Ted Green: Your guide to hating the Celtics
Well, it's on. Is it ever. Or should I say, it's back on again. The two words in basketball that say so much and mean everything. Heck, they define an entire sport.
Lakers and Celtics.
The NBA's two most storied franchises, two of the most famous organizations in sports history, with 32 titles between them, more than half of the 63 that the NBA has bestowed, meeting in the NBA Finals for the second time in three years and 12th time overall. This amazing, heated rivalry goes back 51 years, to 1959, Elgin Baylor's rookie year; that was the first time they met in the Finals with Bob Cousy's Celtics beating the Minneapolis Lakers, two years before the Lakers moved to L.A.
As a tribute to half a century of antagonism, antipathy, jealousy, mutual animosity and maybe, just maybe, the most grudging kind of respect that will never be acknowledged, but mostly because the Lakers' record in these colossal championship confrontations is an astoundingly embarrassing 2-9, we present today, as a public service to Lakers' fans the world over . . .
A Guide to Hating the Celtics!
We begin with two storylines, premises, really, that you must understand up front:
1) The Celtics cry. They cry more than Best Actress winners at the Oscars. They cry like every game is a wedding. Every time a call goes against them, there will be more tears than Kleenex can handle. They cry even after they have to dial 911 to mop up some fallen opponent who's been mugged and beaten within an inch of his life.
2) The Celtics also foul. They foul on every play. They foul everyone, from stars to scrubs. They foul as a strategy. They foul as a style. They foul as a tradition. They foul hard and they foul incessantly. They foul just for the fun of fouling. They probably foul their own bus driver on the way to the arena.
Now, so you can hate them properly and profoundly, here they are, the Boston Celtics:
No. 34, Paul Pierce: He is their best scorer and a load for anyone to guard, including Ron Artest. But the Celtics' captain flops more than a large-mouthed bass taking his last breath while dangling from a fishing line at the end of a pier. Every time Pierce shoots, he acts like he's been hit by a train. Usually, he hasn't been touched. Two years ago, he fell during the Finals against the Lakers and went off in a wheelchair. An actual wheelchair! Five minutes later, he was dropping three-pointers all over TD Banknorth Garden. He actually came back into the game with the music from "Rocky" blaring over the public-address system. Yo, Paulie, that was such a bad con job, Sylvester Stallone is a better actor than your are. If you'll be seeing him for the first time, you'll hate him before the first quarter of Game 1 is even close to over, guaranteed. And by the way, Pablo, your headband is usually crooked. [For the record: An earlier version of this post contained an inappropriate comment about Pierce relating to an incident in 2000 in which he was stabbed repeatedly. That comment should not have been published and has been removed.]
No. 5, Kevin Garnett: Last you may have seen him, he was goin' all Karate Kid upside the arms of Dwight Howard in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals. Hey, K.G., who's your instructor, Mr. Miyagi? Garnett is, or maybe was, a great player, Hall of Fame caliber, but once he joined the Celtics, he officially became annoying, arrogant and insufferable, like the rest of them. He is now impossible to root for in any manner. His emotional tearfest in the immediate aftermath of the Celtics' '08 Finals win over the Lakers remains today one of the truly legendary and awkward postgame microphone meltdowns. One more good cry, which is what you always expect from a Celtic.
No. 20, Ray Allen: This guy is one of the greatest jump shooters in basketball history. Totally clutch. And he may have the prettiest stroke ever. Money when it matters. He's also a heckuva nice guy, even though his momma stands up too much and looks like she's even cockier than K.G. I know I'm not giving you any reason to hate him, but never forget the overriding issue: that damn green uniform.
No. 43, Kendrick Perkins: This guy looks meaner than Cerberus, the three-headed dog who guarded the gates of Hades. You get scared just looking at his picture on Google images. He looks like he would shove his grandma in the middle of the back if it meant getting a rebound. Perkins has the offensive skill set of your average blacksmith or lumberjack. Instead, he does what can euphemistically be called a lot of the dirtywork for the Celtics, dirty being the operative word. He'll have six fouls by the second quarter, two of which are called. He is also a human moving screen. He sets the only pick in the NBA where the player is actually running full-speed into the man he's screening. This is very often not called a foul, just because he's a Celtic. He is prone to getting technical fouls, usually immediately after waking up in the morning.
No. 9, Rajon Rondo. This is the point guard who is faster than any Laker. He's an emerging star and acts like it, too. If he were any more conceited, he'd dribble with his left hand and carry a hand-mirror with his right. He preens more than TV news anchors. If he has a weakness, other than the villainous franchise he suits up for, it's his shooting. He has trouble making open five-footers in empty gyms, much less full arenas. Just remember this kid is, like, 8 years old and already as arrogant as the rest of them.
No. 30, Rasheed Wallace. This old grump has been an unmitigated pain since he came into the league. He has two emotions: angry and mad. The technical fine money he's paid could fund many third World countries. He's also at least 52 years old. In every game, bar none, he will a) commit the most obvious foul ever; b) cry to the ref and then, c) act like the whole world is against him. Which, in fact, it is.
No. 11, Glen Davis. They call this one Big Baby. Right on both counts. Right now he's about two Krispy Kremes shy of Stanley Roberts, who ate himself out of the league. If he and Perkins and 'Sheed and KG have 24 fouls between them, trust me on this, they will use all 72.
And now, in the names of Rondo and Hondo, plus the Jones boys, that hatchet, Tommy Heinsohn, the butcher Dave Cowens, that Rambis killer McHale and even Larry Legend and the infernal Cigar, Red Auerbach himself, the NBA Finals are still five days away and I already hate every one of them to pieces.
Green formerly covered the Lakers and NBA for the L.A. Times. He is currently Senior Sports Producer for KTLA Prime News.
Photo: Three reasons -- Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett -- to dislike that team from Boston. Credit: Adam Hunger / Reuters