Tuesday, May 22, 2007
The First Day of the Rest of Your Life
Indeed, it's all come down to this. We begin this blog a few short hours from the moment we've waited months for, when the next fifteen years of basketball's greatest franchise will quite possibly unfold over a few short minutes of prime-time television. We speak, of course, of the 2007 NBA Draft Lottery, a matter to which we'll return shortly. But first, the obligatory introduction.
This blog is intended to represent Celtics fandom as it once was and still can be. The last twenty years of Celtics basketball have been defined by abject misfortune, poor management, increasingly shoddy media coverage and dwindling fan appreciation. This blog provides a voice in the wilderness toward righting at least three of those wrongs, possibly four if you're a superstitious type. Everyone whose voice will be heard in this space can remember the days when the Celtics owned this town, a situation which, tonight willing, might return, though it will take no small amount of effort. It is this effort to which we hereby fully commit ourselves.
This blog stands as a challenge to the three glaring problems of Boston professional basketball: the resoundingly inept Celtics management, the perniciously indifferent Boston media, and the startlingly lackadaisical Boston sports fan. It is time for us to make them care. The "new" Celtics ownership vacillates between the painfully incompetent and the criminally negligent. The recent extension of Doc Rivers either indicates that a you-scratch-our-back-we'll-scratch-yours tanking deal was in place, or that ownership is so bungling that they've given Ainge deity-like omnipotence coupled with zero accountability. At least the former possibility suggests forethought, which unfortunately makes me strongly suspect the latter. While Ainge has drafted well, his fantasy-basketball-style trading habits and idiotic loyalty to Doc have long made any such compliments hollow. It's time for things to change.
As for the media, the Boston Globe trots out the work(wo)manlike Shira Springer, competent but uninspired, and the walking journalistic atrocity known as Peter May, whose "reporting" frequently suggest he hasn't watched an NBA game in several years. Don't believe me? Check out one of his most recent works, an urgent blow-by-blow of the 1997 Lottery. Seeing as Peter May neither writes for a San Antonio newspaper nor inhabits a time warp where he lives ten years in the past, I think it's safe to say this jerkoff has been "scooped" on this one. All the while two of the greatest basketball writers of eras past--Jackie MacMullan and the legendarily-lazy-in-his-old-age Bob Ryan--appear resigned to picking up CHB's Sox-related table-scraps and occasionally churning out high school human-interest stories. Fire Peter May! Set MacMullan free! These are refrains you will hear often in this space. The Herald, before you even ask, sucks. The only writer currently penning passionate and insightful material on the C's is the redoubtable Bill Simmons, but even he is constrained by his auspices as a "national" journalist. It's time we held the Boston media's feet to the fire.
As for the fans: what has happened to Boston basketball? Is Boston truly only capable of caring about two sports teams? I refuse to believe this is the case. Are Boston fans, who pride themselves on their knowledge and loyalty, far more fairweather than they'd like to admit? A disturbing prospect. An even more disturbing prospect: Are the city's deep-seeded racial hang-ups standing in the way of an embracing a predominantly African-American team that plays in a predominantly African-American league? After all, Paul Pierce (this site's spiritual touchstone) is inarguably one of the most consistently brilliant Boston athletes of his generation, yet is snubbed in the hearts of Boston sports fans, who prefer the melanin-deficient "grit" of certain "dirt dogs." Or--and this would be perhaps the most obvious answer--does fan disinterest solely stem from the combined forces of management and media incompetence? This is the most appealing prospect, though all of the above questions must and will be considered time and again in this space.
This blog does not attempt to replace or supercede any of the fine existing Celtics blogs, such as celticsblog or iheartceltics, to which we may indeed link frequently. This blog instead hopes to fashion itself from such wonderfully passionate and intelligent influences as freedarko.com (the Ulysses of sports blogs), firejoemorgan.com (the mediamatters of sports blogs), while incorporating some good ol' fashioned Simmons humor and cultural referents. In short, we wish to prove that the literate, positive, and thoroughly bleeding-heart Celtics fan still exists and has a voice, both in Boston and in the larger world. Now, let's get to the basketball.
As noted before, tonight is the NBA Lottery, which means that twenty-four hours from now this blog will either be filled with joyous hosannas to the basketball gods or elegies of shattered dreams and directionless scorn. There will be no in-between. Well, I suppose the in-between will be that we'll be too hungover from either celebrating or sorrow-drowning to post anything at all, though we'll try to avoid that (entirely possible) situation.
As most of the basketball-loving (or even vaguely-basketball-aware) world is aware, tonight will arguably have two winners and eleven losers. This might prove to be an overly-dramatic and even flatly inaccurate assessment down the line, but right now it sure as hell feels that way. The Celtics have a roughly 40% chance of landing one of the top-two picks (second best likelihood behind the Memphis Grizzlies), which would guarantee them the opportunity to choose one of the two "franchises" available: Greg Oden or Kevin Durant.
If we pick first we'll pick Oden. End of story.
If we pick second, well... back during the college season there was some flapping going on about taking Durant number 1. Simmons himself even endorsed this for a period, claiming that while Oden had a chance to be one of history's top centers, Durant had the chance to be one of history's top players. Honestly though, as of late everyone's seemed to back off this. Chad Ford's recent write-up (subscription required) of Oden's workout gives the impression that any team would be insane not to draft him first. Even the Bucks have come out and said they'd take Oden (fuck you, Bogut). Since Oden almost certainly will be gone by number two, if we pick second we'll pick Durant.
If we pick third, well, I'll fucking shoot myself. Seriously though, this is a huge question. Do you take Brandan Wright, a terrific prospect who's probably a year or two away? Do you take Al Horford, who's slightly more NBA-ready than Wright but lacks his upside? You certainly can't take Corey Brewer--who may well be the third-best player in this draft--unless you're ready to just throw in the towel on Gerald. I'm not sold on Rondo as the future but three is too high to take Mike Conley. I think if you drop out of the top two you seriously start looking at trading the pick, maybe packaging it with anyone and anything but Pierce and Big Al and trying to land a Garnett or a Jermaine O'Neal for 70 cents on the dollar. Ainge claims he'll probably hold on to the pick (of course he does), so if push comes to shove you pick Wright and hope he develops quicker than expected.
The prospect of picking fourth or anywhere lower depresses me too deeply to write about, and I've already made myself so nervous that I can barely keep typing. Therefore I end this post. Till next time, when everything will be different, in one way or another. Welcome to the Shamrock Headband.