Mediocrity is a curse in the NBA. It is a no man's land occupied by teams that are not necessarily good enough to contend for a championship, but also not bad enough to get the kind of draft picks that can transcend a franchise.
Meanwhile, the GM of a mediocre team is always faced with the unenviable task of deciding whether to tear down a sinking ship or continue to ride a car with heavy mileage that has hit a few speed bumps until the wheels fall off.
Know who usually gets the deciding vote? The paying fans.
Now, if the Boston Celtics were a perpetual playoff bottom feeder that had guys like Vin Baker or Antoine "Employee No. 8" Walker on the team, people would be asking for blood like it was a Salem witch trial.
But because the team is composed of fan favorites like Kevin Garnett and Celtic mainstay Paul Pierce, everyone is willing to give the them the most elusive PR glory that ever existed in sports—the benefit of the doubt.
Which means, it doesn't really matter that LeBron James essentially assassinated the Celtics playoff hopes in one game, so much as that Boston was only one game away from beating the now defending champs.
It doesn't really matter that we now know the extent of Dwyane Wade's knee problems during the playoffs or that Chris Bosh missed a majority of the series more so than that Avery Bradley, Jeff Green, and Chris Wilcox were sidelined with injury.
So what if the Miami Heat eliminated the Celtics for the second season in a row and just stole a former member of their big three for half the money he could've received to stay in Boston? They have Jason Terry, Jared Sullinger, and Fab Melo now in the fold along with a healthy Jeff Green and Avery Bradley.
Who cares that Kevin Garnett will be 37 while Paul Pierce and Jason Terry will be 35 before the third round of next season's playoffs start? Rajon Rondo will still only be 27.
Finally, what difference does it make that Derrick Rose and Dwight Howard were both sidelined with injuries at the start of last year's playoffs? Boston has been among the Eastern conference elite since they won the championship in 2008.
This summer was a fork in the road for the Celtics, and they decided to go all-in with the same foundation of players that has betrayed them for the last four years running.
And maybe they had every reason to stay the course given how close they came last season in spite of all odds (or injuries) and given the grim reality of what the alternative might've been (anyone want to play in hypothermia, USA with Rajon "I'm so unlikable my parents almost ran away from home" Rondo?)
But don't be surprised if this time next year, the Celtics and its fanbase aren't sitting at home dejected after another failed run and kicking themselves for sacrificing a better tomorrow with a similar today.
Because, from the rest of the world's perspective, the Celtics have been a sinking ship ever since Kendrick Perkins was traded away, and Ubuntu went from being a symbol of unity to something Phoebe Buffay and Rachel Green may have once tried to order at a Sushi restaurant.
My only question is, will the "if only we were healthy" card still provide fans with the same kind of solace for the next three years that it seemingly has in the last four?
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