On Friday the basketball world lost a true icon in one Dave Gavitt. Gavitt was never really appreciated the way he deserved
to be in Boston. I find this simple little fact very hard to wrap my head
around. Gavitt was a college basketball icon. His list of accomplishments
includes the following:
Providence to the NCAA tournament five times, including the Final Four in 1973.
2. Gavitt was
considered the driving force behind the formation of the Big East Conference
and was its first commissioner serving from 1979 to 1990
3. He was on the
NCAA’s Division I Basketball Committee from 1980-84.
4. He was NCAA
chairman from 1982-84 during that time the tournament expanded to 64 teams and
the first of its TV contracts with CBS was negotiated.
5. He was
president of the NCAA Foundation
6. Gavitt worked
as tournament director of the Maui Invitational from 2005 until 2009
7. He was selected
to coach the U.S. Olympic team in 1980, but the United States boycotted the
8. Gavitt was
president of USA Basketball and helped with the introduction of NBA players
onto the U.S. Olympic roster, including the Dream Team at the 1992 Games.
9. Gavitt served
as chairman of the Basketball Hall of Fame.
10. Gavitt was
elected to the Hall Of Fame in 2006.
However, some of his best work
was done as the Vice President of the Boston Celtics. This is the work that
Celtics fans just do not appreciate. Stepping into the shadow of Red Auerbach
to run the Boston Celtics is not a task most would be up for. Gavitt was more
than up for the challenge. After some disappointing seasons with the original “Big
Three” aging and not much supporting cast, Gavitt rebuilt the team with young
legs. He made former first round pick Brian Shaw come to Boston. He then
drafted Dee Brown to add even more young legs to the guard spot. He kept Kevin
Gamble despite the fact he was nothing more than a CBA castoff that could not
make it with Portland. These men along with Reggie Lewis breathed life back
into the Celtics and the result was the team went 108 and 56 in his first two
years running the show.
Gavitt was dealt a bad hand by
fate after these first two seasons. Larry Bird was too hurt to continue and
retired. The next great Celtics Reggie Lewis passed away in the prime of his
career. Adding insult to injury the NBA and David Stern made the salary of
Lewis count against the cap. Kevin McHale would finally retire and Robert
Parrish would move on from the once proud franchise. The man also had to
contend with the worst owners in sports next to Jeremy Jacobs in the “Thanks
Dad” Gaston group. Those guys did not spend a dime that they did not have to
and refused to pay the money required to have a class organization. These are called
the dark ages in Celtics history for a reason. By 1994 the Celtics demise was
complete and the owners laid the blame on Gavitt rather than the true culprits:
themselves. Gavitt was replaced by stupidity in M.L.Carr and then true evil in one Rick Pitino. Looking at how
that panned out, Gavitt must have been chuckling hard to himself. Actually he
probably wasn’t because he was such a caring and supporting guy to all his
former Big East guys, but he should have been laughing.
Gavitt was the first guy to
truly be in charge after Red. He did a great job and had the cards been dealt
another way with Reggie Lewis for a few more years, maybe he would have had a
longer stay in Boston. The bottom line is Gavitt kept the Celtics in the spot
light as a contender for another two seasons despite an aging core and a
wretched owner. Rather than remember the sad state they fell into due to
tragedy and terrible owners and falsely give Gavitt the blame, remember the man
for working wonders with a truly bad situation. RIP Dave Gavitt and thank you
for the ” Zip Boy” Era Remember Go Green Or Go Home!!!!!!!!!!!!