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On Boston’s (over)reaction

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It's been a couple of days, but it's still a topic of conversation among fans: did Boston celebrate a bit too much following their win against the Pistons? It seemed that way to those who watched the end of the game unfold. From Chris Sheridan's game recap for ESPN:

Quite a scene it was, the one Boston Celtics forward James Posey was making as the final seconds ticked off the clock.

"Thanks for coming," Posey yelled to the fans behind the visitors bench, using his loudest, most sing-songy voice.

"Adios! See ya," Posey said, mocking the Detroit Pistons' fans, pretending to wipe tears from his eyes. "What's the score?"

And to end it all, Posey threw in one more insult, intoning the "Deeeeee-troit basketball!" rally cry that Palace announcer John Mason has made his signature.

Happy with the win, James? Guess so.

Posey wasn't alone -- Paul Pierce was also seen doing similar antics, popping his jersey and gloating to the Palace faithful. The Pistons could see Boston's exuberance, and those who didn't were filled in by the media after the game fishing for a juicy response. For the most part, all they got was mild amusement. From my post-game blog on HOOPSWORLD:

After the game, Paul Pierce was seen celebrating the victory, telling the Detroit crowd that the Celtics were the best team in the league. When asked about Pierce's reaction, Chauncey Billups acknowledged that this game may have meant a little more to Boston than Detroit. "They're a little more happy than we was when we won our game out there," he said. "It was just like a regular game for us. Two good teams playing. They're kind of playing like it's the Super Bowl, man. It's just a regular game, two good teams playing. There's a little more at stake for them and their psyche than [for] us, but they won, it's cool."

Without context, Chauncey's answer might come across as arrogant, but I don't think it should -- it was a response to a specific question, not same random excuse offered up unsolicited. Will the Pistons view Boston's celebration as some kind of perceived slight that will fuel their emotions down the road? I doubt it, especially after reading Billups' comments to Keith Langlois of Pistons.com today:

"You know what (Boston’s reaction) is," Billups said. "It doesn’t linger. It’s not that big of a deal, but when a team reacts like that, you know how they look at you. That’s all."

For one, I honestly don't think most professional athletes take things like "celebrating too much" quite as personally as some fans or talk radio hosts imagine. I mean, this is real life, not some kind of WWF storyline. And like Chauncey says, isn't celebrating wildly after defeating someone actually a sign of respect? You didn't see the Celtics going nuts after beating the Grizzlies on Friday. Their reaction on Saturday clearly shows they view Detroit as a direct threat to their ultimate goal.

But players aside, part of what makes sports so much fun is the rivalry that exists not just between the players on the court but also between opposing fans. Should Pistons fans get riled up? Obviously that's a personal choice, but I tend to agree with what DBB reader Kyle said:

then again it was pierce and posey, one who’s desperate for attention and one who is just used to riding much better players to success (when not tackling them to the ground).

I like Pierce's game (how can you not?) but such celebration reeks of insecurity, which isn't all that surprising considering he's went from being the face of the franchise to second- or third-banana practically overnight. As for Posey, he's definitely a guy you can only cheer for if he's on the home team (if then). Players like that just don't elicit much of a response from me, and neither do the "crack staffs" of purposefully inflammatory blogs known for putting scrubs on pedestals. (They know who they are, and why they're getting no links from me.)

What I don't mind seeing -- and in fact actually enjoy, at least on some level -- is seeing intelligent fans from the other side celebrate without overreacting. From Jeff at CelticsBlog:

I'm happy that things are getting chippy between these teams. The Detroit rivalry is one we can build upon and learn from this year. You need some early season tests to see what you are made of. The Celtics are rightfully proud that they passed this test. That doesn't mean they think they are done or ready to be crowned champs. But they see the progress they've made in such a short time and they want more of it.

This win was sweet. We should all soak it in. Then we should get ready for more hard fought battles and hopefully more victories down the road. This team can play with and beat anyone. That's something to be proud of.

By now I'm kind of rambling, but replace "win" with "loss" and "sweet" with "tough" and that last sentence applies to Detroit, as well. The loss was disappointing, but the game was entertaining and the budding rivalry is definitely exciting. As a fan, you can't really ask for more.