Rivers said he's watched the tape over and over. Rajon Rondo said he didn't think about it.
Said Kevin Garnett, "It's going to drive everybody."
Several new Celtics weren't present for Game 7 in Los Angeles, but they've got reasons to be driven, too. Jermaine O'Neal played in Miami last season. Shaquille O'Neal played with LeBron James in Cleveland.
"In one pickup game he got three fast-break lay-ups," Pierce said of Shaq. "You don't really hear about Shaq getting fast-break lay-ups. But he's looked good."
Said Garnett, "It's good to have the big fella here. I told him it's a shame we had to wait for the last couple of years to play together."
The Celtics say they have healed, metaphorically and physically, from Game 7. The pressure appears to be on Miami. Celtics fans would do well to take a cue from their team and not worry about the length of their team's window.
That it's still open should be enough.