Celtics Life submission #2
The following article was written as submissions to the Boston Celtics siteCeltics Life, who are accepting open applications for a position on their writing staff. I figured I’d give it a shot. I started out writing about sports once upon a time. I’d love to get back into writing about sports. Cross your fingers for me. And, since I’ve always been a terrible headline writer, hook me up with a headline, too. Thanks for reading, cheers.
For the past six years, being a Boston Celtics fan has been pretty easy. Good coaching, good teams. The Celtics were a team of veterans who played well together and did all the cliche things: made extra passes, sacrificed scoring averages. With the exception of the stories we hear now about our point guard not getting along with the coaches or his teammates or even the general manager, Boston basketball was relevant again for the right reasons.
But I have to admit something: I’m more excited about the upcoming 2013-2014 season than I have been for any season since 2007-2008 when Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett joined Paul Pierce in green and white.
This may sound odd. Before I go further, it hurts me that Pierce left. I wish I could have watched him play his entire career in the gym on Causeway Street. It’ll be a sad homecoming when he plays in the Garden after having gotten dressed in the visitors locker room, but expect a standing ovation not just from the crowd, but in barrooms and living rooms across New England.
That being said, I’m ready for the Bradley Stevens-era to begin. I’ve long thought that collegiate basketball is a more authentic version of the game, a better brand of basketball. But, I do understand that there’s something special about watching the very best at anything whether it’s a point guard conducting an offense or a conductor leading an orchestra. Hopefully, Stevens can bring the enthusiasm and like-ability of the college game to Boston.
(Quick side note: every year, a friend and I choose a mid-major conference to follow. Our reason is simple. We want to bet on their conference tournaments. So we hunker down and follow teams whose nicknames we don’t know. In 2009-2010, I happened to follow the Horizon League, where the Butler Bulldogs reigned supreme. They came within inches of beating the Duke Blue Devils in the title game.
Their coach, Brad Stevens, impressed me. Young, calm, and composed, their head coach brought them back to the title game for a second time the next year. Even as I went on to follow other mid-major conferences, I kept an eye on Bradley and the Bulldogs. As a long time college sports atheist, I now had a rooting interest.)
And now we, Celtics fans, have a reason to be excited for the future, not this year or even next year, but going forward. We’ve come to expect instantaneous turnaround as sports fans. We can’t expect that here. We can, though, have high expectations. I’m thrilled by the hiring of Stevens.
There are two other reasons why I’m anticipating this season more than any other recent seasons. First, we knew what to expect the last few seasons. We had an aging team that couldn’t really compete with Miami or Indiana or Chicago or even the Knicks. We could maybe win a series, or at least scare another teams locker room. We got through the regular season on veteran panache, the postseason on reputation. But, realistically, we knew what we had. We were a second-round ceiling team which is like being ranked third in your graduating class: you’ll earn respect, but you still won’t be speaking at graduation. There are a lot of us who loved that core of players, that coach. However, loyalties and love can only take a fan so far. Eventually, we want the microphone, too.
Secondly, there’s something special about watching a young team grow, bond and learn success. We have a good example of that right across town on Lansdowne Street. A lot depends on Rajon Rondo, who’ll need to quell his perpetual petulance and take over as a leader. I know he has the skills as a player, and I’m optimistic he has the intangibles as a leader. As a fan, I hope this team can gel in a way that’ll lead to eventual success under their young coach.
As Celtic fans know well, college success doesn’t always equate to pro success. But if we have a group of players who buy into the system, embrace the squad for what it is and it’s actual, unalloyed potential, we’ll be just fine. If we have a front office and a fan base that shows patience and an unadulterated loyalty and let this Brad Stevens hire evolve, there could be some exciting times on the horizon.
- Rick Pitino thinks Brad Stevens is a perfect fit for the Boston Celtics (probasketballtalk.nbcsports.com)
- Rajon Rondo’s More Than Important Season And How He Will Succeed (nbanationaustralia.com)
- Brad Stevens and the future of the Boston Celtics (hoopsheads.wordpress.com)