As I drove home to Massachusetts to visit my family for Easter, I found myself with a dying IPod battery and plenty of time to reflect on life. And by life I mean the two things that are constantly on my mind: women and the Boston Celtics (and not always in that order).
I know what you’re thinking: "There’s no way Andrew's going to try to write a cheesy article loosely linking his relationships with women to the trials and tribulations of his favorite sports franchise."
That, my friends, is where you’re wrong.
The following is my attempt to explain the complex relationship between Kevin Durant and this diehard Boston Celtics fan.
A year ago, the Boston Celtics were in the midst of one of the worst seasons in Boston sports history after crawling out of a franchise-worst 18-game losing streak. The C’s faced unbelievable injury problems, a seriously waning fan base, and—worst of all—virtual obscurity. The 2006-2007 Boston Celtics finished as the second worst team in the NBA with just 24 wins.
There was a light at the end of the tunnel though: a 6-9 college freshman (soon to become the National College Player of the Year) with an absurd wingspan and a truly sleek skill-set that comes along maybe once in a generation.
This young man's name was known by every member of Celtic Nation. Kevin Durant was the hope we had longed for since Bird retired, Reggie Lewis left us all too early, we were teased by Tim Duncan in the NBA Draft Lottery, and Len Bias nearly took every Celtics fan's mental well-being with him.
Somehow, some way, Durant would be ours!
While the rest of the country argued over who was better—Durant or the equally dominant college freshman, Greg Oden—some Boston fans began to do something that had never been seen in the Beantown sports scene: They rooted against their team.
Tragedy and fading memories of glory days will do crazy things to sports fans. In the words of Rick James: "Cocaine’s a hell of a drug."
May 22, 2007–"A Day That Shall Live In Infamy"
Did the Sporting News cover with Tim Duncan in Celtics green that came out the week before the draft jinx us? Was it the Sports Guy's horrible decision to watch "Déjà vu" the night of the draft lottery that was exactly 10 years after the Duncan tragedy?
Maybe it was the basketball gods dishing out a dose of karma to a loyal fan base that had done the unthinkable and pined for their team to lose games down the stretch.
Whatever the reason, Boston dropped to the fifth spot in the 2007 NBA Draft, and Celtics fans were left with that horrible gut-wrenching "not again" feeling. What happened next was this fan’s worst nightmare.
Rumors that Pierce wants out, having to read half-assed sports columns suggesting that the Celtics aren't half-bad if Gerald Green can mature and develop his mental game (yes, the same Gerald Green who is currently not on an NBA roster less than a year later), and waiting over a month to see what (nearly) useless consolation prize the team would pick up.
When I finally got up the energy to call my family and friends to discuss the most recent Celtics tragedy, all of the true fans echoed Bill Simmons' sentiment about the lottery in his article published a week after the draft.
"The thing that really kills me? I thought we were going to win," Simmons said. "I really did. I was feeling it."
And here is where the link to women comes in...You see, Kevin Durant was the one who got away.
Let me explain.
Kevin Durant is like the girl that almost every guy has met at least once in his life.
She’s beautiful, popular, intelligent, and most importantly...she’s into you! Maybe you met her in high school, or maybe she was in your freshman writing class in college. You started talking to one another and then—to your surprise—you totally hit it off.
The two of you start hanging out more and more during the day, and talk to each other at night on the phone. Finally, you get up the courage to ask her out and then it hits you...REALITY!
Unlike the other amazing girls you’ve met before, her reasons are different. It’s fate...out of her hands. You see, if she’s the girl you met in high school, she’s going across the country to study at Reed College and doesn’t want to ruin the great relationship that you have built up over the past few months.
And if she’s the gorgeous young lady you met in college, she’s about to embark on a year-long term abroad in Europe and feels she needs to be single to find herself and also doesn’t want to ruin the great relationship that you have built up over the past few months.
Either way, you lose. It’s not for lack of effort or compatibility. For some unknown reason, it just wasn’t meant to be.
You’re hurt, but you accept it and after a short period of time realize that she’s not just feeding you a line. You really care as much about the friendship that you’ve created with this wonderful person so much that you wish nothing but the best for her.
Despite the fact that it’s a rare occurrence nowadays, you stay in touch with this girl and really do become best friends.
Kevin Durant, I have convinced myself, is THAT GIRL! Do I blame Kevin for what happened in the NBA Lottery? How can I? It’s beyond his control.
Instead, I’ve followed him so much and have begun to appreciate what he has to offer the NBA that I can’t help but hope the best for him, even if that means he’ll be playing for another team (whether it be in Seattle, Oklahoma City, or Corpus Christi).
Thanks to NBA League Pass, I get to keep in touch with KD and appreciate everything it is that he has done for me over the past year.
Now imagine this typical guy-meets-girl-and-falls-for-girl-but-they-become-friends-instead story has a unique twist. You’re now without the girl who’s meant so much to you and know that she’s about to move on, but you’re still alone and confused.
Then, out of nowhere, two really amazing older girls come along. They’re both really into you and want to hang out and just "see where things go." Sure, it won’t last forever, and it might be a mess if things don’t go right, but you HAVE to go for it.
The odds are slim that it will work and the whole thing could blow up in your face at any moment, but it’s just too tempting.
Suddenly you’re faced with the realization that you’ve come out on top and couldn’t be any luckier. You’ve got a great opportunity in front of you, and who knows what could happen down the road.
College doesn’t last forever and neither does a term abroad. Even if she meets someone, odds are there’s still a shot somewhere down the road. If she meets a guy at Reed, at some point she’s bound to grow tired of his refusal to shower, the constant stench of reefer, and his insistence that Frisbee is a sport.
And if she’s the girl you met in college, well she might meet a nice cultured man, but again...the whole not showering issue will rear its ugly head again.
And you know what, it really doesn’t even matter. Because you’re happy with the friendship you have and the accidental situation that it’s led to in the meantime.
And that’s where I am now as a basketball fan.
Do I miss the mental image of Kevin Durant gliding in for a monster dunk with his green and white jersey flapping in the wind? Of course. Am I foolish enough to worry about this when I’ve got Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett suiting up alongside Paul Pierce every night? Definitely not.
You see, I’m happy with how things turned out. I can be excited for Durant because, quite honestly, the Supersonics (guys at Reed or in Europe) are such a mess right now that I’m not all that worried.
Even if he ends up never donning a Celtics uniform, it’ll be quite alright because I’ve come to terms with our relationship. Such an amazing basketball player might never have been meant for me and my team, but nobody can keep me from watching and appreciating what he has to offer the NBA throughout his career.
So, all I have to say to Kevin Durant is: It’s cool, we can still be friends.