Monday, January 7, 2008

The Fox Climbs on the Bandwagon

I thought it would be easy. Last year, when the Celtics sold the farm for Jesus Shuttlesworth and KG, just about everybody in this city climbed back on the bandwagon. Let’s face it - Boston (and the Boston sports media) has been decidedly Pats/Sox for the last 10 years – and at the time, it seemed ridiculous to me that anyone could move from complete apathy to sincere fandom. My goal was to stay focused on the reality of the situation and not get too wrapped up in the early success.

With that said, it’s time to throw in the towel as the Debbie Downer of Shamrock Headband. In my recent posts and on my radio show, I rambled about who the Celtics had “yet to face,” but after road wins in Detroit, Utah, and Los Angeles (in my opinion, three of the 10 best teams in the NBA) – I can no longer use that argument. This team is 29-3, riding its superstars at the appropriate times, getting positive contributions from the bench, and finding ways to win. Who cares if they don’t have a great starting center (or even a serviceable one)? As long as Garnett (gasp! a power forward!) has the reigns, this team will challenge for the title.

When it comes to winning championships in the NBA, one can’t be categorical. The key to success is simple: a lethal combination of talent with a killer instinct, playing at the height of their capabilities. This holds true for all great teams: listen to Walton wax about the ’77 Blazers – look at the greatness and depth of the ’83 Sixers – check out what Oscar Robertson added to the ’71 Bucks, or what Magic added to the ’80 Lakers – the Bad Boy Pistons were like a wrecking crew – Shaq and Kobe oozed greatness. Categories have nothing to do with it.

If you want to categorize, check out these great power forwards who have played for title teams since 1980 - does Hall of Famer Kevin McHale ring a bell? Hall of Famer Bob McAdoo is lauded in Magic Johnson’s autobiography as a difference-maker on the ’85 Lakers. Dennis Rodman was an All-Star for the ’90 Pistons and the league’s best statistical rebounder during his days in Chicago. Tim Duncan played the 4 for the 1999 and 2003 Spurs and was Finals MVP both times. Rasheed Wallace, a 3-time All-Star, was a huge trade deadline acquisition of the ’04 Pistons. The great Bobby Jones was a 5-time All-Star and defensive stalwart for the ’83 Sixers.

Now let’s talk great centers without a title: Patrick Ewing. Bob Lanier. Nate Thurmond. Hall of Famers – each of them. You can argue that David Robinson wouldn’t have won without Duncan. Moses couldn’t do it with the Rockets, so he teamed up with Dr. J in Philly. Kareem had three NBA MVP years where he didn’t win titles – he needed The Big O and Magic for each of his six championship rings. Likewise – Shaq needed Kobe and Wade.

Tim’s argument for power forward futility only really extends to Barkley and Malone – and they were both denied by the Jordan-era Bulls. Kemp made the Finals on a one-shot Sonics team and Webber never sniffed the championship round. None of these guys, Hall-of-Famers or otherwise, had the horses around them to bust up the truly great Chicago and L.A. squads. In 2008 - it appears the KG not only has the horses, but he could do it against what seem to be flawed teams in Detroit, Phoenix, and San Antonio.

What am I saying? One: I'm on the wagon. Two: a dominant power forward (Kevin Garnett) can win a title. My only concern happens to be his teammate, Paul Pierce. I've never been comfortable with Pierce. He seems like a nice guy, sure, but his penchant for being a glory hog has always bothered me and continues to bother me this year. Like Spiderman's Uncle Ben says, "with great power comes great responsibility," and I think Pierce has too much of a bump on himself to handle team leadership with steady maturity - observe his track record and watch him dance around like it's Hammertime after the Detroit win. That's why KG has to step up as the biggest of the big dogs.

7 comments:

The Brick said...

There's no room left on the wagon. We all know what will happen now, it is all downhill from here.

Anonymous said...

How are Phoenix, Detroit, and San Antonio flawed?

The Fox said...

San Antonio - age, injuries
Phoenix - depth, defense
Detroit - tendency to implode

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