Why Boston Celtics Must Not Indulge the Ray Allen Conflict
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If they cannot, the C's will get steamrolled by Miami on opening night, and the issue will be magnified further by hungry reporters.
Sure, Allen's departure stings. It raises questions about the inner workings and chemistry of the organization. It also makes a rival team stronger. But it must not be an event that alters on-court focus.
Boston faces tough enough odds entering the season simply because other teams around the league—like the Lakers, Nets and Sixers—are returning stronger than last year. The last thing that the C's need is to sabotage their own chance for success by succumbing to off-court distractions.
I don't mean to downplay the significance of players transferring from one franchise to another. Boston fans are no stranger to seeing their favorite athletes jump ship to rival franchises (remember Johnny Damon to the Yankees?).
Further, the media seizes every possible opportunity to blow stories out of proportion. This year's Red Sox team highlighted the very powerful negative effects that sports media can have if given too much of an opening.
Take the Miami Heat in their first season with the new "Big Three" as an additional example of the negative effects of being under the media microscope.
How do you feel today about Ray Allen's departure?
Although many argue that they couldn't best Dallas in the 2011 NBA Finals because they weren't yet fully accustomed to playing together, the weight that the press added to the shoulders of Heat leadership surely impacted their chances for success.
Instead of allowing themselves to continue being sour about losing a friend and teammate, the Celtics must channel their emotions toward beating the Heat and other NBA powerhouses.
In order to do so, they must focus on the many positive things that occurred this offseason.
For example, they should be motivated by the fact that management addressed the problems of guard depth and rebounding both in the draft and via free agency. Also, Jeff Green will return from a heart ailment and play his first full season as a Celtic.
The reality is, this team is better than the one that took the floor against Miami on June 9 for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. They have more youth, talent, depth and athleticism in 2012.
The reality is, Ray Allen was their least vocal leader. Although his exemplary preparation and professionalism will be missed, the heart of the Celtics will still beat on.
Yet if they cannot stop feeding into the drama surrounding Allen's departure, Boston will stand no chance to achieve their main goal of an NBA Finals victory.
Doc Rivers seems to have the team headed in the right direction. According to Chris Forsberg of ESPN Boston, Rivers hopes his team remains mum on the issue.
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"We're going to just let Ray keep talking," Rivers said. "It's easier."
The Celtics can take advantage of the situation by embracing their former star's departure as organic and moving on with confidence in the current roster.
The sooner that Boston players and fans stop admitting to being bothered by the nature of basketball business, the sooner that they can fully commit to a successful campaign in 2012-13.
Opening night at the American Airlines Arena in Miami will surely be an emotional event. Not only will the Heat raise a championship banner in the Celtics' presence, but Ray Allen will trot out of the wrong tunnel for the first time.
A tough pill to swallow, no doubt. What kind of team can overcome the drama? One led in spirit by Kevin Garnett and Doc Rivers.
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