|Posted by Celticsfanatic (Celtics 17) on December 9, 2009 at 8:34 PM|
A few weeks ago, our Boston Celtics were spiralling downward like a malfunctioning speeding jet. We'd hit a wall of bricks in the Phoenix Suns, a blazing-hot team that handed Boston their first defeat of the year. From there on out, things weren't looking good. Boston looked depleted and impoverished, stripped of their wealth of confidence and reduced to having to fight from behind, instead of ahead.
Last night, on the other hand, was a continuation of their seven, now eight-game winning streak. The C's played the Milwaukee Bucks at home, where they pulled away in the fourth quarter with a Superman performance out of Rajon Rondo and sidekick contribution from Kevin Garnett to win by nine. This win came without critical bench players such as Glen Davis and Marqius Daniels, as well as swingmen Tony Allen and Bill Walker. Therefore, it was another example that the C's can beat solid teams even with injuries. So they shouldn't need any extra injections of confidence, should they? A win, along with the realization that they can win even without key members of the squad should be enough to keep them going, correct?
Well, to answer that question, let's go back to the substantial root of this run. Boston had won two in a row, including a victory in New York that highlighted a Kevin Garnett game-winning jumper, going into a Celts-Raptors game at the Garden. The win at MSG and the subsequent trumping of Philadelphia had the Celtics in good spirits heading into this match.
Fast forward to late in the game. Paul Pierce had 16 points heading into the fourth quarter. After 35 seconds had elapsed from the fourth quarter clock, Pierce was in the process of trucking his way to the basket. Teeth bared, Pierce tore through his perimeter guard and penetrated through a knot of Raptors defenders. The last one standing was Chris Bosh, a proven big man and one who is significantly larger than Pierce himself. But Pierce wouldn't be denied. He continued his annihilation of Toronto in a single play by barreling through the fortification and ramming it down the basket's throat. Proceeding Pierce's landing was the awkward tumbling of Bosh, who looked to be elbowed in the head, and kneed in the cahones. In addition, there was also some contact involving his gut.
Talk about demolition.
However, ensuing the exciting dunk was something I wasn't too pleased to see. While Celtics fans present in the Garden were jumping out of their seats and others watching at home were cheering with an overzealous tone, mainly because they were glad to see that Pierce and the C's were indeed back, Pierce mocked Bosh. He mocked him in plain site, which resulted in the fair distribution of technical fouls -- one to Pierce, and one to his, at least for the moment, indignant coach Doc Rivers.
In essence, Pierce had been slightly crouched upon landing hard. He posed in his position, muscles flexed and lips pursed, and simply stared at Bosh. Stared at a fellow basketball player, who, by the way, was on the ground in what appeared to be some serious pain. While it was temporary, there's no excusing the fact that Bosh had been struck hard. Pierce still lingered, apparently unaware (or even worse -- aware) of what he was doing. Trainers rushed out to Bosh, whose back was then turned to Pierce and his eyes were excruciatingly shut.
Whether Bosh embellished the whole moment or not so people would forget about the dunk and pay attention to the fact that Pierce had just maimed him doesn't matter. He was on the ground. Whether it was severe pain that lasted or just a shocking pierce (pun not intended) of agony also really doesn't affect what it looked like in the aftermath. If Pierce didn't think he honestly hurt him that bad, that's fine, but he should have at least granted him a few minutes to regroup with his own organization. The incessant jeers and loud approbations of Celtics fans meant for Pierce interrupted the personal time he should've been given. Given, not just by Pierce, but by everyone in the arena.
What followed the events wasn't pretty either. You saw Rasheed Wallace grunt in satisfaction and playfully pound Pierce with a chest bump. You saw KG greet Pierce with his smug (albeit the fact that most of the time, yes, I do enjoy it) no-emotion glare. And most flamboyant of all, you saw Pierce flail his arms in triumph and let out a full-bellied battle cry.
Collecting my thoughts after a moment of being dumbfounded and somewhat disgusted, I glanced over at the chat I was taking part in, hosted by a few of my friends of the Celtics blogosphere, also owners of the blog Gino's Jungle. They were of course discussing the throwdown on Bosh, so I went on to chip in myself. Despite being disgruntled with the occurences carried out by my C's, I jokingly remarked to North Station Sports' Nick Gelso "Nick, Pierce threw an elbow to the stomach and head in the process. Tommy's aggravated with the call. lol."
