NEW YORK - Celtics president Rich Gotham pondered for some time whether to bring any lucky trinkets to Tuesday night’s NBA Draft Lottery.
But Gotham, who will be in the room where the ping-pong balls are drawn, isn’t much for superstition. He said he believes that the numbers will fall where they will fall, and that will be that.
He plans to bring along his 2008 championship ring, but nothing more.
Then he started reflecting back on the team’s season, on moments that he found inspirational. Two key instances came to mind.
The first was when Celtics forward Jeff Green made a dramatic buzzer-beating 3-pointer to beat the Miami Heat on the road in early November.
“Another thing that came to mind was our friend Louis Corbett from New Zealand,” Gotham said Tuesday afternoon, hours before the lottery.
With the help of Warren Casey, the CEO of a Boston-based software firm, and from Corinne Grousbeck, wife of Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck, the Celtics helped fund the trip for the 12-year-old Corbett and family members in March after learning that he has a rare degenerative eye disease that is causing him to lose his eyesight.
Corbett had created a “visual bucket list” of things he’d like to see before his sight is gone, such as the Grand Canyon, Empire State Building, Niagara Falls.
But at the very top was his wish to see the Celtics - his favorite team - in person, which he did at a game in early March.
“He was just such a great kid with such a great spirit and his family was so unflinchingly positive in the face of his deteriorating vision,” Gotham said.
What did Gotham do next?
“I reached out to his family (Monday) just to drop him a line and let him know we were thinking about him and asking him to wish us some good luck, and hopefully he’s doing well and carrying on,” said Gotham, who said that he corresponded with Corbett’s mother.
“It was just great to hear from him. If we do get some good luck in there, I will gladly attribute it to Louis and what a positive influence he’s been. And if it turns out that we don’t have good luck, we’ll take his example and we’ll deal whatever draft position we get positively and move forward and make the most of it.”
The night before the lottery, Gotham said he slept well, for the most part.
“It was peaceful until I opened my eyes,” he said. “Unfortunately I opened my eyes at 4:45 a.m. At that point, there was no going to sleep.”
Until the lottery happens, Gotham said, “I’ll sit here for the rest of the day with that top-of-the-roller-coaster kind of feeling, waiting for it to plunge.”
Meanwhile, Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca isn’t leaving anything to chance when it comes to lucky trinkets. He’ll be bringing plenty of them when he represents the team on stage at the lottery.
First, he’ll be wearing a leprechaun-spotted green-and-blue striped tie from the mid-1950s that Red Auerbach gave him in 2002 when a group that included Pagliuca bought the Celtics.
It’s the same tie that Pagliuca wore the night the Celtics beat the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 6 of the 2008 Finals to clinch Boston’s 17th title.
He’ll also be wearing his 2008 championship ring.
He’s bringing a box of Lucky Charms cereal.
And he’ll be have a plastic bag that his son gave him, filled with confetti that rained down on TD Garden’s parquet floor the night the Celtics won the ’08 title.
“If we win, I can throw the confetti,” Pagliuca said hours before the lottery, “but I have to get it back for him because it’s his keepsake.”
But then there’s another trinket that Pagliuca is bringing that might seem a little odd – a handmade ceramic rooster from Portugal.
Robert Sherman, the U.S. Ambassador to Portugal, is a Celtics fan and Boston native. And he was the one who sent Pagliuca the small figurine of a rooster, which is considered to be a symbol of good luck in Portugal.
“There’s this legend of the rooster,” Pagliuca explained. “A pilgrim was crossing Spain and they accused him of stealing some silver from a rich landowner. At the trial, they convicted him, and he was going to get hanged, and he begged and said he didn’t do it.
“The judge was eating a rooster, and the man said, ‘If the rooster stands up on that plate and crows, you have to commute my sentence,’ and it did. So they saved the guy. And the guy went back to Portugal and he carved a rooster there, so it became the symbol of luck there.”
The rooster was painted by Marines who guard the embassy, all of them “big Celtics fans,” Pagliuca said. In return, the NBA helped facilitate an Internet stream of the lottery for those Marines to watch as the event unfolds.
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