Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Celtics Need Intimidating Nickname
I never knew the color green could be so intimidating.
These modern-day Boston Celtics scare the living hell out of me. Out of all the teams in the league, they're the most deadly serious. The Lakers are a young, affable, goofy bunch. In their own unique ways, Pau Gasol, Vladimir Radmonovic, Sasha Vujacic, Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum and even Jordan Farmar are all stupid, but likably so. You can tell they're good, unthreatening guys.
The Spurs are totally business-like and professional, but emanate class, dignity, and humility. We know they're good guys, always have been (except that damn Bowen).
The Celtics, on the other hand, seem unapproachable. If I saw a person on the street that carried the same disposition one of these Celtics displays on the court, I'd look for someone else to give me directions. Boston is like the tough antagonist team in sports movies or TV sitcoms that you're supposed to root against, that appears on screen for the first time walking in slow motion. Basketball fans know that once the buzzer sounds, the C's are cooperative gentlemen. But we know that only because we follow the sport. The casual fan, flicking channels and happening upon one of their games, isn't going to be able to decipher that.
Starting with KG, and trickling on down the line, the Celts ooze intensity. And not just in their faces, but in their play. I have never seen a more aggressive defense. Sometimes, like during the Christmas Day tilt with the Lakers, it goes from simply stalwart to spectacular. It's like their defense starts attacking the other team's offense, Boston's swarming, smothering athleticism and contesting of every shot overwhelming. It happens when the C's are making a run, they always close it out with defensive rebounds, and if they're on the road you'll hear a lot of hooting and hollering from their bench.
The Celtics get a lot of flack for hooting and hollering, but that's more annoying than intimidating. Kendrick Perkins, an excellent role player, needs to shut the hell up. Seriously. Just because you won one championship averaging six points and six rebounds on a team with Garnett, Pierce, and Ray Allen doesn't mean you're Shaquille O'neal. And Kevin, I must admonish you also: There's no need for all that nonsense. I don't play favorites.
Of course, the Celtics, who lead the league in technical fouls, wouldn't behave so brashly if they weren't so damned good and couldn't back it up. I didn't truly believe that the Lakers would pull out that close Dec. 25 game until they did. After losing in Portland Tuesday night, the C's are now 8-1 in games decided by fewer than nine points. Nothing fazes them. They're the iciest team in basketball. We knew Pierce and Allen were assassins, but have you seen KG this year? Last spring he played through the most important games of his career and was shaky in the biggest moments (that's always been the biggest knock on him), but his team achieved the ultimate success, and thus, the weight of having never won a championship has been extricated from his shoulders forever. And it seems as though the relief of this pressure has turned Garnett into a clutch player. KG don't feel nothin' no more. He's not as cool about it as Allen and Pierce; you can tell it's new to him, and he seems almost pleased with himself. But the fact remains that Boston has three players on their roster who are ready and willing to take and make big shots, and that their entire team thrives in tense situations.
The Celtics have lost three of their last four, but always seem invulnerable.
You know who these Celtics remind me of: John Thompson's Patrick Ewing-led Georgetown Hoyas. The intense physical play, trash talking, and hellacious defense, along with the reality of their (nearly) all-black squad, evokes comparisons to Hoya Paranoia (with KG simultaneously embodying both Thompson and Ewing) - specifically the '85 squad that HBO immortalized (well, right up until the part about the loss to Villanova). You mean to tell me you don't recognize some of the parallels?
I need to think of a nickname for these Celtics that reflects how terrified I am of them.