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Wrapping Up The 2010-2011 Regular Season: The Prodigal Fun

 


Before the Celtics commence to battling with the New York Knicks tomorrow, a few words about this regular season for the Celtics. A special one, absolutely, if not always for nice reasons.

If your goal is encapsulating this Celtics regular season, you’re hard pressed not to center the discussion on the trade that sent Kendrick Perkins to Oklahoma. This season was about the Perkins trade. With a second-round exit, this season is still about the Perkins trade. With a trip to the Conference Finals and a quick exit, it’s still probably about the Perkins trade. It’s possible, even, that losing to the Lakers in the Finals again would make this year even MORE about the Perkins trade than it is now, just as last year’s Finals remain mostly about the Perkins injury among Celtics fans.

So the trade is the symbol of this season, and only a championship or a profound injury to one of the remaining Celtics (find some wood to knock and come back) could supersede it. Sure, 2010-2011 will also be secondarily the year of Ray Allen’s three-point coronation and the year Shaq played for the Celtics, but those both stand pretty dim next to Perkins crying in the locker room, an image that lingers in all our brains even though we never actually saw it.

The prominence of the trade in our collective memory chambers is pretty easy to explain: it was super sad. This fact, like all facts, is an unappreciated reason why it shouldn’t have happened. The one aspect of the Perkins trade that should have torpedoed it (other than financial and basketball) was that it robbed Boston of the NBA’s funnest team.

Earlier this season my friend Garrett emailed me to tell me I “lucked out being a native fan of the Celtics.” Absolutely goddamn right I did. There’s nothing forced or unnatural about rooting for the Celtics, because the players make their personalities freely available, and when things are good, the only thing you want to do is hear those players talk about playing together. There’s a reason why ESPN chose to follow the Celtics all season, and I would tell you what it is but I’d just be repeating that last sentence.

To impose the Perkins trade on that team was irreparably devastating to its fun quotient. Not only was Perkins an unrecognized contributor to the fun (he was a great interview and, we now know for sure, deliberately gets technicals to motivate himself and provide the game with a storyline), his departure made playing NBA basketball less fun for everyone else. These players, more so than the average NBA player, were motivated to perform by how much they enjoyed one another’s company. That joyful camaraderie constituted the entire difference between the guy Paul Pierce was before the summer of 2007 and the guy he was after. Today, he’s a little closer to Spring 2007 Pierce than he has been in four seasons, just as we’re seeing a little more of the Spring 2007 Rondo we thought had disappeared forever.

When the Perkins trade first happened, there was a lot of solemn shrugging among NBA pundits accompanied by the words “This is just a reminder that the NBA is a business.” While business-reminders are, of course, consistent downers in basketball (ex: last summer), I don’t really see the Perkins trade that way. Ditching a helpful player for a less helpful one while saving your operation zero dollars is not, you know, businesslike. KEEPING Perkins for the rest of the season would arguably have been a better reminder that the NBA is a business, because businesspeople tend to retain strong employees for the length of their favorable contracts.

No, the only thing that the Perkins trade was a reminder of was that Kendrick Perkins wasn’t on the Celtics any more. And that’s all it needed to be to ruin the year. SORRY BUT IT’S TRUE.

That’s the burden shouldered by these playoffs. They need to be involving enough to make us forget about the personnel changes of the regular season. The story elements are certainly in place for the Celtics wipe all of our minds clean: if they get through the anticipated playoff docket of Knicks, Heat, Bulls, and the Western Conference champion, we’re all going to have a lot of trouble recalling this thing we’re trying to forget. For example, what if that Western Champ is the Thunder? Pretty sure fans could forgive Danny Ainge if the Celtics beat the Thunder with pieces the Thunder gave them.

That’s what we need from the next two months: positive theatrics to combine with the negative ones from earlier this year and effectively zero them out. Math, son!

  • Chris O

    haha that Halloween pic is one of my favorite ( up there with Nate sticking a cookie into Shaq's mouth while he is sleeping on the team bus). I have both on my facebook. I love that the team (pre perk trade even more so) was/is SOOOO CLOSE.

  • WTF

    Granger is killing the Pacers offense. Pass the ball you idiot.

    • Mike

      For real. And watch that game and then tell me if the bulls are good instead of lucky. They are just plain lucky. No way they should have won that game.

