Thursday, February 24, 2011

It's almost embarrassing how sad I am right now.... Almost.

This is a team that's supposed to win right now, this year. This is a team with a window- a window rapidly closing, centered around three veterans giving it their all to win before they walk away. As of 2:30 PM today, this was a team that, with their starting 5 intact, had never lost a playoff series. It was a team that prided themselves on chemistry, commitment and fluidity- and a little thing called camaraderie, which is sorely lacking on the majority of other teams in the NBA. It was a team that almost seemed to be exempt from the superficiality of the rest of the league. While other teams grapple with selfish play, the egos of superstars, and a lack of commitment to defense, those were all things that the Celtics could depend on, and proudly stood for. Selfish play? The Celtics mess themselves up over passing, trying to play too unselfishly. Egos of superstars? The three stars at the core have all made tremendous sacrifices in their personal games to cater to the needs of this team. And a lack of commitment to defense? It sometimes looks like the Celtics have more fun protecting their basket than they do on offense. 

All morning and afternoon long, I tracked what was going on, hoping that the Celtics could get lucky and snag someone really great for a backup three. I read how they might be able to pull Anthony Parker and I read that Nate was potentially going to be traded to a variety of places, from Cleveland all the way to Golden State. And finally, I read two things that stuck with me the most. I read that Perk rejected the idea that he would sit out the rest of this road trip, explaining, "I'm a Celtic." It made me smile, because it was classic Perk. And I read that Danny Ainge didn't think there would be any last minute moves, and that no big transactions were going to take place. At that moment, I felt good. It made me feel like, with all the other trades going on with other teams, I had gotten caught up in the hype of the trade deadline. I felt like the Celtics didn't need to make a rash move like so many other teams were doing, because they had the things that every team needs: consistency and a strong core. And I felt like they could wait it out and see who ended up getting bought out, and then finding a back up three. 

And then, just around 3:00 PM, I read that Perk had been traded. It literally felt like the floor had been pulled out from under me. I immediately thought it was a mistake, or some kind of rumor that had run rampant- especially when I saw that he had been traded for Nenad Kristic and Jeff Green. Then, as it became more and more clear that it wasn't a mistake and that it had actually happened, I felt deeply saddened. That sentiment has stuck with me, hours later. Kendrick Perkins is by no means a perfect basketball player, but he will always be an amazing Celtic. He is the embodiment of all the things this club is supposed to stand for: a hard working, tough, intense player despised by everybody not on his team. Like KG, Perk was bathed in sweat 3 minutes in to the game. He was among the hardest working guy on the floor, and for every shortcoming in his game- most glaringly a lack of offense- he worked hard in every possible way to compensate for it. For the Celtics, he provided the luxury of single coverage on Dwight Howard and other top notch big men. He provoked fear in the paint and he fought hard on the boards. He busted his butt for 8 months to come back early from major knee surgery, and floored me with his play. He was in amazing shape and moved faster and more fluidly than I would have ever expected. Yes, the Celtics won games and succeeded while he was on the sideline earlier this season, but his return undeniably brought a rhythm to the starting five which had been missing before. That rhythm and that familiarity is gone now, and it's so sad to think that it will never come back. I know that the NBA is a business and that at the end of the day, this was a business move... But I can't help but be sad... And mad. And I can't help but think about what kind of effect this will have on the team. This is THE starting five. This is Perk, Rondo's close friend, relied on by our big 3. 

At the end of the day, I know that the Celtics can find a way to win without Perk... Just like they found a way to win without James Posey. But let's face it- since Posey left after the '08 championship, they've never stopped looking for someone to replace him. They've been successful, and they almost won another championship, but they've been on a continual search for the guy that can bring them everything Posey did. They never found him... And they will certainly never find someone to replace Perk. I miss his scowl already. This is the first time in YEARS that I can remember NOT wanting to watch a Celtics game. 

1 comment:

  1. really great read. wonderfully written. i'll miss the big guy myself.