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Such comparisons are, in the end, weaker than dishwater. But they are inevitable, for it is almost impossible to find a fan who will talk about the Celtics of the present without referencing the Celtics of the past. That's how it is and how it will remain.
They're here," says Ainge, peering out of his second-floor office window into the weight room below.
"Who?" I ask.
"The guys we're trying out," he says.
"Do you know all of them by sight?" I ask.
"Of course," he answers, looking at me like I'm nuts. "There's Joe Crawford, shooting guard from Kentucky. There's Sean Singletary, point guard, Virginia. There's...."
There is no Russell, no Bird, no Pierce, no Garnett in that group. Barring a trade, the Celtics have only their two picks for Thursday's draft, at the end of the first round and the end of the second. Picking so low, they can only hope to find a role player or two. Still, Ainge is eager to see these prospects in action, eager to begin the next season just hours after the old season has ended. I envy him. He never seemed younger than he does right now, so much a part of a golden past, living a blissful present, looking ahead to a sparkling future.