The Garden's Always Greener

The Garden's Always Greener:
Another NBA Timeline

by Jon Rineman

About the Book

In 1986, the Boston Celtics were basketball’s gold standard – NBA Champions and owners of the second pick in that year’s draft. From Jon Rineman (writer for The Tonight Show, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, WWE) The Garden’s Always Greener explores a timeline where the good times rolled, thanks to a charismatic rookie who changed everything. From one player saving Tupac to stopping O.J. to another’s unlikely billions as a coffee magnate, it is a complete reimagining of the late-80s and 90s – with traces of 11/22/63, Forrest Gump, and Curb Your Enthusiasm. A hilarious, uplifting must-read for Gen Xers, Millennials, and fans of all ages.Based on a computer simulation (with a story crafted around it), the book includes everything from narrative to historic rosters to Playoff brackets, as well as imagined newspaper clippings, talk show transcripts, and sitcom pages. If you are a fan of NBA tomes such as The Jordan Rules and When The Game Was War, documentaries such as The Last Dance, or HBO’s Winning Time, you’ll love this reimagined glance at what could’ve been during the NBA’s Golden Era of the 1980s and 90s.

Alzheimer's Association®

Jon has dedicated this book to his father, Jon Sr. who passed away from Alzheimer's disease.
Jon will be making a donation to the Alzheimer's Association in memory of his father.

About the Author

Jon Rineman, Jr. is a native of North Hampton, New Hampshire, and a lifelong Boston Celtics fan. From 2009-2018, he wrote for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and The Tonight Show. He has also written for Jay Leno, Seth Meyers, The ESPY Awards, The White House Correspondents’ Dinner, The Golden Globes, World Wrestling Entertainment’s Monday Night Raw, Sir Paul McCartney (a couple jokes for one award show but still, a Beatle!) and Larry Bird (for one bit in one monologue, but still, Larry Bird!). Jon hosted Rineman in the Morning for 102.1/105.3 The Shark in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. He resides in New England and has one daughter.

Praise for “The Garden’s Always Greener

Jay Leno

“I always read a writer’s material before I decide to meet with them. I decided to meet with Jon Rineman. That should tell you everything you need to know. Case closed. Enjoy the book."
– Jay Leno

Gary Gulman

“This book brings together three of my favorite pastimes: playing “what if?”; the NBA; and Jon Rineman’s comedy! A delightful read!”
– Gary Gulman, The Great Depresh

Justin Termine

“As some who has spent two decades working in sports media, I believe the two keys to success are the ability to entertain and teach. Jon does both of those things in this book. He is one of the most talented writers I know, and certainly the most passionate basketball fan I know. Give a talented writer something they are passionate about and the result is what we have here in the pages that follow.”
– Justin Termine, Host of NBA Today on SiriusXM Radio

Wayne Federman

“Leave it to Jon Rineman to create a new genre of sports writing. He combines historical, magical realism with a ton of jokes. Plus add a dash of Boston Celtic fanaticism and you get The Garden’s Always Greener.”
– Wayne Federman, Curb Your Enthusiasm & Official Biographer of Basketball Hall of Famer Pete Maravich

Brian Kiley

“Jon Rineman is the Larry Bird of joke writing if Larry Bird also happened to be great at writing jokes.”
– Brian Kiley, Head Monologue Writer for Conan

Rules of the Simulation

In 2020, during COVID-19 lockdown, Jon began his simulation on the video game NBA2K.


  1. Do not talk about the simulation

  2. Write about the simulation

  3. No computer-generated transactions until after the 1987-88 season

  4. Only simulating, except for Opening Night, Christmas Day & Elimination Games (which can be played)

  5. No playing as the Celtics unless [Celtic draft pick] is still on team

  6. Manage the Celtics in the style of their then-GM & coach

  7. Each season after his hypothetical departure is to be entirely simulated

  8. All Drafts are to be simulated except for Boston’s picks

  9. In the case of a notably close game, an accompanying story is crafted (For example, the ‘Finals really did feature those teams and end that closely)

  10. No retirements or injuries are to be forced (hence, Larry Bird’s long journey)

  11. The Boston Globe Archives are to be used for research; when in doubt, go with what Bob Ryan said the Celtics should do (WWBRD?)

  12. No playing as any other team but the Celtics (I regret this; step outside your comfort zone once in a while! It could give you a longer story…)

Jon has dedicated this book to his father, Jon Sr. who passed away from Alzheimer's disease. Jon will be making a donation to the Alzheimer's Association in his memory.