Saturday , Jan , 26 , 2008 C.Y. Ellis

It’s All Fun and Games Until You Don’t Win a Championship: What the Boston Celtics and Phoenix Suns Have in Common

It's All Fun and Games Until You Don't Win a Championship: What the Boston Celtics and Phoenix Suns Have in Common

A while back, I wrote about how expectations play such a huge role in how one views his favorite team.  I can only imagine that the resurgence of a once great tradition (Boston) must be that much more enthralling.  However, the honeymoon’s over and the Boston fans have got to be wondering if their new spouse has a wandering eye for the pool guy.  At the end of the season, will the Celtics’ fan be saying, “It was great while it lasted” or “We’re number one!”?

I said the former after the Suns’ 2004-2005 season.  Steve Nash sounds like an old married man when he speaks of that team, “That’s forever gone. Now we have to be grown men and professionals and not euphoric souls.”  He was speaking of the adversity of this season and when asked about this season’s Celtics he said, “Been there, done that.”

“Wait!” you say, the Celtics are different because their “Big Three” are tested veterans with a desire to win.  You are right about Kevin Garnett (kind of like Nash, more about that later).  However, what in Ray Allen’s history makes one think he’s got anything close to the desire of KG?  Right.  Paul Pierce’s history (although not his game) is eerily similar to Shawn Marion’s – a couple of short playoff runs and some pretty solid seasons, earning All-Star nods and the respect of his fans, but always some lingering disgruntlement with the composition of his team and his role in it.  And then – bam! – another All-Star shows up and lift the team into the elite of the league.

The Celtics are “on pace” to win 68 games, but they are only 6 of their last 10, including three “come from ahead” losses and a one-point victory over the cellar-dwelling T-Wolves.  These guys make a good point and wonder about the “clutchability” of the Celtics.  The Celtics won’t win 68 games.  I wrote that at the beginning of the season, the Celtics were playing all-out like a pumped-up college squad. Well, let’s see what happened.  After the first thirty games they were 27-3.  After the end of the college season, they’ve gone 7-4.

The slow-down was expected, but what does it mean?  Are the old-timers catching their breath or has reality set in?  Currently, there are questions about the depth of the Celtics’ bench.  Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?  Charley Rosen must be listening to Charles Barkley.  A few more seasons like this without a title and Doc Rivers will have Boston fans clamoring for his job like some in Phoenix are starting to do with Mike D’Antoni.

As an Irishman, a Laker-Hater and an NBA fan, I want the Celtics to do well.  But, I’ve seen this before.  I have an eerie feeling my second-favorite team may be falling into the same trap as my favorite team.  The earmarks of a disappointing end are in place – including the battle-tested veteran team with a history of playoff greatness.