I gotta' tell you, the recent slide of the Boston Celtics could be the foreshadowing of some very satisfying poetic justice. For those of you who have yet to drop in on the National Basketball Association regular season, I don't blame you at all—I've really only got one eye on it myself.
And that's how I almost missed the developing story surrounding one Kevin Garnett and his defending champion Celtics.
After jumping out to one of the best (if not the very best) starts in NBA history, Boston has hit a bit of a rough patch. The C's have lost five of seven. Even worse—actually better as you will see—three of those five losses came to some of the midgets of the 2008-2009 season to date.
First, Garnett and company lost to the Golden State Warriors. My guys were 8-22 at the time. I wrote about this game as an unacceptable, yet classic example of NBA coasting. In hindsight, I may have been wrong.
Then the defending Champs lost to the New York Knickerbockers, who were 12-19 at the time. From what I can gather, the Knicks are more interested in prepping for the post-2010 free agency sweepstakes than they are in competing for the next two campaigns.
Additionally, I seem to remember vague whisperings about a inchoate rivalry between New York and Boston.
Most recently Boston lost to the 12-22 Charlotte Bobcats, who are not to be confused with the Cincinnati Bearcats (although the temptation is there).
Before I get to the delicious hints of justice in these three losses, I need to qualify them in the interest of not looking incredibly naive (and dumber than I usually look). Boston is still one of the best teams in the NBA and really only needs to consider a handful of other teams as serious contenders to its throne.
Furthermore, this rough stretch follows a 19-game win streak that spurted the C's out to a 27-2 start. That would be the best start by pure record in the history of the NBA. And the other two losses of the five were to the Lakers (who seem to have returned to monster status) and the Portland Trailblazers (who are already good and promise to get even better once Greg Oden gets his legs under him/head around the professional game).
There is no shame in either of those losses.
Oh yeah, and that seven-game jag includes one, count 'em ONE, home game. Boston won that one against the woeful Washington Wizards, who are lucky that's hard to say otherwise they'd see it in print more often.
Still, given the recent antics of Kevin Garnett, I see hope in those three losses to the Warriors, Knicks, and Bobcats.
It's one of the bigger non-stories that the media has largely ignored—Garnett's outright jack-assery. Seriously, how was it not the leading story for several days that one of the best players in the league and leader of the defending NBA Champions got down on all fours to bark at/menace an opposing player?
Especially given all the other examples of Little Kevin trying to bully players half his size and/or even less that fraction of his superstar status.
Zaza Pachulia? Jerryd Bayless (a rookie)? Jose Calderon? Anthony Peeler (who gave him an awesome short left elbow—I would not want to fight Anthony Peeler, he looks like he knows what he is doing and would f*ck up Kevin Garnett)? Marco Belinelli?
I guess you have to give him credit for taking a weakass cheap shot at Tim Duncan since TD's at least Garnett's size and caliber. Of course, Duncan's also one of the classiest guys in all of sports and Little Kevin slapped him in the back of the head when TD wasn't looking.
And that's one of KG's braver moments.
Let's not forget an incident with another young player who is trying to establish himself— LaMarcus Aldridge.
I think it's an understatement to say things are going sideways when Jalen Rose is the voice of reason.
You can get away with that stuff in Minnesota when no one's looking and nobody much cares, but not when you play under the microscope in a market like Boston. Sooner or later, the feeding frenzy will start on a punk.
It's astounding that it's taken this long.
And make no mistake, Little Kevin (who could throttle me out without breaking a sweat) is a sheep in wolf's clothing. He's a coward and can claim no differently.
Not until he stops bullying players who have neither the size nor clout to effectively defend themselves.
Not until he stops cheap-shotting anyone who's even close to his own size, physically or metaphorically in the NBA landscape.
Most of all, not until he burns every single byte of that Antonio McDyess footage.
Tough to pass yourself off as a tough guy when the only time you're brave is when you're bigger. Even more so when there's ample evidence of you running like a frightened child from anyone your own size.
The hope I see in the losses is that another of the NBA's little guys steps up and rocks the Celtics just like Peeler did to Garnett. I hope a team like the Oklahoma Thunder or the Memphis Grizzlies or the Sacramento Kings can send Boston into one of those hold-on-a-sec-while-I-figure-out-where-I-am bounces that throws a wrench into the repeat plans.
Maybe an NBA also-ran can keep the Celtics from home-court advantage and that ultimately costs them. Maybe one of the lower seeds can knock them out of the postseason. I'd take either.
And I think the little guys deserve it.
A little poetic justice isn't too much to ask.
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