Saturday, May 22, 2010

Cheering for the Celtics?

There is currently something wrong with me. I’m completely violating all things I have ever stood for. Well really only one thing. For the last 3 years I have hated the Boston Celtics with a fiery passion. I hate the new arrogant trash talking Kevin Garnett, I hate that thug Paul Pierce, I hate Ray Allen because he seems so smug. I’ve never liked Rasheed Wallace and his weird bald spots. And Fat Toddler (Glen Davis) is another player who I’ve never been a fan of. But tonight, for game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals I want the Celtics to beat the Magic. To anyone reading this, please do not think this is me jumping on the Celtics bandwagon. That’s totally not the case. I still hate them with a fiery passion just like I mentioned previously. I still dislike all of the players I brought up. I still think Doc Rivers needs to take a sip of water to clear his throat when he talks. But I want them to win.

Please ignore that huge pause, I was just vomiting. How could this be happening to me? The Celtics are the team that has taken my favorite team and player out of the playoffs 2 out of the last 3 years. LeBron can’t seem to get past Boston. They are holding LeBron and me back from an NBA Championship. So why exactly do I feel the need to cheer for this same team?

Maybe it is Rajon Rondo. I have always been a Rondo fan. Even though he outplayed LeBron for the majority of the Eastern Conference finals and made me look a little foolish for saying LeBron was CLEARLY the best player in the league. He’s fun to watch, maybe the funnest player in the league. He’s one of those players that you wish you could like but you can’t because he rivals your favorite team or player. I honestly think that is the case for a lot of LeBron/Kobe haters. But my player is Rondo. He’s on pace to be considered the best point guard in the league by the time the playoffs are done.

Maybe it’s the Celtics past that is attracting me to them now. Had I grown up in the 1980’s, the Celtics would have been my favorite team without question. Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, DJ, the Garden. Time to go off on a quick tangent. If I had the choice to grow up in any sports decade, I would pick the 1980’s with relative ease. Why? Here are 5 reasons:
1. Bird vs. Magic- The greatest rivalry in NBA history was playing out before Mullets everywhere. 2 of the 5 greatest players ever battling for an NBA title gives me a fuzzy feeling just thinking about it. The clash of playing styles, life styles and cities is something that couldn’t even be written.
2. Introduction of MJ- Young Jordan was on the loose and just about taking the torch from Magic and Bird by the time the decade had ended. He was winning scoring title after scoring title, and forming into the greatest athlete of our time.
3. The 1985 Chicago Bears- Assuming that I would have been a Bears fan then as I am now, I would have a championship under my belt. Well actually I would have had my first one with the Celtics a few years prior because I would have been a Celtics fan if I grew up in the 80’s…. Anyone else’s head hurt? Yea, me too. They are just metaphorical championships so it doesn’t really matter. Anyways, I would have thoroughly enjoyed watching the Bears do the Super Bowl Shuffle.
4. Mike Tyson- In the 2000’s this was Kimbo Slice. Kimbo was supposed to violently demolish everyone who stood in his way, just like Iron Mike did roughly 20 years earlier. The only problem is Kimbo is not a maniacal head case like Tyson was (and still is). I’ve seen his old fights, and heard his press conferences. Much like I did with the Kimbo hype, I would have went for the Tyson hype.
5. Miracle on Ice- Many people say it was the most important sporting event in American History. With the Cold War being at its peak, I can imagine that it was. Not only was it a win for USA hockey, but it was a win for the USA. The greatest upset of all time is something that I feel needed to be seen live in order to really appreciate it. I wish I could say I saw it live.

Okay tangent over. The final reason, and the most accurate reason: I respect the hell out of the Celtics. This has nothing to do with like or dislike. This has to do with the simple fact that from all 16 teams in the playoffs this year, I haven’t seen a team want a title more than the Celtics. I’m not saying that the Lakers aren’t more talented, or that LeBron wasn’t the best player in their East Semi’s series. All I am saying is that the Celtics crave another NBA title. This could be their last hurrah. This may be the last time we see Kevin Garnett resemble his old self. It may be the last season we see Pierce and Allen in Celtic uniforms. It may be the last time we see Rasheed Wallace in playing shape. For me and the Celtics, it is a respect thing. I respect that even though they may be aging and even though they looked lousy at some points during the regular season, they are playing harder and better than anyone in the Association. They are playing basketball the way it was meant to be played. Boston is putting on a team basketball clinic in the NBA playoffs, and despite the fact that I despise them, I can’t help but enjoy watching them play and win games by playing right.

