Let History Get Smudged


Earlier today, I wrote the self-explanatory "Deconstructing Lakers-Celtics". My pal Paul Flannery shot me an email that extended that conversation and needed to be read by all. Plus I wanted an excuse to link to my column.

Paul covers the Celtics for weei.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @Pflanns.

Digging in a little deeper: Rondo is Cousy, the original weirdo point guard, who controlled the game with his speed and creativity as much as his traditional skills. It's telling that during Rondo's rookie season, when no one really knew what to make of him, the two people who called his greatness were Cooz and Tommy. They could see it. They knew.

As for Kobe, he would fit in perfectly around here. They admire his cold-blooded ambition and recognize it for what it is: no foolin' around while there's work to be done. I'm talking about the team. Let me put it this way: If you were to have a Kobe-LeBron debate in the locker room, you'd probably get more on the Kobe side. They are into results, not projections, and they're also oddly more into aesthetics than stats. It's not enough to be the best, they want it to be known. The fans would embrace Kobe once he made his first game-winner, but they wouldn't be so keen on the outward displays of frustration. That's a definite difference between the two cities, where one appreciates an emotive performance and the other just wants you to get your ass down the court. But they'd adjust and again, that's about place, not time.

On the racial component. Did you notice the C's don't have any Euros? Rather, they are basically an amalgam of black America: country, city, suburban, old heads, young bulls, Duke educated and products of public high school. They have a guy who prefers to do his networking on the golf course and another who's a holdover from the Revolution. A guy from Florida who never says anything and one from Seattle who never stops talking. Fittingly, Quis and Nate became fast friends. It's an underrated aspect of their success that they generally grant each other the space to make it all work. I'm sure the same could be said of the Lakers given their diversity.

What's curious to me is that the coaches are playing into the old stereotypes. Doc Rivers is basically saying that we're the Celtics and we're coming to take your lunch money. While Phil used the word "resilient" instead of tough and is throwing it out there that it would be cool if his team was allowed to play without getting beat up. That's certainly for effect, and there's a definite officiating component to all this, but it's also true that they're playing to their bases. To me, Doc is one of the most compelling people in this series because he has embraced his inner Celtic throughout the playoffs in ways that he hasn't done before. While not as enthralling as the FA summer, he is going to be the most sought-after coaching commodity on the market because no one here has any real idea what he's going to do after this is over. Phil has his admirers, of course, but Doc has TV and he's younger. He's not just good old Doc anymore. He's the blood and guts coach of the Celtics and that does still mean something.

The old Celtics-Lakers paradigm does make sense in one way. Doc and Paul Pierce are playing for their Celtic legacies in this series, while Kobe is playing for his Laker legend. That's where all the history is apt, but it's got little to do with what we're about to see.

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At 6/01/2010 4:07 PM, Blogger Two Ls in Cassell said...

great insight into the Cs locker room. Any way you could elucidate some more of these diverse personalities? I'm starved for this sort of info-- didn't know Marquis Daniels never talked!

Is there a team Kobe wouldn't fit into? 2009 Cavs is the only one I could come up with. And there's two sentences ended in prepositions... ugh.

At 6/02/2010 10:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

KG dubbed MD the Silent Assassain (I think it was KG).

Sadly, due to the concussion, dude might be altogether too silent for the series.

At 6/03/2010 8:15 PM, Blogger Octopus Grigori said...

Re your deconstruction of Lakers-Celtics: I put up a somewhat similar piece on the eve of the 2008 Finals.

Obviously, some things are different now. My hatred for Vujacic still burns bright, though. The presence of Artest on the Lakers confuses me, and confuses the dichotomy -- as you point out in your piece. He seems like such a departure for the "Lakers" (as we traditionally understand that term), just as the revelation of Rondo seems like such a departure for the "Celtics" (as those of us born post-Cousy generally understand that term).

Is Ray Allen Larry Bird? Or are Paul Pierce (iron) and Ray Allen (silk), taken together, Larry Bird?


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