If there was one thing I wouldn’t want a teammate to say about me, it would be that I have no fight. I’d rather have a teammate say I was the least-skilled player ever, or as ugly as Tyrone Hill, or that I had a jump shot not even Ben Wallace would want. Okay, maybe I’d rather have no fight than be as ugly as Tyrone Hill, but still: One of the worst things a teammate could possibly say about you is that you have no fight.
I now forward you to Charlotte, where that insult is precisely the one Gerald Wallace just hurled at D.J. Augustin, while comparing Augustin to former Bobcat Raymond Felton. (Hang on, folks. I will tie the Celtics into this in time.)
“”D.J. doesn’t have the fight,” Wallace told the Charlotte Observer. Whoa. “Not to compare them as far as abilities, but D.J.’s personality is not as high as Ray’s was as far as aggression and attitude on the court. D.J. is more laid-back.”
Not to be outdone by one of his players, coach Larry Brown also volleyed around blame.
“It starts with [Wallace]. It’s starts with Jack, it starts with Boris [Diaw]”, said Brown, adding, “It’s not the youth. I think the youth plays with energy.”
Ahh, so the old guard is blaming the youngsters, yet the coach (and, I assume, the youngsters), are blaming the old guard. Meanwhile, Charlotte, which made the playoffs last season for the first time in franchise history, is 7-13 and quickly moving nowhere. Stephen Jackson admitted, “We’re a soft team,” and “we don’t have any edge now.” Brown added, “”We don’t play together, we don’t play hard enough. We don’t move the ball, we don’t defend as a team.”
Tell me how you really feel, guys. But the point of this post isn’t to harp on the Bobcats’ weaknesses, nor to praise their candid attitude toward the press. No, I could care less about the Charlotte Bobcats. If I had a choice between death and Bobcats season tickets, I’d probably choose the former. Okay, so I’m exaggerating. But I still don’t give a damn about the moribund franchise located in North Carolina.
Rather, the whole blame game in Charlotte reminds me: we have it pretty good in Boston, this year. Think about every player on the Celtics roster. Is there one, even one, you would describe by the words “he just doesn’t have the fight”? Think about it. Nate Robinson can be frustrating, but he always plays hard. Energy is the least of his worries. At times last season, I felt like Marquis Daniels coasted. But with his renewed commitment to defense this season, I tend to believe Daniels’s injuries last year affected him far more than a laissez-faire attitude. Even Von Wafer always seems to give 100% effort, though his focus and attention to detail don’t always match the effort.
The only player on this year’s roster whose fight I might question is Jermaine O’Neal, and I qualify that with “might” because I still can’t tell whether he’s actually a tough guy who just has a lot of poor injury luck. You guys could disagree with me, but I’ve never watched O’Neal play and gotten the feeling, “That’s a guy I want next to me in the trenches.” I don’t just mean this season, either — it would be difficult to judge O’Neal based on seven injury-plagued games. I mean throughout his entire career. The only time I’ve really thought, “Wow, O’Neal might be a tough guy” was when he punched out the dude who looked like Entourage’s Turtle in the Palace Brawl. Even then, the guy O’Neal punched out was approximately 4’8″ tall. Other than that display of Mike Tyson-ness, O’Neal seems to have a lot of Vince Carter in him. And I don’t mean the superhuman hops.
This year, of course, the Celtics don’t have to worry about Rasheed Wallace. For all that Sheed was, one thing he wasn’t was a fighter — at least in the regular season. Still, none of the Celtics ever showed worry. The Bobcats are falling apart at the seams because of a lack of effort, but as the C’s sleep-walked through a 27-27 end to last season, there was little (no?) concern. They knew they’d be ready come playoff time, and everything else was unimportant. That’s the difference between an unestablished team (Charlotte) and a championship-tested team (Boston). The C’s have the confidence (not to mention the talent) to overcome setbacks.
They also have the fighters, and thank God for that. Also, thank God for the movie by that name (Fighter) coming out about Micky Ward’s life. It looks terrific, even if the slimmed-down Christian Bale kind of reminds me of a skeleton.
And yes, I just spent a whole post about the Celtics’ toughness without mentioning any of the Celtics’ toughest players. Their fight goes without mentioning, no?