  • I_Love_Green

    Rose shot somewhere around 50 free throws that game.

    • Mike

      I think rose shot 21 and indiana as a team 19… Orlando can def beat them but if stern keeps pushing them like this….

  • talesofJP

    Bulls – Pacers was a game the Pacers gave away, with a little help from the refs. Rose had almost 20 free throws, thats insane. Reminds me of Wade and the Refs vs. the Mavs in the finals a few years back

    • Chris O

      Very true, in that series Wade going to the line on fouls and non-fouls alike won Miami the series

  • Batman

    Also the refs do a much better job then given credit for. there is just this automatic assumption that NBA refs suck, which isn't true

    • Mike

      Dude are you serious? I know refereeing a game is hard but just watch a game and see how one little deliberate call or two can change a game and tip it to the team they want to win. there's a reason people say the nba is fixed. I'm not saying it actually is fixed, all I'm saying is that the nba refs are horrible, and this is coming from a guy that used to watch soccer, so that's saying something.

      • Batman

        Right but the only reason your saying that is because you don't like the teams that got the calls! if the celtics got those calls, would you say it was bad? I'm not trying to point people out here but theres a reason travels and can get away in the NBA because the games r so fast and yet they still get most of the calls. The only reason NBA refs have such a bad rep is because individual incidents occurred that were blown up bigger than they were, like the Tim D scandal, where all the stuff he said about refs rigging series were lies because he wanted to take the league down with him, are forever imprinted upon the publics mind.

        • Mike

          I understand what you're trying to say, but lets be honest those 50-50 calls the Celtics never get them against the hyped teams. What I was pointing out was merely the fact that a player like rose riding on the coatails of the hype gets ALL the calls and a player like, lets say, ridnour will get maybe 1 out of 200. If its a foul, a travel, whatever just call the damn thing but don't start dishing out the star treatment. I see Paul Pierce getting fouled just like rose and why doesn't he get the calls?

          I just read that miami and chicago shot 71 FTs to 31 from indiana and phily combined or something like that. You can't just say that one team was playing aggressive and the other wasn't.

          • Batman

            you're right, superstars and superstar teams do get a lot of calls
            But you are wrong, the Celtics get A LOT of calls.
            lets not play the victim

  • stephen

    What league are you actually watching. Are you stupid or what. The Celtics get a lot of calls. If you think for a second that David Stern doesn't have the NBA officials in his hip pocket and doesn't influence the outcome of games based on what teams he wants in the finals in order to get what he thinks will get thr highest TV ratings? Are you kidding me !!! You must be naive, stupid or both. Your suppose to be a C's fan —the most informed in the NBA. Get real man.

    • Batman

      you honestly think Stern has the officials in his hip pocket? Thats the biggest bullshit that everyone keeps repeating

  • stephen

    It's not bullshit, and yes Stern influences the outcome of games. He's a businessman, pure and simple.He doesn't give a rat's ass about the integrity of the game. He cares about ratings, period. Stern wants the Heat vs the Lakers in the finals. Lebron vs.Kobe. Why, because he feels that matchup will bring in the highest TV ratings. Anything that happens along the way which puts that matchup in jepordy means Stern begins to impose his will in order to get what he wants. If you doubt this then simply observe how the free-throw disparity begins to widen more and more when either the Heat or the Lakers begin to get in to trouble. If I am wrong I'll be the first to eat my words. Remember,just watch and observe.

    • Mike

      Yes I agree. Right now he's gonna push the bulls like crazy even though they are an overhyped team that lives on derrick ''overrrated'' rose's points.
      I still have fresh memmories from the laker series where they had Ray Allen sit down in the first game, Garnett in the second game, those 47 Fts in game 7 etc etc…

  • stephen

    Exactly—21 free throws for Rose yesterday. It didn't take long to see Stern's influence did it. He faces a ratings nightmare if the Bulls get knocked out too early. Same thing if the Lakers get knocked out too early. In last years game 7, Stern saw the C's starting to run out of gas early in the 4th quarter,recognized his opportunity and seized it. He wanted to set the Lakers up for a possible 3 peat,he knew were Lebron was going to wind up before everybody else did, therefore setting up his Lebron vs.Kobe dream matchup. So yes, there is some fixing going on in the NBA. I believe that to deny this is to deny reality.

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