Happy St. Patrick’s Day, Irish people! Happy new Association episode, everyone else! Ray gives this episode the same rating I do in the screencap on the video below.
1:15 – I’m wondering how Donnie Wahlberg feels about the decision to have a guy literally shovel dirt on his name in the opening credits?
1:40 – Ray Allen gets a security screening before getting on the team plane. Didn’t know until this second that athletes got screened at all, let alone weird sit-down calf x-rays. Although there’s a possibility that Ray insists that he get them as solidarity with Arab-Americans who undergo racial profiling at airports.
3:02 – Ray’s golf game with Doc. I am completely confused by the thing Ray is wearing on his legs for this game. Pants, I guess you’d call them? Whatever they are, they’re somehow denim and silk at the same time. He’s wearing a white belt, but also a giant elastic band for some reason? And it looks like they also have enormous somehow vertical pockets that zip closed? A rare clothing apocalypse for Ray Allen here. I honestly can’t tell if they’re jeans, pajamas, slacks, cargo pants, warmups, or sweats.
4:30 – Paul Pierce eats a peanut butter and jelly sandwich 55 minutes before every game. Unbelievable that ESPN held onto this information for 3.2 episodes. Also pretty great that he makes Brian Doo or whoever prepare 13 sandwiches so he doesn’t feel weird about being the only guy eating one.
6:00 – This is potentially stupid, but this Ray pregame speech about how the Warriors “don’t belong on the same floor as the Celtics” kind of feeds into my impression of the team as being aware of the difference between “good” and “bad” opposition and playing them accordingly. Would they be more effective if they thought of bad teams as worthy adversaries? Would that make them try harder? The thing that makes this whole line of inquiry sort of dumb is they won the Warriors game.
6:52 – Did anyone else spend 45 minutes trying to read the name on the call Rondo rejects while he’s talking to his fiancee? If not, what gives you the impression that there’s a better use of your time? It definitely starts with a C, maybe a CR. Creen? Crisea? Anyway, the important thing is that Rondo’s iPhone background is a picture of him scoring on the Heat.
8:23 – This is where the Perk stuff begins. It’s all pretty sad. You can hear the tears trickling down Donnie Wahlberg’s face as he narrates it. But most of the actual content is soundbites about Perkins crying and Pierce digging at management that you’ve already seen in print. We do see Perk in his hotel room watching Barkley talk about the trade, but he’s pulled himself together by then.
My favorite quote from this part is when Nate says about Perkins, “I told him he’s not alone. We’re going there together.” “Wow, thanks Nate. Really excited for you pour salt in my water, wake me up from naps by jumping on me, and constantly yell in my ear in a new city now. That’s seriously what I was going to miss most about playing for Boston. Can’t even remember why I was crying a second ago.”
12:35 – Perk says he considers his teammates brothers, but that he considered his coaches fathers. Pointed tense shift from Perkins there.
17:06 – This is where the ESPN creative team tries to make Jeff Green interesting, something we all struggle with in our daily lives. Nice to see that ESPN was as unsuccessful as the rest of us. They cut up the Clippers game to make Green’s first two baskets as a Celtic seem like a ultra-climactic events, but I certainly don’t remember them feeling that way at the time.
18:32 – Avery Bradley, the only rookie left on a team that hates rookies, gets peanut butter and jelly for the team. He does this before every game, then is rewarded by not playing ever and being named the worst rookie in the NBA by David Thorpe. Bradley says that if he forgets strawberry jelly, he gets in huge trouble with KG. I’m going to guess that Bradley forgot twice, one for each of his D-League demotions.
Also, it turns out that Brian Doo actually does make the sandwiches. Wasn’t seriously speculating that before, but there he is, making them. That does not seem like a strength and conditioning coach’s responsibility.
19:53 – Ainge’s biggest concern, prior to making the Perk trade, was picking up “adequate” subs for Paul and Ray. That seems like it makes sense, except when you remember that a) Danny’s idea of an adequate sub for Ray turned out to be Sasha Pavlovic, and B) there were a handful small forwards available for essentially nothing. The Grizzlies got Shane Battier for Hasheem Thabeet. Pretty sure Boston could have had him for Robinson, Semih, and a number one. Anthony Parker wouldn’t have been that expensive, and Jamario Moon would have been a decent replacement for Marquis Daniels (Moon’s a very good defender). I do see some value to the Perkins trade, but not in these terms, and it’s hard to really respect it when Ainge justifies it that way.
What’s most obvious from Ainge’s rhetoric, here and elsewhere, is that he didn’t have that much respect for Perkins as a basketball player. He talks here about liking Perk as a person, the implication being that Ainge’s evaluation of Perk’s basketball skills was even more critical because it had to outweigh his personal feelings. He’s not going to come out and say that he thought Perkins was expendable, but he obviously thought the team was better with Shaq (he’s said so explicitly), so he wasn’t going to resign Perk and thought they could get something for him this year. And he likes Jeff Green and thinks he can help. And he doesn’t really pay attention to advanced stats. So fun to think about this again! Thanks “The Association”!
The most disappointing thing about this episode is that it drives home the fact that this show only covers the regular season. The last episode is April 15th. APRIL 15TH! This is the best non-book resource for the seemingly insignificant details of NBA basketball life that fans (this fan, anyway) go crazy for. But they can’t follow the C’s in the playoffs, I guess because then it would seem like ESPN had some rooting interest in them winning it all. Sack up, ESPN! But also thank you because I love this show.