Celtics 2, Rumor Mill 0. Saved by the modest-yet-bloated contracts of Jason Terry and Courtney Lee. Saved from what? We can’t be certain.
First came this year’s trading deadline. For the month leading up to February 21, the Celtics were “rumored” to be trading Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, or both Pierce and Garnett about 153,289 times. Rondo was rumored in roughly 93, 105 trades. Avery Bradley was decidedly not offered by GM Danny Ainge, despite the constant swirl of names and cities. So, the Celtics “won” that situation, by not hitting the eject button, and rewarding their fans with 6 playoff games, three in Boston, this April. No, they didn’t win the series. No, they didn’t “make a run.” Was it still rewarding? For me, an admitted Celtics obsessive, it was completely rewarding, if only to see them play so well in Game 5, in Madison Square Garden, with their backs once-again against the proverbial hard surface. They lived to see another day. They even made a brief flurry at the end of Game 6 to make things respectable, and that was that. After losing Rajon Rondo midway through the season, that was about as much as anyone could have asked. Remember, Paul Pierce was essentially running point guard for the rest of the year after Rondo’s injury.
ESPN can’t get enough of the rumors. What would people do without “almost information?” They might actually focus on their own lives. They might stop clicking on things. They might stop watching SportsCenter! Can we all agree that living in the age of “almost information” is equivalent to Andy Dufresne crawling through his river of shit in Shawshank, with the major difference being we rarely come out clean on the other side. We also don’t have the luxury of Morgan Freeman narrating our own little lives.
Clearly, Doc Rivers almost became head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers. Clearly Bill Simmons was about to have his two hoops universes (Celtics and Clippers) collide head-on. Clearly, Chris Paul and Donald Sterling were interested. Clearly, Kevin Garnett lives in Malibu. Clearly, Malibu is located on the beach, a short (depending on traffic) jaunt to the Staples Center. Clearly, Paul Pierce is known to have grown up in Los Angeles. Clearly, the Lakers and Clippers are now rivals. Clearly, dominoes were in place. Clearly, that first domino was about to tip. And yet….
The KG-Pierce-Doc Era in Boston has yet to formally end. We get to wait until July 1 for some sort of decision/indecision (Pierce’s $5 million buyout deadline). The dominoes are still waiting there, gathering a hint of dust.
We live in a ridiculously oppressive information/non-information/gossip/hype-driven/fruitless chatter and debating age. I apologize for not ignoring the Doc Rivers rumors entirely. I did my best to ignore them. The anonymous sources. The he said/he said gossip. And yet, I found myself listening to an “emergency podcast,” by Bill Simmons as I drank my coffee this morning. My inner Celtics fan was being held hostage to the fear of losing the coach he got us through the lean years, and who is now thought to be in the upper echelon. Would it have been fun to watch Doc, KG and Pierce in Clippers uniforms? Sort of. More strange than fun. My Western Conference team is the Warriors, and the Clippers will be in the Warriors way.
These types of non-events create a swirl of chaos. Perhaps it has little to do with the media, and more to do with the internet in general. And I depend on the internet as much as anyone else (sometimes against my own better judgment), but the fact remains…Why bother with the rumors? I attempt to ignore them, and they find a way to spill out if you are engaged in the NBA Finals. And when they involve everything that has to do with the future of the team you love, it becomes unbearable.
Doc’s Reputation, Rondo on the Boat
Any Celtics fan who understands the reality of the situation and the fact that uncertainty is the only certainty in the present Celtics universe, should have at least a bit of understanding for Doc’s desire to leave with KG and Pierce and compete for a championship in 2014 and 2015. NBA coaching has consumed Doc’s entire existence from September through June since 2007, (September through April in 1999-2006). He’s gotten used to the satisfaction of winning. Perhaps an under-reported angle in the Doc-KG-Clippers saga, Doc has become co-dependent on KG the way that Pop is with Duncan, and Thibodeau is with Noah. Big men who save the day, give an insane amount of effort in every game, and who have been the most dependable defensive players over the last fifteen years. Would you want to coach Fab Melo through three years of missed rotations and offensive ineptitude?
It’s not exactly that the ship is sinking, but right now the best on-the-water parallel might be the boat in Life of Pi. The boat is intact. Rondo is Pi, having tied himself to the mast, weathering the brutal storm while he rehabs. I’ll say Jeff Green is the tiger, though I think Green is more tame than wild.
Why can’t every team be the Spurs? (No, I don’t actually want every team to treat the media as if they were a towering inferno of doom). Droll. Sound-bite-less. Drama-free. Cohesive. That’s what the Celtics used to be. Rewind only five years. June, 2008. They had just won their first title in this modern era. The phrase “Big Three” was being rekindled (unlike today, where it has been chewed on, strangled, beaten to death, and then resuscitated only to be over-used again). Optimism was boundless. We were lucky and we knew we were lucky.
And who knows what next year will be bring. Apparently not DeAndre Jordan and his bloated contract.
Jonah Hall writes The Darko Index because of the months of April, May and June and the immersion experience that is ten weeks (if lucky) of watching the Boston Celtics (2008-2012) propel themselves through the phalanx that makes up the NBA playoff gauntlet.