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Thursday, June 5th, 2008 at 9:30 am  |  76 responses

Trying to Hate the Celtics

by Marcel Mutoni

One aspect about this NBA Finals that’s being underplayed, in my opinion, is how little most young basketball fans can relate to the historic rivalry between the Celtics and Lakers. Young fans like myself. For instance, when Kevin McHale attempted to decapitate Kurt Rambis in the ’84 Finals, I had just celebrated my first birthday a few months prior to that series-changing event.

All of the relevant Celtics-Lakers moments – The Russell/Wilt wars; the surreal ’69 Finals; Larry Bird calling out his teammates in the aforementioned ’84 series; Kareem finally winning a title over the hated Celtics in ‘85; Magic’s baby skyhook in ‘87; Jack Nicholson risking his life by sitting front and center in the Boston Garden with a sh*t-eating grin on his face the whole time; the bloodthirsty “Beat LA” chants; all of it – I am aware of only from watching a ton of ESPN Classic and reading the countless articles and books that have been written about them.

There’s nothing visceral about the rivalry for me, and many others – we didn’t get to experience the games in real-time, and therefore, cannot truly grasp the significance of what is to begin tonight.

(As for the Laker and Celtic teams of today, it’d be more than a stretch to say that a real rivalry exists between them. The Celtics only became relevant again after nearly two decades this year; the Lakers, though always a big draw on television and on the road, hadn’t been considered legitimate title contenders in almost five years.)

All of that being said, I bleed Laker purple and gold, and I feel as though it is my duty to despise the Celtics. As such, below I’ll go through Boston’s roster, and try to find reasons to begrudge everyone in a green uniform.

Kendrick Perkins: Although the curators of Perk is a Beast and I have had our differences in the past, I enjoy Perkins’s hustle and non-stop motor. Unfortunately, he could also prove to be an x-factor in the series, as he causes all types of matchup problems for the Lakers. Final verdict: Disapprove.

Sam Cassell: He’s turning into stone before our very eyes, even though he seems to be the only one who doesn’t realize this. Regardless, he remains one of the more entertaining personalities in the League, and may be the only athlete on the planet who regularly reminds us of the size of his cojones. Final verdict: Approve.

Kevin Garnett: One my favorite players of all time. A relentless competitor, a sure-fire Hall of Famer, and one of the most intense players to ever lace ‘em up. You cannot claim to enjoy the game of basketball, and not be a fan of KG. Final verdict: Approve. Gah! This is even harder than I thought it would be…

James Posey: Ah, this is more like it. He’s hated by fans from coast-to-coast for his dirty play on the defensive end, and well, that’s good enough for me. Final verdict: Disapprove.

Brian Scalabrine: The man has red hair, is beloved by Celtics fans (and this being Boston, it’s not hard to guess why), and generally looks like someone who should be bagging groceries somewhere as opposed to being gainfully employed by one of the most storied basketball franchises ever. Oh, and there’s this. Final verdict: Grudgingly approve.

Ray Allen: Shuttlesworth possesses what is arguably the most aesthetically pleasing jumpshot in the history of the sport. He was one of the few players in the League with enough guts (certainly the only star) to call out Kobe when Shaq got traded by the Lakers (something, even though he may claim otherwise, Bryant will surely have in the back of his mind during the series.)

Even more importantly, Allen participated in a threesome with two pornstars in a memorable scene from the movie He Got Game. How in the world am I supposed to hate this man? It’s impossible. Final verdict: Approve.

Eddie House: I’m completely unmoved by him. The only thing I can say about Eddie House, is that he seems like the kind of guy who spends a lot of time thinking about the next tattoo that he’s going to get. Final verdict: Disapprove.

Rajon Rondo: He’s done an admirable job of holding his own, despite having the unenviable task – at the age of 22 no less – of keeping three stars happy on the offensive end. His name is also now a verb. Final verdict: Approve.

Leon Powe: I probably couldn’t pick him out of a police lineup. Final verdict: push.

Glen Davis: He’s fat and cuddly, and reminds me of the stuffed animals I, er, my sister used to play with when we were kids. I have a sister, sure, as far as you know. There’s also the outside chance that he’ll swallow a player whole before it’s all said and done. Final verdict: Approve.

P.J. Brown: Old and wise. I bet, though, that he reminds everyone of that fact. I hate people like that. Final verdict: Disapprove.

