I'm about to write something that's not entirely rational. But I've had this build up inside of me for the past week now, and this feels like the right place and time to get it out.
I do not like the Boston Celtics. They've always been among one of my least favorite franchises in sports, up there with the Dallas Cowboys, Atlanta Braves, and Childhood Destroying New Jersey Devils*. The Flyers have beaten the Devils in enough playoff series since then that my hate for the Devils has gone increasingly latent. Jerry Jones's senility is slowly destroying the Cowboys' future and with each passing season Jason Garrett makes 8-8 sound more and more heroic. And the Braves have a likable enough team now that Larry Jones has retired; if only they could do something about that pesky racism problem they have.
*The only championship game I've ever seen live.....
Anyway, let's talk about the Celtics. Re-hashing the anger-inducing win of last week's heart-breaking win seem pointless but I was curious as to why I was so angry. Sure, Evan Turner hit a game-winning last second shot. That is frustrating because one game (or shot even) is not apt to move the trade value needle in either direction and he is not going to be a part of the Sixers' future. But Turner is not the first irrelevant-to-the-future player to hit a crucial shot late in a close game this season, and he probably will not be the last.
So what made this more anger inducing than most other shots?
For me, it was because of the identity of the opposition. The Boston Celtics. It's the way their fans have acted for years. It's the way their fans have thought for years. It's the way their fans acted in the LB game thread last Wednesday. It's everything.
I hate them. I shouldn't hate them. But I do.
After all, Danny Ainge is a smart general manager. And as funny as it is to watch the Brooklyn Nets falter under Billy King's "guidance", competition is more fun when all players are smart and rational. Brad Stevens became one of my favorite college basketball coaches during his time with Butler.
So, why then, do I despise the Celtics so much?
It's because the Celtics now have the rights to the protected first round draft pick Doug Collins pissed away in order to draft Arnett Moultrie in 2012. It won't matter in 2014 but if the Sixers make the playoffs in 2015 (which could easily happen), the Celtics get the Sixers' first round pick. Thanks for that, Doug.
It's their fans' belief that somehow it is cute that both the Sixers and Celtics are tanking. Like this is somehow less competitive than the Playoffs and that tanking is all in good fun. There may be more than one prize here unlike the NBA Finals, but there is a finite number of superstars in this draft and a likely greater number of teams that will be gunning for one before the end of the season. Everyone's a winner in the 2014 Draft until they aren't anymore, and the thought of Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, or Joel Embiid playing for one of the Sixers' divisional rivals scares the shit out of me.
It's the omnipresence of Dan Shaughnessy, World's Worst Sports Columnist, in Boston sports.
It's the sense that the Boston sports team is always the underdog and sentimental favorite when their city has won the most NBA championships. I'm excluding the 2013 Boston Red Sox and the special circumstances surrounding the city of Boston in 2013, but how are the 2004 Boston Red Sox treated among one of sports' great underdog stories? Because nothing good sports related had ever happened to the city of Boston except for two Super Bowls in the past three seasons, including one EARLIER THAT SAME CALENDAR YEAR. And, oh by the way, the Patriots won another three months after the 2004 Red Sox World Series run. Championship deprived, indeed. And then the Bruins had similar sentiments as the '04 Red Sox when they went on their Stanley Cup Finals run in 2011. Somehow, the New England Revolution will pull the same trick assuming they make a championship run at some point.
It's people arguing Kevin Garnett should not have gotten whistled for an illegal screen in the closing moments of Game 2 of the 2012 Eastern Conference Semi-finals.
But most of all, it is the belief that the Celtics are somehow the epitome of "heart," "clutchness," "grit," and every other sports narrative buzzword. Even if one wants to assume these intangible qualities have an unequal distribution throughout NBA players, what evidence is there that the Celtics own these? If one believes so truly in these qualities, shouldn't they triumph over heartless, ungritty, lazy talent? Let's see, championships won since the formation of the Boston Three Party: Lakers 2, Heat 2, Mavericks 1, Celtics 1. The Celtics made the playoffs in each of these seasons. Kobe and LeBron won two championships apiece to the Celtics' one. Something something Celtics clutch something something. And if one is like me and does not assume a player like Paul Pierce inherently has more grit or determination than LeBron or Dwyane Wade or Kobe or Dirk or Hollis Thompson and rather the differences between the players resides in their respective skill set and talent levels, then a large portion of the media and fan analysis of the team at the time is bullshit on top of bullshit. Yay go team. Or something.
Game thread will be up later tonight. In the meanwhile, feel free to share your feelings about the Celtics in the comments section. Hate the Knicks or the Nets more? Discuss your thoughts pre-game!