However, after everyone had cooled down (including myself, who even though didn't think what Pierce did after the dunk was worthy of praise, still believed the dunk itself was pretty enrapturing), I commented: "I enjoyed the dunk, but the rest was unnecessary. Still, monster throw-down."
The rest of my thoughts unraveled after the GJ crew and followers contended my thoughts. They believed that the dunk and aftermath of the slam was what the Celtics needed to finally get them going. I argued my point for a while before realizing I was reiterating the same point after a couple posts. I finally said, "I'm not complaining [too much] [about the dunk], but I just hope that's not what "swag" means to us in the long run."
Here are some of the points I really want to drill to support my perspective:
"Are you honestly telling me you encourage crap like that [Pierce's staredown] if we win by 20 points? Again, Pierce is my favorite, and that was a monster dunk. Pluck is alright, tenacity is alright. But being a punk is not what it means to be a Celtic. A respective and respected competitor is what a Celtic is."
A reasonable and structured string of opinionated points, right? Sure, you can celebrate when the time is appropriate, but when an opposing player is on the ground, it's guilelessly out of the question. It's really just proper court etiquette (sounds a little fancy but here's the ground rules without getting into anything complex: 1), have respect for your teammates and challengers; 2), don't be a loudmouth or showboater when you can't back it up; 3) focus on winning first and proving to the other team as well as the people watching that you, individually, can play, later; and 4) understand that it's not all about the winning basket or who gets 20 points, but really about who emerges victorious -- don't get discouraged) and common sense.
"Bosh was ON THE GROUND and Pierce clearly didn't need to be there. He stayed there because he felt the dunk wasn't enough, though I don't know why. He stayed there because he WASN'T confident, he felt the need to show off. Arrogance, insecurity -- not the Paul Pierce I like to see."
Again, nothing too out of the ordinary or unexpected, correct? In my mind, Pierce hovered around Bosh because he wanted to make sure that the face of the Raptors had acknowledged who had just dunked on him. If the Celtics were winning, if Pierce didn't have the mindset he had from 1995-2007, that losing, succumbed demeanor, he wouldn't have stayed there. If you add one and one, you get two. Seriously, just take off the green glasses and take a good look what happened, and you'll find yourself with the same outcome I got.
"There's a difference between having energy (unlike the Red Sox, but like the Spurs), and choosing not to be the class act you can be (unlike both teams, mostly)."
One of the boys from GJ had interjected "We ain't the Spurs - can't just play for the world to love us." Beforehand, I replied "How many championships have the Spurs won this decade" to drive home my point that teams assured enough of themselves and reservedly convinced with their ability to win are the ones still going while the rest are at a dead stop. The issue of being egotistically intrepid is not something that arises within championship squads. At least not regularly or generally. Just observing the common build of teams of that level.
"I truly don't have much of a problem with the single play, just the fact that it's apparently what the team needs to get them going."
In retrospect, I really don't have much difficulty understanding why Pierce chose to do this. I also won't hold much of a grudge against Pierce for what he did when it is addressed that he is the team leader because I have recognized how he felt after the dunk. But the main problem here is the apparent need for punk moves and arrogant actions to get the team going. I think most people have discerned that I'm none too happy with the dunk, but even more frustrated with the Celtics fans' overview of the whole fiasco. One of the writers at Gino's Jungle told me "We need stuff like that to energize the team every so often."
Do we? Or are we once again blinded by our homerism? Think about this for a second: You're suggesting that it's revitalizing as a fan to see your own players instigating verbal wars? Even physical quarrels? C'mon now.
So what do you think fellow C's fans? Has the insolence gone far beyond the lines of intolerable or will we be rewarded in the long run? Don't forget, if it continues, you're going to be seeing more and more of these episodes throughout the season. It gets less and less exciting and more and more exasperating as it goes on. Can we handle it twice? Thrice? Beyond that point?
Only time will tell. We've only seen it once... but use past experiences of those losing C's to depict future disruptions. Not so glamourous anymore, eh, you rascals?
Thanks to Gino's Jungle for allowing me to call them out in this article. Now it's their turn to make me look like a buffoon.