Hope Celtics Fans Rot in HEdoublehockeysticks
The Celtics and the Lakers are the bookends of NBA basketball. The league’s history is dipped in Red and the Celtic green. The league’s logo is a silhouette of Lakers legend Jerry West. The flagship franchises have combined to win half of the league’s 66 championships. They have an aggregate 52 NBA Finals appearances.
Eternal NBA rivals? Unquestionably. NBA equals? Not in the eyes of today’s superstars, who are more consumed with geography than history.
The Parishioners of the Parquet were once again reminded of the Celtics’ disadvantage relative to their Southern California archenemies last Friday, when the reigning best big man on the planet, Dwight Howard, was reeled in by the Lakers in a four-team trade. (Is it considered reeling in a big fish if the fish desperately wants out of the water, ignores its previous pledge to remain there for another season, and just jumps into the best-looking boat?)
In the dizzying deal that saw Howard follow the Shaquille O’Neal Trail from Orlando to Los Angeles, the Lakers gave up Andrew Bynum, Josh McRoberts, Christian Eyenga, a 2015 second-round pick, and a 2017 first-round pick. In return, they now have a core of Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Steve Nash, and a 26-year-old Howard. It was the type of deal that wouldn’t pass muster in your fantasy league, but it is the harsh reality of the NBA, which is now broken down into can-have-it-alls, haves, have-no-shots, and have-no-clue (New York Knicks).
It’s also the type of deal for an in-his-prime NBA megastar that the Celtics aren’t able to make, despite their tradition and presence in a sports-obsessed major metropolitan market. LeBron James, Howard, Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, Kevin Love, and Blake Griffin aren’t walking through that door.
Boston is not an NBA destination. Howard would have had just as good a chance of lifting the Larry O’Brien Trophy here as in Lakerland, but he would have rather donned his cape for Brooklyn than Boston. That’s all you need to know.
Traditionally inept and incompetent franchises such as the Nets and Clippers are regarded as more desirable “destinations” for today’s NBA superstar shopping for a new home than the sport’s all-time winningest franchise.
Players love the idea of playing for coach Doc Rivers, but they love warm weather, low taxes, glitz, glamour, models, and iconic rapper owners more than dear old Doc. Those players don’t see the Celtics in the same (spot) light as the Lakers, the Miami Heat, the Knicks, or the Dallas Mavericks.
This is more a reflection of the state of the NBA than it is the state of the Celtics, who have been a well-run, first-class organization under the leadership of Rivers, president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, and owners Wyc Grousbeck and Steve Pagliuca.