On Losing

So the Warriors won, again.

More accurately, the Celtics lost. Tyler re-introduced the family to this year’s team and we watched them battle their way through the playoff. After they swept the Nets, we threw our support behind them fully as they took on Giannis and the Bucks and Jimmy Butler and the Heat and scraped and clawed there way to a spot in the Finals.

An NBA Finals between the Oakland San Francisco Warriors and Boston Celtics was the perfect match up. Our old home vs. the new. To me the Warriors are like an Italian racing car – well-funded, perfectly tuned, and unstoppable. On the straights when everything is running smoothly there is no contest. Contrast that with this young Boston team, playing rough around the edges, adjusting to their opponents and squeaking out wins after having their backs pushed up against a wall. This young team fought their way through a tough East Coast division to take the regional title. To me, the Celtics were the sand that would get into the Warrior’s drive train, I really thought this young and scrappy 2022 Celtics team might have a chance.

But they did not.

After the Celtics pulled off one win at home and another in San Francisco, the Golden State machine re-calibrated itself and there was no stopping them. With the unstoppable efficiency of a Japanese Gundam, the threes rained down mercilessly.

“They faced the Golden State Warriors in a rematch of the 1964 Finals, which the Celtics won in five games in an attempt to win their 18th championship and first since 2008. However the Celtics would lose in six games despite taking a 2-1 lead.” The Wikipedia summary of the post-season is brutal in its judgement.

While it was the turnovers that ultimately caused Boston to lose, it was those uncontested threes from the Warriors that really hurt. Swish…Swish…Swish – they put microphones on the net so the sound comes through loud and clear on the broadcast. The sound of a basketball going in without hitting the rim is the most visceral sound for a basketball fan, it’s the sweet sound of victory for one, the dagger of defeat for the other.

It was even more painful to be back in San Francisco, first at a San Francisco Giants game and then a second time, in a bar in downtown San Francisco. Everyone around me couldn’t figure out why I was pulling for the bad boys from Boston.

Misery loves company so it only makes sense to finish with this excerpt from Bill Simmons recalling the defeat of his Celtics to LeBron James at the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals.

I don’t know what happened. I just know the shots wouldn’t stop going in. After about the fifth dagger in a row (he made 10 straight), the crowd started groaning on every make — shades of Philly’s Andrew Toney ripping our hearts out 30 years ago. If you’ve ever been in the building for one of those games, you know there isn’t a deadlier sound. He single-handedly murdered one of the giddiest Celtics crowds I can remember. Thirty points in the first half. Thirty! All with that blank look on his face. It was like watching surveillance video of a serial killer coldly dismembering a body and sticking the parts in the fridge. Only we were right there.

You can’t imagine what this was like to witness in person. I know Michael Jordan had similarly astonishing games, and others, too, but not with stakes like that. This wasn’t just an elimination game. This was LeBron James’s entire career being put on trial … and it only took an hour for him to tell the jury, “Go home. I’m one of the best players ever. Stop picking me apart. Stop talking about the things I can’t do. Stop holding me to standards that have never been applied to any other NBA player. Stop blaming me for an admittedly dumb decision I never should have made. Stop saying I’m weak. Stop saying that I don’t want to win. Stop. Just … stop.”

As a Celtics fan, I was devastated. As a basketball fan, I appreciated the performance for what it was. One of the greatest players ever was playing one of his greatest games ever. He swallowed up every other relevant story line. Needless to say, the Celtics couldn’t match him — especially Pierce, who’s worn down from four weeks of battling Andre Iguodala, Shane Battier and LeBron on one leg and appears to be running on fumes of his fumes’ fumes at this point. The fans were so shell-shocked that many (including me and my father) filed out with three minutes remaining, not because we were lousy fans, not to beat the traffic, but because we didn’t want to be there anymore. We wanted to get away from LeBron. He ruined what should have been a magical night. We never really had a chance to cheer, swing the game, rally our guys, anything. He pointed a remote control at us and pressed “MUTE.” It was like being in a car accident. LeBron James ran over 18,000 people.

The Consequences of Caring

Nothing but respect for the Warriors. Italian racing machine that they are, there is no doubt they were impressive. Painful as it was, they are an amazing team to watch. They are an experienced Finals team

Check out this clip from The latest episode of the Draymond Green Show where Draymond explains why he thinks the Celtics will be back again.

Draymond Green on the 2022 Celtics prospects for the future

Time to reset. I’ll be rooting once again next year, for the Brooklyn Nets, then the Celtics. See you then.





One response to “On Losing”

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