There's just one year remaining until the 2020 Summer Olympics begin in Tokyo, Japan.
The 2020 Games will feature several new sports, with the additions of karate, sport climbing, surfing and skateboarding, plus the returns of baseball and softball. Another new sport is 3x3 basketball, which will be played in a halfcourt set, with a 12-second shot clock, with shots inside the arc counting for one point and shots outside the arc counting for two points. Games are 10 minutes long, and the first team to score 21 points will win.
As a fun exercise, we tasked A. Sherrod Blakely and Chris Forsberg to draft their own 3-on-3 teams from the all-time Celtics roster. Since Olympic teams will consist of three starters and one substitute, we only needed to draft four rounds. And with All-Stars and Hall of Famers galore over the years, picking a four-person roster was no easy task.
Sherrod won the coin flip and received the first pick. Away we go...
A. Sherrod Blakely: I went with Larry Bird for several reasons. Successful teams in 3-on-3 competition usually have a nice mix of talent that can score both at the rim as well as from the perimeter. When you talk about all-time great Celtics, you would be hard-pressed to find one who excelled in those areas while displaying a timeless skillset, the way Bird did. And he’s the ultimate competitor, providing a level of mental toughness that any great 3-on-3 team has to have. Plus, kids from French Lick, Indiana, can't ball right? (Make that mistake if you want to; we know better!)
Chris Forsberg: Bill Russell. 3-on-3. 5-on-5. 100-on-100. It doesn’t matter. Give me the greatest winner in team sports and chances are my team is winning the crown. Russell backbones our defense, gobbles up rebounds, and gives us a presence in the paint on offense. What’s more, we’re making him our unofficial player/coach and letting him ensure the right mix of players are on the court.
Blakely: OK, I got my inside guy. Up next, I need a talented, trash-talking ass-kicker. There can only be one... Kevin Garnett.
We have seen him make grown ass men cry! We've seen rookies go out of their way to not make eye contact with him for fear of permanent incineration or worse... he might speak (and berate, intimidate and next thing you know, you're on the bench after picking up three fouls in two minutes). But as much as he talked, KG could back it all up. And as I mentioned with Bird, KG’s inside-outside game will create mismatches in a 3-on-3 setting. And his defensive acumen allows him to make an impact in that phase of play as well.
Forsberg: Bob Cousy. Everyone knows a 3-on-3 team is only as successful as the player directing all the traffic. The Cousy/Russell chemistry was practically unstoppable in the NBA and they’ll be running teams off the playground in their Converse high tops. Cousy’s playmaking ensures easy shots for everyone on the roster.
Blakely: HAVLICEK A STEAL AT 3! HAVLICEK A STEAL AT 3! Just like Danny Ainge and company were giddy about getting Carsen Edwards in the second round of last month's draft, me getting the franchise's all-time leading scorer at No. 3 is a major draft day heist. Hondo is the ultimate 3-on-3 stud. He can score, handle the ball some, rebound, defend, play multiple positions and do so as a starter or coming off the bench. He provides a level of diversity with his game that makes him abso-freakingly perfect for our championship 3-on-3 team.
Forsberg: Paul Pierce. Our go-to scorer, Pierce has the freedom to put up whatever shot he likes when he’s on the court. He can play his old-man game, use up all 12 seconds on the shot clock, and create shots from all over the floor. He can bust out his stepbacks or bully smaller defenders. Plus, Pierce gives us a player who wants the big shot at the end of games.
Blakely: My fourth and final selection is Dennis Johnson. While all of the first three picks have the ability to initiate the offense in the halfcourt set, there has to be a floor general in the mix. Because of the 3-on-3 format, my floor general has to be tough, gritty and basically a pain in the ass to try and score against. Yes, that is Dennis Johnson. He will be the one player whose defense will lead to easy buckets offensively. And like the rest of the team, he has the kind of mental toughness that will allow us to be the last team standing. It was a tough call between him and Kyrie Irving for this last spot, but my draft crew opted to go with the guy who won titles here, has his jersey retired to the rafters and didn't want to leave.
Forsberg: Ray Allen. Listen, this is simple math. In 3-on-3 play, a 3-pointer is worth twice as much as anything inside the arc. With so much talent around him, good luck stopping Allen with one guy forced to chase him all over the playground. Allen could fire away with Russell down low trying to clean up anything errant. We gave consideration to Kyrie Irving but couldn’t risk the chemistry issues, as well as Marcus Smart, but couldn’t risk him hurting himself or someone else in the ultra-competitive nature of these quick games.
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