Paul Pierce: How many dudes do you know that not only got stabbed in the offseason, but returned to the court the next year and didn’t miss a single game? Not only that, but how many other NBA players do you know will casually flip foes a gang sign in the middle of a Playoff game? Exactly. Paul Pierce is undeniably awesome, and a championship would do wonders for his stature among Celtic greats. Final verdict: Approve.

So, there you have it. The Celtics have a mostly likable team, filled with compelling characters and stories. Not exactly the kind of opponent I want to be going up against for the championship. I’m sure, though, that my feelings on the team will change as the series evolves.

At the crack of dawn on Monday morning, I will hop on a plane bound for Los Angeles, and will be in that city for the entire week. There’s an issue with getting into the games that I desperately need to resolve – details of which I will get into a little bit more over at Deadspin next week.

Enjoy the games everyone, and prepare to regale your grandkids with stories from this sure-to-be classic confrontation. Not that they’ll necessarily be listening.

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  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    This was funny.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    Remarkably, in the 80′s as a teenager, I was rooting for the Lakers, every time. Today, it’s the opposite. How times change. Nice work Marcel. The Cassell cojones line made me laugh my a*s off, too.

  • http://www.friendster.com/sesa Sesa

    Please Eboy, please stop with the Lakers hate. I always thought that you’re a neutral basketball fan leaning towards the Heat

  • http://joeloholic.wordpress.com Joel O’s

    @Eboy: What changed about the Lakers in the last 20 years to make you root against em now? Were they more likeable then? Like Marcel I was born in the mid 80s, so I’ve got no idea what kinda “aura” they had about them back then, except that my dad was a giant Larry Bird fan, but by the time I knew enough to appreciate basketball Bird was so beat up he only had a season or so left in him.

  • http://www.friendster.com/sesa Sesa

    Since I don’t live in US, I have the privilige only to root the players without having to jump on the team’s bandwagon

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    Sesa, ’cause like the Yankees in baseball, the Lakers have become a conglomarate instead of the legendary ball team they were for so long. Still respect the organization but can’t get behind a team that has so many disfunctional parts that is now back to prominence because the league allowed it to get to that point.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    Joel, for me, and many, many, many others like me, coming from the inner city, the Lakers played ball the way the dudes I knew played ball or wanted to play ball. The Celtics were the antithesis of that. And in those formitave teen years the Lakers dazzled, the Celtics did not. Plus it was easy to hate Mchale, Parish, Ainge and Larry, while you always respected their ability. Same as I hated the Bad Boy Pistons but knew they were a great team.

  • adams

    I humbly ask people to please stop coming with lame testicle jokes every time Cassell’s name is mentioned. I know you guys take real interest in other men’s private parts, but it’s getting really old. I definitely prefer “KG has no balls” jokes.

  • http://joeloholic.wordpress.com Joel O’s

    That makes sense, Eboy. The thing about this Celtics team, though, is that they are as “manufactured” as this Lakers team is. I love Kobe, but this Laker team (nor this Celtics one) doesn’t feel “ready” yet. Maybe it’s just me thinking this way, but NBA champions aren’t “made” in a year – they have to go through suffering / setbacks / obstacles to get there.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    I hate both of them. Equal oppurtunity.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    I agree with you 1000%, Joel. I guess that’s why I’m just going for the team with the 4 guys (PJ Brown, too) who don’t have a ring that deserve at least one taste of the winning champagne, than the team that has the way better chance of getting back to this point in the future and who’s best player has had that drink already numerous times .

  • http://joeloholic.wordpress.com Joel O’s

    Haha, indeed. If the Celtics win a ring, they’ll be winning one for the Barkleys, the Stocktons and the Mailmen out there.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    Exactly.

  • B. Long

    I love to hate all these guys, but I still respect KG and Double P. Ray Allen still remains one of the most overrated players of his generation and I’m not big on guys who are better known for their role in a movie than anything they’ve accomplished in the playoffs. Hate, Hate, Hate…….

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    As someone whose life revolved around the ’80s Showtime Lakers, I am not interested in the ramblings of no-nothing young people who can’t appreciate history. Please delete this column, Mr. Mutoni.
    Actually, I was telling Myles how weird it is for me having grown up feeling like arguably the only certainties of my existence was my loyalty to the Lakers and my hatred of the Celtics. I literally had a dart board on our patio with a photo of Larry Bird’s face. And now I’ll be rooting for the Celtics to beat the Lakers in the NBA Finals.
    Change is the only constant, friends.

  • Squirrel7

    Regardless of how likeable any of the Celtics roster is, they are still coached by Doc Rivers, and it would pain me for him to be in the company of fellow ‘Chip-winning coaches…..

