Ever get the feeling that nothing’s going to change? That as bad as things are right now, they aren’t going to get any better?
At what point is one forced to dash his hopes and face a staggering reality right in the eyes? With 19 games left in the regular season, hope is hanging on by a strand of Jeff Van Gundy’s hair, but disappearing a little more with every dismal performance.
It’s a shame, because at times the Celtics show glimpses of what could have been, glimpses of what was supposed to be. When they do, my hopes get up, I get just about ready to settle into the Celtics’ revival, and — WHAM! — the half-assed mockery of a season returns.
Every time I expect the Celtics to take the next step towards regaining their once-proud status, they take a sharp dose of whoop-ass right on the chin. The other day, each Celtic got a boxing glove signed by Manny Pacquiao placed in his locker. Following a four-game winning streak and a hard-fought loss that brought reason for optimism, I thought the Celtics might might treat the Grizzlies like a sparring partner. Instead, Memphis proved that a good beatdown doesn’t need a damn glove, dismantling Boston with a flurry of jabs, uppercuts and right hooks that never stopped until the final buzzer sounded. I think the Grizz might have even bitten off an ear or two. Whether or not Memphis went Mike Tyson on Boston, it was the Celtics who bit off more than they could chew against a hungry, talented, and athletic team.
Staying with the boxing theme, the Celtics have turned into Rocky in “Rocky III.” They’re dressing nice, taking it easy, and behaving with class. They’ve forgotten that it was the edge, not the talent, that won them a title in the first place. Sure, the 2008 Celtics had all kinds of ability. But it was the unwillingness to surrender anything easy that made that team so good.
Now, the Celtics are giving every team just about whatever it wants. The NBA has turned into Clubber Lang, a big, bad, cocky, hungry son of a bitch that has kicked the shit out of the Boston Celtics for the last 35 games. The C’s, a viable championship contender until 35 games ago, are getting smacked around by the “wrecking ball” that is the entire Association. They aren’t hungry, they aren’t proud, and they’ve forgotten what got them to the top in the first place.
Check out this line Mick told Rocky before his fight against Lang, and tell me it isn’t eerily similar to the way things are in Beantown today:
“Well, Rock, let’s put it this way. Now, three years ago you was supernatural. You was hard and you was nasty and you had this cast-iron jaw. But then the worst thing happened to you, that could happen to any fighter. You got civilized. But don’t worry kid. You know, presidents retire, horses retire, Man-o-war retired. They put him out to stud. That’s what you should’ve done, retired.”
The Celtics haven’t retired. They haven’t been put out to stud. But they’re civilized in a way they never used to be. They aren’t nasty, they aren’t hard, and they sure as hell don’t have a cast-iron jaw.
Once in a while, for old time’s sake, they’ll pretend like they can still intimidate opponents. They’ll stick out their chests and crow a little bit, thinking it was the words that used to intimidate opponents.
They forget it wasn’t the words, but the mentality behind them. Those Celtics were tough. When you came to play them, you better have been prepared for 15 rounds. Bodies were going be tossed, elbows would be delivered, and there was no such thing as an easy layup.
Somewhere down the line, that mentality changed.
After Boston beat L.A. in the finals two seasons ago, Ron Artest said the C’s had taken the Lakers manhood. And the Celtics had.
But now they can’t even find their own.
Yo, Adrian! Can Boston turn this thing around and hold off Clubber?