Saturday, December 27, 2008

Turnaround Schmurnaround

The Boston Celtics, possibly the most storied franchise in all of professional sports, won the 2007-2008 NBA championship. That piece of information was for those who are completely unaware of professional athletics. There was a stretch, decades ago, in which the Celts were an incredibly dominant force in pro basketball, and them not winning the championship during that period of time would have been more of a news story than them claiming the league championship. For many years, the Celtics fell into a state of disarray and the team was pretty absolutely terrible. Not quite as bad as the 2008 Detroit Lions, but close. The year before they won the championship in 2008, the Celtics went a total of 24-58. For exactly every two games they lost, they won one. During their championship season, their record concluded a stunning 66-16. That's quite an impressive feat, and it appears as though the Celtics may be headed in this direction for the current season. Because of this monumental swing, sports writers and television announcers gushed over the amazing "turnaround" of the Boston Celtics, and today I was really set off when ESPN: The Magazine declared 2008 as the year of the turnaround and cited the Boston Celtics as a prime example. Makes sense, right? They were terrible in 2006-2007, but they were world-beaters in 2007-2008. Of all of the sports stories and commentaries I've heard in the past year, this is the most disingenuous, false, and unrepresentative statement of all.

I'm happy for the current generation of Celtics fans and it is hard to argue that they don't have a great basketball team. Having said that, declaring the Celtics as a turnaround team is complete and utter bullcrapolla. Why do I say that? Between their abysmal season and fantastic seasons, the Celtics acquired a former league MVP in Kevin Garnett, one of the best pure shooters in recent NBA history in Ray Allen, and managed to keep their all-star Paul Pierce. Kevin Garnett remains one of the most dominant and versatile big men in the league and Ray Allen, while losing his stroke more often now than in the past, can be deadly when he turns his game on. Doc Rivers, derided as a terrible coach during the previous season, was highly-regarded for his excellent coaching ability during their championship year. Are you kidding me? You could put a dog in a hat and suit in charge of this team and they would probably perform at a championship level - better than under Doc Rivers. It would be far more accurate to claim there was a reemergence of the Celtics franchise. There was no missing role player that was added to the puzzle, no draft pick that filled a critical void on the roster, no new coach who took a mostly-same team and instituted a new system - just two superstars added to a roster containing one superstar. This would be like saying that General Motors had a great turnaround year in 2009 because they traded the boring Chevrolet Aveo for the Honda Civic and the Buick Lacrosse for the Toyota Camry. On top of these trades, Toyota threw in their existing labor contracts as a swap with GM and offered to take some of the additional capacity off of GM's hands. This is exactly what the STUPID Minnesota Timberwolves did when they traded Kevin Garnett for, get this, "Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes, Theo Ratliff, Gerald Green, Sebastian Telfair, Boston's 2009 first-round draft pick (top three protected), the return of Minnesota's conditional first-round draft pick previously obtained in the 2006 Ricky Davis-Wally Szczerbiak trade and cash considerations." Hey, we'll give you all of our crap plus one token good thing (but not the best of those good things - we'll keep that if it's a top 3 draft pick), and we'll take that one really good thing that you have.

Truthfully, I'm not feeling any sour grapes because the Celtics beat the Pistons during the Eastern Conference finals. I'm just incredibly annoyed that anyone thinks that the Celtics are a turnaround "Team." Let's trade the Detroit Lions for the New England Patriots and wait for everyone to herald the great team improvement in 2009.

1 comment:

Dan A. said...

"We're just cheering for laundry!"

(though I cheer for Illitch specifically a lot)