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    Ryan always wants to be like me.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    KNOW-nothings. I’m stupid!

  • Squirrel7

    Hmmmm, that wasn’t worded very well, what I meant was I think Rivers is an awful coach, and certainly doesn’t deserve to have NBA Champion on his coaching resume.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    I didn’t “root” for those Lakers, eboy. I lived for them. I still have a keychain from the ’86-87 back to back champs on my keychain, dude.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Also: F*ck Skeets for never having me on the podcast. I made him what he is. He knows this. The internet beef is back on for real.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    They weren’t my team, Jones, but since the Bulls were crappy then, the Lakers were a)one of 4 teams always on CBS and b)usually in the Finals providing great basketball. Plus Buck was always incredible to watch, win or lose.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    Band wagon-ers!

  • Froggiestyle

    see?!?! all these younguns an all – no sense of history. speaking of LA showtime, why is it that NO BIG MAN ever tries to bring back the skyhook? Granted not the easiest of shots, but a lot of these big stiffs got no O whatsoever!?! It may not be the prettiest shot in the world, but man when Kareem was in the zone with that hook….. no D could stop it at all…. ahh memories ;0)

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    Is Kobe on your dart board now Ryan?

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    I no longer own a dart board, Tad.

  • http://www.heavyasheaven.blogspot.com DP

    Ray Allen better be prepared for Hell on Earth for the next two weeks. Kobe is going to eat him alive and I’m going to enjoy every damn minute of it. They might want to page James Posey for this assignment because he might slow Kobe down for ah…let me think…30 seconds?

  • B. Long

    My two earliest sports memories: Hearing my Grandpa cuss for the first time when the sportscaster said Tom Landry had been fired and sitting in my Uncles lap while he told me that Kareem was the greatest player he’d ever seen. I remember loving Cap cause he looked like an awkward superhero in those googles. Then I got hooked on Magic and I wore that #32 jersey till the numbers peeled off.

  • http://www.heavyasheaven.blogspot.com DP

    Ryan, are you talking about the J.E. skeets?

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Yeah, that’s him. We have history. I despise all Canadians, but him most of all.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ Tariq

    Ryan:

    Don’t forget Alex Trebek. I thought he was the Anti-Christ for a long time, but that was before I learned that the A-C was the dude who’s gonna “force Israel into a peace with the Ay-rabs”.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ Tariq

    Mutoni:

    I loved this piece, although I still think the X-factor will be Rondo, with his inconsistent play, rather than Perk, who should be solid but not spectacular. I pretty much know what Perkins is going to produce. I may be wrong though (I rarely am).

  • Kadavour

    @Joel O:i agree, I can’t think of another squad that was as “manufactured” as this Celtic ensemble since that Payton/Malone fiasco that LA tried back in ’04. But i got beef with this statement: “NBA champions aren’t “made” in a year – they have to go through suffering / setbacks / obstacles to get there.” So the fall of a dynasty, to not making the playoffs, to barely making the playoffs only to getting booted out of the playoffs in the first round in consecutive years, and the off-season drama doesn’t satisfy your “suffering setbacks and obstacles” criteria?

  • Kadavour

    only to get** good lord these type-o’s are loving me today

  • blackjack

    My Abridged ratings of the Lakers:

    Derek Fisher=Great guy: approve
    Kobe=Scumbag: disapprove
    Odom=has no right hand: disapprove
    Radmanovic=Could be a soviet spy: disapprove
    Gasol=Skinny and spanish:approve
    Vujacic=Looks like a 6th grader: disapprove
    Walton=good pedigree: approve
    Turiaf=Gonzaga, annoying, ugly: disapprove
    Phil Jackson=soul patch: disapprove
    Farmar=UCLA: disapprove
    Ira Newble=activist: approve
    Lakers as a whole: disapprove

  • People’s Princess

    Thats more like it,Eboy..

  • AC

    @Blackjack…. Not bad….. Didn’t have the comical filler of Glen Davis: The line of “There’s also the outside chance that he’ll swallow a player whole before it’s all said and done.” was classic.

    Go Celts

  • http://coco-vents.blogspot.com Co Co

    I don’t wanna live in a world where fans need good reasons to hate teams. I hate all Boston teams. :) I used to root for KG, but he went to Boston so my hopes of him getting a ring are now nonexistent. Same would go with A I who I looooooove! If he went to Boston, I couldn’t root for him to win. I don’t have a good reason for my hatred of Boston teams and damnit I don’t need one!

