Monday, March 19, 2007


Tanks for Nothing

Contrary to popular belief, I want the Celtics to succeed. But I do have a tough time swallowing the idea that beating San Antonio for the first time in 17 years stands as any kind of meaningful development. To me, it never was anything more than a weird statistic that served as an example of how the lottery plays a huge role in building a winning NBA franchise.

So in that sense, finally defeating the Spurs in a game that further jeopardizes our impending draft position is all the more appropriate as an example of how fucked up the Celtics are run as an organization.

It takes three things to win in the NBA – money, balls (as in, “nerve”) and luck. Two first two of these things are in the owner’s hands (so to speak), and the third is overrated. That the Celtics have been perceived of as “cursed” or “unlucky” is simply a shorthand for acknowledging they’ve been chronically mismanaged by cheap owners who made a bad situation worse by refusing to take a financial hit while rebuilding the franchise correctly.

The Celtics have not had a clear-cut vision as a franchise since at least the early 90’s. During the current era (or “blog-era” as I’m starting to think of it) they lucked into Al Jefferson at #15, but they remain a team primarily comprised of talent drafted mid to late in the first round (or busts like Bassy who we traded a low lottery pick for). The team flirted with a marginal and shameful definition of success during the O’Brien era (typified by OB’s “we did play for a championship, the Eastern Conference Championship” quote), but it was with a team built out of hope, spare parts and an unearthly commitment to team defense. It was built to fall short, ultimately, and should rightfully have been dismantled ENTIRELY.

But instead, Ainge came in, traded Antoine for a headache, and we suffer to this moment, finding embarrassing joy in a meaningless regular season defeat over a declining Spurs team that has won three NBA championships over a period of time where the Celtics have won exactly three playoff series. Yeah. Exactly. Pop a fucking cork.

Which brings me to the point of this whole thing. Why the fuck are the Celtics winning games? We have within our grasp the one single opportunity to turn the franchise around and bring some purpose to the suffering the fans have endured for lo these endless seasons. Yet, suddenly we’re playing like the 38 win team we’re destined to be, beating crappy lotto teams and keeping it close against superior squads. And yes, taking down the Spurs on a good night.

Whatever. We must tank. We have to tank. There is nothing to be gained from not tanking. Do people truly believe poor cuddly Delonte and dim witted Big Al are going to lose faith and crumble as men (and ball players) if Paul Pierce comes down with back-spasms and suddenly Allen Ray gets 32 minutes a night? Please. These guys play for a paycheck, first and foremost, and any mental trauma they may incur during this season will be well and duly offset by having a franchise center stabilizing the defense and turning this team into a real playoff threat.

You see, basketball players are not, in the real world, the loveable, fragile altruists that fans project their epic fantasies of redemption, fraternity and fairness upon. Basketball players are either talented or untalented, smart or dumb, driven or lazy. Just like you and me! It’s not magic, really. For the most part, players can play on a bad team one year and on a good team the next. It depends on the mix of talent around them, the coaching, and whether or not their skills fit the system.

Rarely, as in the case of Magic or Bird or Shaq or LeBron (kind of), one guy can come in and turn the whole thing around. A guy who won’t tolerate losing and who has the talent to make everyone around him better. If we had a guy like that, I could buy the argument that his mind and spirit might be warped by a tank job.

But we do not have one of those guys. We have a bunch of guys for whom no one will weep should they finish with the 2nd worst record in the NBA securely in their grasp. We do have a bunch of guys, however, who might actually be worth watching next year if the best player among them is named Greg Oden.

And that’s why these dipshits who run this team ought to grow a pair of balls and do everything they can to make it happen.

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