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He’s our guy.

April 26, 2009

Where did the month of April go? Is anyone else wondering the same thing?
The temperatures are considerably warmer, the days longer, people walk with an extra spring in their step, and people generally look happier. Most would imagine these things are happening because of the change of seasons, but it’s not– it’s happening because the Celtics are in the playoffs.

Seriously.

Well, no, not really seriously. People are happier in Boston because it was 80 freakin’ degrees outside yesterday and looks to be about the same today. With the nice weather, I took to my first game on the playground hoops right down the road. I’ve been pampered with playing pick-up games at my school gym during the winter, but was very much looking forward to the “outdoor” season starting up. I am familiar with this court because it is a “full” outdoor court where lots of mid-twenty and mid-thirty somethings congregate to relive past glory (myself included, of course). Today, it was five guys plus me. More specifically, it was 2 bigs, 3 mediums, and me. I’m a big fan of splitting up teams by sizes to help for match ups, but these guys wanted to shoot for it.

What’s the etiquette here? I usually won’t throw a shot to avoid being on a team because I think that is about 100% lame, but I thought about it. The first two guys to make their FTs were the 2 medium guys and I was next to shoot. I had a semi-reconnection with my old “Choose Your Adventure” books that adorned my childhood bookcases: “Choose to make your shot and it will be an epic battle of small guys versus big guys where your only chance to win is hit every shot and pray for long rebounds” or “Choose to miss your shot on purpose and help balance the forces on both sides.” I chose option 1 because I didn’t want to be “that guy” but clanged the ball hard off the rim. The next guy to shoot was one of the bigs and he drained his shot. Teams were made.

In the first game, we played by 1s and 2s to 15. Our team won 15-7. I had 11 of the 15 points simply due to the fact that I was easily slashing to the hoop and making all of my shots from within 5 feet (layups and floaters). The remaining 4 points were kickouts when they double-teamed me.  After the first game, the opposing team cried for a rematch and we obliged. They had a new strategy: when I got to the paint, take my arm off. One of their bigs would slide over and just hack-away. He will now be known as “sledgehammer” for the rest of this post. This happened on a few consecutive plays, and because this was pick-up basketball with guys that I’ve never met before, I chose to change my game: kick the ball out earlier after penetrating, take some outside shots (I remind you that I have an absolutely miserable outside shot unless I am wide open and aligned straight up with the hoop), and generally just not taking the ball into the paint as much. Since I have no depth to my game, removing me from the paint meant I became a bystander that touched the ball every now and then. The other team won the second game 15-10. After the hard fouls, I was hesitant to take it in and for good reason: I wanted to be able to have and use my arm after these pick-up games. We decided to play a 3rd game to decide the supreme ruler of the universe. We won easily because our opponents were pretty toast and we were much more conditioned– we got offensive boards, we could go after loose balls, our legs had lift for shots. 15-6.

We thanked each other for playing, and I walked home thinking about how much of an ass their guy was for trying to amputate my arm anytime I was within 10 feet of the hoop.
When I arrived home, I put on the Hornets/Nuggs game. I watched James Posey toss Chris Anderson (I think it was Anderson?) to the ground on a blatant flagrant foul (flagrant #1, in case you were wondering). Then I had a mental replay of all the times Posey has done similar acts of violence or just being a general ass while wearing a Hornets uniform (like throwing the ball back at the refs feet that gave him a one game suspension at the tail end of the season). And I actually said out loud: “What a jerk.”

Between sledgehammer and James Posey, I started to think more about whether or not I’d want those types of players on my team.

But then the big question came to mind: what if he was still doing all of this again in Celtics green? Obviously I would think it was still a flagrant foul and unnecessary, but would I think he was a jerk? Would I give him that label if he was still in green? Probably not. This is obviously a double-standard, but whatever. It falls into the realm of the “He’s Our Guy” clause. I’m giving credit to this clause to my buddy Sean even though I know Sean didn’t make it up, but he and I talk about this so frequently that it’s as if he did make it up.

This is why you cheer for a team: to give them unconditional love and to be given the right to be blinded by that love. The team can do no wrong…

Why do we not hate Pierce for talking trash that he claims he’s the best player in the league and better than Kobe? Because He’s Our Guy. Why do we turn the other way after Perk attempts to decapitate guards that make it into the paint? Because He’s Our Guy. Why do we not laugh when Rondo is on the ground for 5-7 minutes screaming in pain only to return to the court and to form shortly after? Because He’s Our Guy. Why do we not cringe that Ray takes cheap shots at other peoples’ junk? Because He’s Our Guy. Why do we not create an uproar when KG pulls his antics like crawling and barking at other players? Because He’s Our Guy.

Um. What?

Um... woof woof?

I hope all of these guys continue to do things that piss off the rest of world but show us how good this 2008-2009 Celtics team really can be and to remind us of the stuff that matters: confidence (Pierce and his comments), intimidation (Perk), toughness (Rondo), standing up for yourself (Ray), and attitude (KG).
They’ll need all of this to pull out a hungry Bulls team in game 5 this afternoon.

Back to the question, would I want guys like sledgehammer and Posey on my team?
You bet, because they’d add the little things to help us win.

Hey, they’d be our guys.

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