Again, don’t get this confused for me liking the Celtics. There aren’t going to be any Boston jerseys or t-shirts at my house. No applause, high fives, chest bumps or bro hugs if they win. Only a slight smirk when they are playing the game how it should be played, with intelligence, passion, aggression and the will to win.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Disbelief, Confusion, and Anger

At this point in time, I can’t choose the right word to describe my emotions. Firstly, I’m in disbelief. For the last 48 hours, I’ve known it was going to happen. There wasn’t a doubt in my mind that they were going to lose game 6. There was too much negative criticism, and media coverage to make me think otherwise. But more importantly than that, I saw how the Cavs played in the game 5 disaster which has been coined “The LeBacle”. Despite all of this, I am still in shock that this happened. This wasn’t supposed to happen. This was supposed to be LeBron and the Cavs year, but it wasn’t. When the Cavs lost to the Spurs in the 2007 Finals, I thought to myself, in a few years, LeBron will have at least 1 ring by now. He made the leap against Detroit in the Conference Finals. To my surprise, it hasn't happened.

This leads to me being confused. I’m completely confused as to how this happened. This was the series that I wanted. I wanted the Celtics in the 2nd round. They seemed old, injured, beaten down, and disinterested. The Cavs had the MVP, and a rejuvenated supporting cast that at times was a bit of a let down, but was no doubt a huge step up from when the Cavs and Celtics played in the 2nd round in 2008. LeBron single handedly pushed Boston to the final seconds of game 7 before the Celtics prevailed. So this year, with Mo Williams, Shaq, Antawn Jamison, and Anthony Parker, it was supposed to be a cake walk. What went wrong? Was it that the Celtics behind Rajon Rondo who played out of his mind this series just got hot at the right time? Was it that the supporting cast still isn’t good enough? After all, Shaq is old, Mo is erratic come playoff, and Jamison completely crapped his pants on the big stage of the playoffs. Blame definitely deserves to be placed on them. Did Mike Brown botch this series so bad that it cost Cleveland a chance to push further? It may be. It amazes me that he just couldn’t catch onto the fact that his best lineup which we only saw for a few minutes was a lineup consisting of energy guys like Andy Varejao and JJ Hickson. Or is it my biggest fear, and I regret saying this; but was it LeBron? I’m fine with it if his shot is off or if he isn’t finding open teammates like he usually does. In game 5, it was a blatant lack of effort and aggressiveness. Why didn’t he have the competitive fire that he should have? He didn’t play like Jordan, Bird, Magic or even Kobe would have played with. After this confusion, it’s anger.

Why did LeBron just concede like he did? 3-14 with 15 points in a decisive game 5 is bad enough, but he looked like he could care less that they lost. The best home team in the league lost their 2nd game of the series at home. By 32 God damn points! Then he shook off questions after the game like it was a loss in the 20th game of the season to Memphis. I hate to think this, but did he care? Or was he looking ahead to July when all of the attention will be on him once again, when he is going to be torturing his team, his city and me. Cleveland is such a desperate sports city, and he will completely destroy the Cavs organization, and the city of Cleveland all at once in one swift action. He could say it’s because he wants a better team, or because he wants more media coverage. But he can’t say he is leaving Cleveland because it is morally the right thing to do. I don’t know for sure what he is going to do, but I would bet a lot of money that he is getting out of town fast. Maybe he’ll go to Chicago to follow in the footsteps of Michael Jordan. The truth is, as of right now he is not close to Michael Jordan. Jordan wouldn’t hold a team hostage by flirting with various other teams throughout the season, and he wouldn’t have rolled over and died like LeBron did. If he goes to New York or New Jersey, it is strictly because he wants more to be a global icon than an NBA champion. You might ask how this affects me in such a profound way that I include myself with the Cavs and Cleveland. Well, I have been on the LeBron bandwagon since he was a junior in high school. He was younger than I am now when I decided that wherever he went was where I was going. A huge void was left for me after MJ retired, and LeBron filled it. My room is covered in Cavs logos, LeBron posters and the Cavs 2009-2010 schedule. I purchase the NBA league pass just so I can watch every Cavs game. I’ve been to 5 Cavs games in Cleveland since he came into the league. I have dozens of Cavs shirts. For basketball every season I’ve bought the LeBron James sneakers. He was my idol. When I played basketball I wanted to be just like him on the floor. I don’t play basketball anymore, and LeBron most likely isn’t going to in Cleveland anymore either. I could easily sit here and say with the way he lost the last two years, when he was supposed to win, that I don’t want to consider him my favorite player anymore. But I’m not gonna do that. LeBron has given me 7 years of amazing basketball and I’m grateful. I still stand behind him and say he is the best basketball player in the world, and my favorite player. I’m not going to give up on him.