  • Pingback: You’d Think We’d Learn Something New « RedsArmy.com: The Voice Of Celtics Fans

  • http://www.heavyasheaven.blogspot.com DP

    nice blackjack. haters make the world go round.
    blackjack=approve. he is a hater and I love those guys more than the fans.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    I heart Co Co.

  • http://coco-vents.blogspot.com Co Co

    I heart you too Tad.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    I hate both of you.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ Tariq

    I heart Co Co, but not TAD.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    I obsess for Tariq.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ Tariq

    It could be the other way around. I forget.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ Tariq

    Eboy:
    HA!

  • People’s Princess

    I heart OJ

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    Mayo or Simpson?

  • http://coco-vents.blogspot.com Co Co

    Eboy’s a hater!!!! Is this cuz of Dwyane???

  • People’s Princess

    Orange Juice :)

  • People’s Princess

    Actually OJ and D Widdy would be kinda awesome.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ H to the izzo

    Go McDonalds!

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    Nah, I feel shunned ’cause you are always offering yourself to other cats. Russ in your dreams, Isiah in your fantasies, TAD for his vacant head coaching spot. I’ll be alright though.

  • People’s Princess

    So Eboy whats up in South Beach?? Any rumblings on ‘Trix opting out yet??

  • http://coco-vents.blogspot.com Co Co

    What can I say, I’m easy. :)

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    @ Co Co,

    Great.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    PP, nothing yet. I think the Heat are stuck with him until at least the trade deadline next season.

  • doc

    Its easy to hate the bum ass Celtics

  • http://www.myspace.com/hemantsbeats what

    True… the only thing Lakers Celtics means to me is that everyone at ESPN is having a two-week-long orgasm

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    Damn, i’m getting leftovers?!

  • http://www.heavyasheaven.blogspot.com DP

  • http://www.nba.com Hursty

    DP blog.

  • The Last Kings Fan

    I’m having trouble deciding if I liked the post or the comments more…let’s call it a tie. And the Celtics just bug me. I don’t have a reason why, they just do. At least Rob Horry isn’t on the Lakers any more…

  • The Last Kings Fan

    By the way Eboy, I’ll trade you Artest for Marion…

  • http://www.perkisabeast.com/blog The Crack Staff @ Perkisabeast.com

    Mutoni!

    This world is very much like Kobe – tender and well fed, raised like royalty and yet still when offered the front door, goes insists on going around back – and we are the just fist that bruises that cornhole cruisers face.

    Laugh at the Lakers

    Some semblance of the Staff half the afternoon away from the finals and their soberness um sobriety

  • http://www.perkisabeast.com/blog The Crack Staff @ Perkisabeast.com

    wow,

    maybe it iosn’t game time

  • http://joeloholic.wordpress.com Joel O’s

    @Kadavour: I actually kinda posted a comment regarding that, but it didn’t come out. The Lakers have definitely proven themselves a bit more than the Celtics. Their “obstacle” that they had to overcome was the Suns, twice. These Celtics have honestly not met with any real threat yet – they beat a cinderella team, a hopelessly flawed one-man show and an overconfident big-headed squad to get here. This year the Lakers beat Utah and the Spurs – arguably the Celtics’ equal on any day – so they’ve had a longer, tougher road than them.

  • jay

    so now people need reasons to hate on New England teams. i never thought this day would come, but what do i know.

  • Garreth

    How about Eddie House’s kid? In what world can you bring a little midget on the bench who high fives all the Celtics during timeouts? How annoying would that be?

    The biggest problem is how do you tell Eddie? “Hey dude, your kid being on the court during games is annoying. Beat it.”

    wtf?

  • David

    Now you need to do an article about how/why you’re supposed to love each of the Lakers.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    Reason 1,352 to hate the Celtics: They beat the Lakers in game 1.

  • eyehatedirk

    Defintely pulling for the Celts in this one. I’d like to see KG, Pierce and Allen get a title before it’s all said and done, as well as Brian Scalabrine.

  • youngmuggsy

    KG isn’t just intense, he’s clinically insane. Keep the sharp objects away from him if the celtics lose this series.

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    I’m not sure who I want to win this series. Pierce and Garnett have long been two of my favorite players (and people) in the League, and Ray Allen has always been the consummate professional. And it’s impossible to dislike Rondo and Perk. Then again, it’s been a blast watching Kobe grow up, LO is from NYC, and I’d really like to see Phil Jax overtake Red Auerbach. Just give me a tightly contested seven-game series that isn’t decided until the last minute and I’ll be happy.

  • B_Easy24

    What the hell Word Press keeps eating my comments!!!!!!!

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