BOSTON (AP) – Wyc Grousbeck and Steve Pagliuca made so much money in key roles with major investment firms that they don’t worry about making more as owners of the Boston Celtics.

They try to spend wisely on personnel then sit back and enjoy their product even if it takes years to become a contender.

“From the very beginning we looked at this as kind of a labor of love,” Pagliuca told The Associated Press in a recent interview. “We’re going to create value, but the creation of value is the result of winning championships. We didn’t do this as a classic investment.”

Grousbeck told the AP the team “is not a cash machine” for its large ownership group although it could be sold “comfortably” at a profit.

The latest upgrade promises more excitement – if not a playoff berth – for the bosses who cheer like the longtime fans that they are and talk of passing the team on to their children and grandchildren.

The franchise that has gone 20 years since its last championship is running an uptempo offense with athletic youngsters. It even added a dance team this season, the last in the league to do that. Grousbeck, the chief executive officer, said even 89-year-old patriarch Red Auerbach is fine with that.

“He asked me if we had gotten a sponsor for them,” Grousbeck said, “and we said, ‘Yes, as a matter of fact, here’s the sponsors and here’s what they’re paying.’ He said, ‘Hey, nice job.’ Red is a very good businessman. To this day, he’s the sharpest mind I’ve ever met.”

The approach Grousbeck and Pagliuca used in their investment businesses carried over when they led a group that bought the Celtics on Dec. 31, 2002. They hired Danny Ainge as director of basketball operations and he brought in Doc Rivers as coach for the 2004-05 season.

“We got here by finding good people and betting on them,” Grousbeck said. “We’re doing that with Danny. We’re betting on Danny, and he introduced us to Doc and we’re betting on Doc.”

Since being hired in May 2003, Ainge added first-rounders Kendrick Perkins in 2003, Al Jefferson, Delonte West and Tony Allen in 2004, Gerald Green in 2005 and Rajon Rondo this year. All have progressed and Rondo, chosen with the 21st pick, has exceeded expectations and should share time at point guard with Sebastian Telfair.

“When you look at the young talent, everybody who looks at it says all these guys can break out and become star players,” Pagliuca said.

That may take a long time, if it happens at all. For now, the Celtics want to improve on last season’s 33-49 record, their worst since Grousbeck and Pagliuca became managing partners of the team.

Boston does have a few solid veterans. Paul Pierce is coming off his best season, Wally Szczerbiak is a reliable swingman and Theo Ratliff is an intimidating defender near the basket. Ratliff and Telfair came in a draft day trade with Portland.

After the draft, there was speculation the Celtics might package some young talent for Philadelphia’s Allen Iverson. Grousbeck wouldn’t comment for fear of being accused of tampering.

“Teams are at different life cycles,” Grousbeck said. “If a team wants to rebuild and obtain young talent and draft picks whereas another one might be one piece away, then that could be a rationale for a trade.”

Iverson, no doubt, would have helped the Celtics. But Ainge is counting on the continued development of his young players.

“There are a lot of veterans that aren’t very good players,” Ainge said. “I don’t want experience for the sake of experience.”

Last season, the Celtics had their worst record in seven years and missed the playoffs for the first time in five years. They fell from 45 wins with a more veteran team in Rivers’ first season to 33.

Boston lost five straight games before winning its finale but sold out its last 14 home games.

“We’ve had a steady fan base since we’ve been here,” Pagliuca said. “At some point, the fans will lose patience if you’re not trying to go in the right direction and I think we are trying to go in the right direction.”

They’ve invested by giving long-term contracts to Ainge and Pierce but also benefit from the league’s marketing. The popularity of official league equipment in the United States and overseas has made money for all teams.

The owners may have mellowed outwardly since their early days in charge when they reacted loudly and demonstratively.

“The media wanted us to look like owners, or stuffy owners, and so we realized we have to be a little more careful,” Pagliuca said. “We didn’t think it would be an international crisis if we wore a green shirt to a game, which we still do on occasion.”

They may be even less stuffy if the Celtics are as entertaining as they think.

“We found the deal of a lifetime,” Grousbeck said. “It’s the most fun and exhilaration and despair I’ve ever felt.”


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.