Monday, May 12, 2008


(In this photo Gloria James, LeBron's mother, is being held back by Kevin Garnett, as she tries to chastise Paul Pierce for fouling her son hard on the previous play. Everything about this photo is funny)

I really do not like the Boston Celtics. Their stellar regular season play aroused some disingenuous sense of pure appreciation in me, but once the playoffs arrived I found it easy to despise them. Much of this derives from their attitude, but some of it from certain political emanations I find they readily produce.

To begin with the easy targets, I despise Paul Pierce and Sam Cassell. Neither, in my opinion, are hall of fame players, but now that they have found themselves amidst a championship caliber team they carry themselves with a combination of indignance and entitlement that suggests an unappealing comparison to figures such as Hillary Clinton. With every playoff loss this is confirmed all the more. They seemed shocked not that they lost, but that someone would have the audacity to beat them. Sam Cassell's demeanor as he returned to the bench in the mid-to-late fourth this evening speaks volumes. (You can include James Posey's unearned arrogance in this section of my criticisms)

To their credit they still do move the ball better than Cleveland and play better defense than Cleveland, as long as one ignores the final score (which, to the credit of everyone else in the world, is tough to ignore). But actually, They moved the ball well on offense but were outdone by a flimsy combination of hustle and luck that aided the Cavs. So much of the Cavs production on the offensive end seemed to materialize out of slightly forced slashing and unexpected passing opportunities. How many times did a Cavalier leave his feet to shoot, realize he had made a huge mistake and by the grace of God find an open man in the split second before he committed a travel by returning to the floor? I felt like the entirety of their late third/early fourth point production was based off of this dubious game plan. Either way, some combination of Sam Cassell's selfish chucking and no offensive rebounding whatsoever allowed the Cavs to win by 11. How the hell did the Cavs win by 11? Somewhere in the third I got the impression this was going to actually be a reasonably well executed game, or at least the best played by each team this series. A veritable 40 days and 40 nights of offensive wandering through the deserts of Sinai by both teams somewhere in the fourth robbed all NBA fans of that possibility.

Before I return to my original thesis, which is how much I hate the Boston Celtics, I want to briefly discuss how much I hate Wally Szczerbiak. Rather than burden myself with the challenge of coming up with new and inventive ways of disparaging that leech, I am going to defer to Britt Robson, who in a recent interview with Slam magazine put it beautifully:

"Wally is a jerk. [inaudible] I know that to be true. I shouldn’t…My experience with Wally Sczerbiak is he pretends to answer questions, but doesn’t really answer questions and if you try to make him answer questions, he gets very perturbed very fast and that facade flies away. On the basis of that I call Wally a jerk and on the basis of a lot of people disliking him for whatever reason."

Thank you, Mr. Robson, for confirming what I for some time have known in my heart of hearts to be true.

And lastly, I wish to return to Boston, and my distaste for their present manifestation. I use the word present, because looking back I am not sure there is another NBA figure I appreciate more than Red Auerbach. That being said, there is a fascistic quality to the current version of the Celtics that disturbs me deeply. I realized this somewhere in between my 80th and 90th viewing of this commercial:

The use of the Carmina Burana is just the beginning. To be honest, I love Kevin Garnett, and he is one of my favorite players in the league to watch, no matter what colors he dons. But the use Latin and middle German poetry set to highly Wagnerian music, combined with the heavy sense of guilt that Garnett has allowed history to place on his shoulders reminds me more of the legal thought of Carl Schmitt than of the noble legacy left by Bill Russell. If they go on to win the title, something about it will seem undeniably dark and corrupted. (I refrain from calling the Celtics' pursuit of the title pure evil because I am unwilling to completely allow my disdain for the rest of the Celtics' roster to overhwhelm my admiration for Kevin Garnett, even in his bridaled, post T-Wolf years).


strumac said...

In the fictional identities which televisual reality gives players, Kevin Garnett has been framed as 'Mr. hardworking/intense/team player etc. etc.'... at least this year. Who knows what he's actually like? The context of an excellent team and his chest-pounding theatrics makes him *look* intense. But his playoff record isn't very good (look it up.. lots of fourth-quarter fades.. or perhaps I'm wrong)
But I want to mention something else: the TNT slow-mo of him yelling at the screaming Cleveland fans sure looked like he said "f**cking f***ots.' There goes any respect I've ever had for him: that's what an insecure teenager says. Pathetic that someone with his money and privilege speaks like that.
What's the Carl Schmitt reference to?

Graydon said...

Schmitt was a Nazi legal theorist who pioneered a particularly heavy-handed theory of executive power. It is by no means a direct comparison, but something about the way Garnett "holds everything together" reminds me of the arguments people use for an overly centralized executive branch. Oswald Spengler may have been better if I was looking for a subtle reference to fascism.

As far as Garnett's "F**cking F***ots" comment goes, I didn't see the clip, but I believe it. Homophobia runs rampant in the NBA, although I don't know if I have anything meaningful to say about that other than I really wish it didn't.

I will say that Garnett started to slip in my mind during the whole Zaza Pachulia scuffle, and during the absurd Hawks game 7 celebrating. It was like if I was playing a fifth-grader 1-on-1 and he sneaks up on me and makes it a game, and then when I win I pound my chest and scream. Absurd.