Thursday, February 08, 2007

I am sorry that I haven't posted in a few days. I've been busy preparing my apartment for the inevitable collapse of the establishment. It's only a matter of time now. After all, the Sarah Silverman Program and the Naked Trucker and T Bones have been on for long enough to have caused the impeachment of the current administration. That must be there objective, after all why else would they be on Comedy Central despite the notable handicap of not being remotely funny.

There are many things in this world which baffle me, the fact that Sarah Silverman is on the air is only one of them. The fact that Danny Ainge is still employed in his capacity as general manager of the Celtics has been at the top of the list for a long time now. As the historic losing streak continues, now there is talk of tanking the rest of the season in hopes of landing one of the top two picks in the NBA lottery this summer.

What I don't understand is that people aren't calling for Ainge to go. I have been convinced, based on a lifetime of observation, that Boston fans are maybe 1/4 as intelligent and perceptive as they believe themselves to be. But this is beyond belief. This was a playoff team when he took it over. Now it's a disaster area. It's a matter of little importance to set a franchise record for a losing streak if you're the Memphis Grizzlies or even the Milwaukee Bucks. But when you manage one of the most storied teams in any sport to a record setting level of futility, there is no excuse for that.

If Celtics fans want to watch a good team, or even want to deserve to watch a good team they have to divest themselves of some illusions. First, there is no way this team can win a championship with Paul Pierce as its best player. Pierce is a very talented scorer, but if he were going to make the players around him better he'd have done it by now. And there's no getting around the fact that there are at least 10 players that play the same type of game as Pierce, only better. Is he really in the same class as Wade, James, Anthony, Bryant and others. If Celtics fans were honest with themselves, they'd admit that Pierce is a poor man's Ray Allen, and that's nothing to write home about.

Second, Ainge has stocked the roster with young players and expiring contracts, which is great if fans want a losing team. The trouble is in the level of expectation it breeds. Fans think that one more piece like Greg Odom or Kevin Durant will turn this team into a contender. I suppose it's possible, I wouldn't be much of a person if I denied the existence of miracles, but my faith in the Celtics isn't very strong.

This miracle can only happen if the players on the team now improve as the rookie savior develops. But what if it's Durant? What position will he play? He's not a center. The team is overcrowded at forward, with Jefferson, Gomes, Pierce and Wally. Maybe with stellar guards like Rondo, Telfair and West the plan is to play nothing but forwards. Or maybe there aren't enough minutes to go around. Or maybe we've seen the ceiling for Ryan Gomes and Al Jefferson. Maybe this is as good as it gets for them. Would drafting Odom admit that Perkins is a waste of oxygen?

Maybe Odom and Durant aren't sure things, either. Maybe the Celtics draft one of them and he gets hurt, or he's a product of the lackluster college competition. Maybe this draft pick will be snakebitten like Len Bias or Reggie Lewis. There are a lot of things that can go wrong. Maybe I'm a jerk for bringing it up, but that's the king of person I am.

The Celtics don't deserve to win. As I look at the Ainge era I see three tangible achievements. First, there are the Walker trades. Danny Ainge never liked his game, and maybe he isn't hungry this year since he won the ring, but he won the ring. Second, this team has gotten worse and not better since Ainge took over. Every season they've done a little worse, except when they reacquired Walker for the playoff run two years ago. Third, the team now has a cheerleading squad. If that resume isn't impressive, I don't know what is.

Now I might be being unfair. Maybe if Pierce didn't get hurt this team would have gone on a legendary winning streak. Maybe Allen wouldn't have been hurt while endeavoring to look like a jackass. I guess you'd have to be a Red Sox fan to believe that these things were likely or even more than remotely possible. Even without the injuries this team would not be very good. Even in the East they wouldn't be a playoff contender. With a healthy Paul Pierce, they aren't as good as Toronto or New Jersey.

Maybe I'm wrong about Ainge. As I've been writing this, I've been thinking. Celtics fans deserve Ainge. Celtics fans don't deserve to watch a winner. I had always expected to come back to the team when ownership had lost enough money to sell the team and a new GM came in who knew how to build a good basketball team came to town. But now the Celtics are dead to me. And it was the fans that finished them.

Once the Celtics fans cheered Kobe and chanted MVP as he shredded the Olde Towne team, that was it. There are times when it's OK to cheer for an impressive performance by a visiting player. It is OK to have grudging respect and admiration for an opponent. It is never acceptable to chant MVP at a player who is killing your team. Once you do that you deserve Ainge and Rivers and Wyc and getting worse year in an year out.

In another note, I never thought I'd ever defend a woman beater, but I think I have to now. The other day on Around the Horn, Jackie MacMullan called on the Philies pitcher who is accused of assaulting his wife in Boston this past season to donate $5 million of the $25 million dollar extension he recently signed to a battered women's shelter. I think he should be punished to the extent the law and a jury requires and he should donate money to said charity on general principle.

I do, however, have a problem with Jackie demanding 1/5 of his money. I know the media has taken the responsibility to direct every aspect of morality, law, justice, truth and the American way away from the courts, the government and the people. But Ms. MacMullin might do well to remember that the churches and religious organizations are content to wet their beaks in a person's pocket only to the extent of 10%. I know the organizations which expect their members to tithe expect that tithe to come before Uncle gets his, but you'd think Jackie might let him off at donating 20% after taxes and not before.

No comments: