There’s a little rivalry brewing, eh? Of course, a rivalry has to consist of two mostly equal teams. I suspect that part will come, sooner rather than later.
The reasons for the rivalry, I think, are clear. The Celtics resent the focus everyone has paid to the Heat. They hated that the Heat were the near-unanimous preseason choice to win the Eastern Conference, and they felt especially disrespected when the media began calling the Heat “The Big Three.” The C’s spent the summer saying they could care less about Miami’s new-look roster, but let’s not get it twisted: they care. A lot. And they want blood.
After last night’s game, Paul Pierce tweeted, “It’s been a pleasure to bring my talents to south beach now on to Memphis.” Shot fired. Shot connected. Lebron, suck it.
But the postgame bullets weren’t done. Udonis Haslem shot back today.
“Paul who?” Haslem told reporters at Friday’s afternoon practice, according to Michael Wallace of ESPN’s The Heat Index. “Man, ain’t nobody paying them dudes no attention, man. You know what studio gangster is? Look up that, look up the definition of studio gangster. I’m here to play basketball. First of all, I don’t tweet. So I wouldn’t know what he tweeted if you guys didn’t tell me.”
Studio gangster, in case you were wondering, means a fake tough guy. My initial response? A knock-knock joke:
Haslem: Who’s there?
Haslem: Paul who?
Me: Paul who dropped 25 points on your team last night and knocked your ass out of last year’s playoffs.
My second response? I kind of like what Haslem said. If anybody else on the Heat had said it, it would have been different. I would have told them to fight their battles on the court, not off it. But Haslem’s as tough as nails. He’s one of the few Heat players I know will never back down from any challenge. And he’s letting the Celtics know: it’s not always going to be as easy as it was last night. We’re coming after you, and we aren’t afraid of you.
Haslem’s also sending a message to his own teammates: fuck the Celtics. We can be tough guys, too. We can’t let them run all over us.
A rivalry, huh? This is fun. After last night’s game, the only Heat player any Celtic shook hands with was Eddie House. All I could think was one thing:
This is how basketball’s supposed to be.