My hostility really began in earnest when Red Auerbach fleeced Dick Vitale in the M.L. Carr fiasco, which resulted in Detroit giving up the first round draft choices that eventually netted the Celtics Robert Parrish and Kevin McHale. And essentially set up their decade-long dynasty.
The next decade of competition between the Pistons and Celts simply built on that initial outrage.
And when they traded for the insufferable Kevin Garnett, the biggest coward/bully in the league, a few years ago, it was very easy to re-kindle that long-festering hostility.
So, I've long hated the Celts. But I have to admit that I've actually found myself rooting for them lately. Not routinely, mind you, but selectively.
Last night was one of those times. While watching the Celts dismantle the Heat, there was no question about my loyalties. I was fully, openly rooting for the Celtics to win.
Certainly, it helped that they were playing the Heat. What is truly amusing is that both team are so accustomed to getting the benefit of the ref's whistle that the players often don't know how to react when the refs don't bend over backwards to give them a favorable whistle. And it is easy to hate the Heat when Lebron travels and Lebron bashes other players in the head and generally runs around like a jumbo-sized, spoiled toddler who is accustomed to never being disciplined by the refs. And Wade flailing around, throwing his body and legs and arms into defenders and then confidently walking to the free throw line. The level of expectation, that everyone will simply bend to their will is incredible. And anyone, even the Celts, who can put that Heat arrogance in check, is to be admired and cheered.
In fact, I know the exact moment when I crossed the line and actually rooted for the Celtics to win a game. It happened in the Heat/Celtics game a couple of weeks ago. Avery Bradley blocked a Dwayne Wade shot so thoroughly, so completely, in a way that brought to mind some of Dennis Rodman's best stuffs, that I literally turned the sound on and started to pay attention to a game that had previously been flickering, silently, in the background. From that point on, I actually rooted for the Celts to beat Miami that afternoon, and I actually set aside time to watch the game last night, hoping for a repeat Boston thumping of the Heat.
So, yes, my sin is exposed. I was briefly a closeted Celtics fan and now, I am outing myself. I rooted for the Celtics and I will probably root for them during the playoffs this year.
They are a gritty, defensive team that plays a lot like the old Detroit teams that have won titles. The years and injuries have reshaped Garnett. He's no longer the otherworldly, athletic freak who uses his length and physical advantages to dominate. Now he's a smart, gritty, rebounding defensive center who plays a lot like the old Bill Laimbeer. Pierce and Allen are still quality players but no longer the superstars of 3 or 4 years ago. Rondo and Bradley and Brandon Bass are all blue collar guys who would have fit in well on any of the old Bad Boys teams.
Pistons' fans are unfortunate this year. We won't have a hometown team to root for, but as a fan, it's not unusual to latch on to some team for the duration of a season's playoffs. My playoff team last year was Dallas, because of the Carlisle connection. This year, it'll probably be the Celts, as crazy as that may be. I never imagined that I would ever, ever root for a Boston's Celtics' team, but here we are...
Watching Avery Bradley stuff that Dwayne Wade shot back down his throat jarred something in me and I haven't been the same since. Yes, as amazing as it is...I am rooting for the Celtics. For now...