(This column was fueled by a piece Adrian Wojnarowski wrote yesterday about Kevin Garnett’s unselfishness during this lockout. It’s a great read, so go read it.)
Let Kevin Garnett be unselfish. Let him rally his colleagues and urge them not to cave into the league’s demands, even though Garnett personally would benefit if the players caved. Let him rally the union in solidarity and lead his peers into a better deal, even if that means missing games. Let him care more about the NBA’s future than his own self-interest. Let him risk $21.2 million so Avery Bradley, JaJuan Johnson and Jimmer Fredette can receive fair contracts a few years from now. Let Garnett do all that, and respect him for it.
But I’m not joining him. I want the lockout to end and I wanted it to end three months ago. Not just for me, for NBA fans everywhere, for the success of my website, for Tuesday nights when I’d rather not watch baseball, for mornings I would prefer not to view a top ten plays filled with hockey saves and only hockey saves, or for the hoards of NBA employees whose jobs have been slashed because millionaires and billionaires won’t settle on a labor deal. I certainly want the lockout to end for all the previous reasons. But I also want the lockout to end for the Boston Celtics.
One last chance. That’s been a repeating chorus for years now, but this year, that chorus makes more sense than ever. The Celtics looked older than ever while losing to the Miami Heat. Garnett and Ray Allen have one year left on their contracts. The Celtics have only three players signed beyond the upcoming season. Danny Ainge will have many more reasons to blow up the Big Three nucleus after this year than he will have to keep the nucleus together for 2012 and beyond.
All of which means we might have just one more year to watch Ray Allen spot up on the perimeter, his legs bent, ready to spring from the floor, his eyes set on the rim, his body squared perfectly toward his target, the flawless cock of his wrist and the follow through covered in gold and the resulting swish. We might have just one more year to watch Rajon Rondo run the pick-and-roll with Garnett, to see Garnett knowingly slip the pick, bee-line for the rim and rise to catch Rondo’s pass, floating down from the rafters so Garnett can secure it and slam it into the hoop. Or to watch Garnett pound his chest and mutter a stream of obscenities directed to nobody and everybody all at once, to watch his eyes that could stare a hole straight through the Great Wall of China, to see his focus and determination and know he wants to win more than many people want anything at all. Or to watch Garnett and Paul Pierce’s joint press conferences, the way they play off each other like they were best friends since childhood. Or to watch Allen interviewed at his locker, always impeccably dressed, always willing to answer questions longer than anyone else, as classy as a top-notch country club. Or to see the C’s in the playoffs, bloody and battered, fighting desperately to outlast a younger, fresher team, and knowing, win or lose, this is a Celtics team to have pride in.
A year from now, the Celtics organization could be almost anywhere. Rebuilding around Rajon Rondo with young players and draft picks. Hoping Jeff Green pans out. Following Dwight Howard to the NBA Finals. Trying to relive the glory days after resigning Garnett and Allen to smaller contracts. The Celtics’ future is cloudier and less predictable than a lightning storm.
Yet Wyc Grousbeck is reportedly one of the hard-line owners willing to risk this entire season. Garnett is clamoring for players to hold out until they get the right deal. Pierce is joining Garnett at the meetings and likely echoing his sentiments. I get why they’re doing it — Grousbeck wants more money, Garnett and Pierce want to ensure the fair treatment of NBA players for years to come.
But if Garnett isn’t going to be selfish, I will. I want this lockout to end. For the Boston Celtics, and yes, of course, for me.