Sunday, July 14, 2013
Hello, Crooklyn!: New York Pulls Hall-Of-Fame Heist As Celtics Press Reset Button
The move that some have been clamoring for the past few years; the change that others have been fearing and railing against; the inevitable final wrap to the thrilling show that was "The New Big Three Era" has faded to black...Brooklyn black (and white).
I still haven't completely wrapped my mind around the idea that Paul Pierce...The Truth...is bringing his game (if you thought I was gonna say "taking his talents," you're in the wrong area code, buddy!) to Brooklyn along with honorary lifelong Celtic Kevin Garnett and unfortunate tattoo victim Jason Terry.
Calling all New Jersey area tatt artists...start practicing the conversion of a leprechaun to this:
Seriously, though...I'm not going to make this a long post (Yeah, right! You wish!) full of wistful memories about The Captain, 2008, or The Big Ticket or even the decommissioned old Jet. There have been more than enough of those pieces from other sports reporters, bloggers, family members and friends, news reporters trying their hand at sensitive sports esoterica, man-in-the-street reaction (sigh...Brooklyn "fans"), sad pets (no, seriously....)
...and much of it has been either exactly what I would have said or would have wanted to say.
So, briefly, here are a few random thoughts that I wanted to throw out into the wind and watch them drift and fade into the dirt of the new Celtics foundation:
* I Am Really Happy For Paul And Kevin (And Jet, Too): No, really...I am. And, just to prove it, I'm gonna recite a really sappy line that I believe rather appropriate to this situation -- "If you love something, set it free. If it returns to you, then it was meant to be." It's no secret for those five of you who have read this blog (okay, I was stretching...two...thanks again Mom and Dad!) that Paul Pierce is my religion and the Boston Garden is the house of worship. But, when the trade was announced, I kind of felt relief. Relief because, as much as I wanted The Truth to have only ever worn the green upon retirement, I saw how much he and KG struggled to pull the C's along against New York and I really didn't want to watch it get a little worse each year until they retired broken and dispirited.
No, like any healthy end to a relationship this serious and committed, I wanted Paul to be able to walk away in good shape, take on his new life unafraid of trusting another team again, and find that special thing that makes him happy (Woah!! I have GOT to stop watching the Hallmark Channel with my girlfriend IMMEDIATELY!!).
My point being, Pierce and KG want the opportunity to play for another championship. They deserve that chance. They were robbed at least twice from having it happen again here in Boston (2009 and 2010), and this is their best possible chance at it before they hang 'em up. It was different with Ray for some reason (even though he was completely within his rights to take his talents to South Beach [ahh, THERE it is!] after Danny tried to trade him a couple of times and then Doc sat him for Avery Bradley). I don't know why, but it just was. Good luck, P2 and KG...I'll really miss you guys, but I can't wait to see what you do down in the BRK. Which leads me to another personal revelation...
* I'm going Back to the Future with these new Celtics, and I don't mind the trip. Back in the Ramon Rivas, Ricky Davis, Sherman Douglas transitions I still watched my C's faithfully, sliding slowly from the sadness of the passing of the original Big Three era, the frustration of the M.L. Carr era (the M.L. stood for Mediocricy of Losers), to the empty-faced dejection of watching the other teams in the NBA become what my once-proud Celtics had always been.
But you know what? I started to really enjoy basketball again. I watched with wonder and basket ball bliss as the Bulls, Suns, Spurs and Pistons (okay, Bulls, Suns and Spurs, anyway...) played great basketball against other up-and-coming teams and I got to appreciate just how hard it actually was for teams to get to the Finals and win a Championship. As Danny continues on in full "pardon our appearance as we remodel" mode, I'm looking around the League with all the talented players on rising teams like the Clippers, Warriors, Cavaliers, Rockets, Timberwolves, Pacers, Nets (yes, even the Nets) and I'm really excited for the future of basketball. Which leads me to this observation...
* The Celtics A) are not going to be THAT bad and B) the future looks pretty bright for the C's right about now. Kelly Olynyk looks like a steal at #13 (I know, I know summer league...but you can't fake some of the offensive skills this guy is showing), we still have the best point guard in the League, Jeff Green is going to continue to be exciting, we have a handful of promising young talent and an even more promising six first-round picks in the next five years, Sullenger looks like a keeper and is taking on a little bit of a leadership role with his defiance of the Tanking Lobby...which takes me to my last thought...
* The Celtics would do well to not even think about pretending to wonder about the concept of tanking. I have only seven words to more than adequately illustrate why this is NEVER a good idea: Tim Duncan, Kevin Durant and Greg Oden. For all the lore about the Luck O' The Irish and Celtic Mystique, the Celtics have been REALLY unlucky when they decide to provoke the fates and play intentionally bad basketball. Sure, the C's turned a lemon into Limoncello with the Durant/Oden crap-out by trading a draft pick and three quarters of the team for the pieces that would bring us Banner # 17, but the point is, they didn't get what they were shooting for with the all-out tank job. Leave tanking to the real losers of the league. Cleveland and Orlando, though both are admittedly now on the way up (Cleveland is definitely going to be heard from sooner than later), have tanked in their respective pasts. Guess how many championships they've won between the two of them? Here's a hint: if the number were an ex-pro football player turned actor, his name would be Dick Bupkis. No, I think the Celtics are on the correct path compiling draft pick after draft pick, dumping salary and hiring for the future.
Which takes me to my last point...
I am, as I have repeatedly stated, a true CFL (Celtic For Life) and I will always follow my green like a good husband -- in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer.
But, I'm sure I can be forgiven this season when I sit down on some cold and lonely Winter's night -- bowl of chips and drink by my side with clicker in hand flipping through cable as I wait for my beloved Celtics -- but instead, I stumble across an old familiar friend or two...(something's different about them. Did they change their hair? No, they're dressing differently!) and spending a little time with the team from Brooklyn.
I mean, they're coming back to retire as a Celtic, right? It doesn't mean anything. I don't love the Nets, I just have some unresolved issues that I need to work out.
Boston Magazine's Farewell To Pierce and Kevin Garnett, Sports Illustrated's "End Of An Era Feature On The Truth and Big Ticket, Boston Globe's Goodbye, Comcast Sports Net "Paul And KG End Of An Era" Coverage