Celtics Are Em-PATHETIC

The Celtics are nice guys who don't know what it really means to be nice. They have the mistaken notion that it means letting your opponents win. It doesn't. PLAY KENDRICK PERKINS.

The problem with the Celtics is that they are a bunch of very nice guys but they don't know what it really means to be nice. They each want to be liked and respected, not just by their teammates and fans, but by opposing players, coaches, and GMs. They want everyone to like them.

That is not a bad thing. Let's not go into the military analogies. Basketball's just a game and who knows which team you'll be on tomorrow? (Do you make a habit out of burning bridges with your suppliers, clients, or competitors?)

But in the business world, nobody loses to a competitor just to get the competitor to like them. You don't see Microsoft's Bill Gates withdrawing from the database software market to get on the good side of Oracle's Larry Ellison. Yet the Celtics are doing just that.

They lose to the Sixers because patrolling their sidelines is former Celtics head coach Jim O'Brien, who is essentially universally well-respected and well-liked by his players. They want, perhaps subconsciously, to be liked by him so much, they go ahead and drop two games to him, including their season opener at home in Boston.

They lose to the Indiana Pacers because one of the two greatest Celtics of all time is the GM there. They lose not only when Jermaine O'Neal is coming off the bench, but also when the team is depleted after the brawl.

They lose to the Cavs because every fan on earth likes LeBron James and who wants to be known as the bad guy when compared to James?

Fortunately for Celtics fans there is no love lost between the Celtics and Portland, Seattle, New York, or the expansion Charlotte team. Otherwise the green would have no wins at all.

It's nice that they're nice. It really is. As a fan I'd rather have players I respect on my team than athletes who I don't.

Here comes my only public comment about the brawl: If it had been Celtics doing what the Pacers did, I would stop being a fan. Into the stands? Against the fans? Disgusting.

So it's not that the Celtics need to be evil or even apathetic. Nice is fine. But you have to understand what it means to be nice!

Nice is not communism. Nice is not, let's everybody give our best effort and who cares what the score is!

What does it mean to be nice, to be decent, when dealing with other adults? It means to be fair and just. So what is justice?

Justice is certainly not pity or giving awards to the party you like most. Justice is a lofty, perhaps not fully definable goal, but one thing's for sure: you have to be looking to win.

"Justice, justice you shall pursue." This famous phrase from the Torah is commonly interpreted to mean that not only must you pursue justice, but the path by which you pursue it must be just. It is a burden on YOU to make sure that inferior competition doesn't beat you. Because that would be unjust.

I don't believe the Celtics lack the talent to beat the Sixers or the depleted Pacers or any of these other teams. These should all be blowouts.

The Celtics need to realize this is their destiny calling. They will have to beat some nice people along the way, and they should be happy about it! The best way to really respect your opponent is to beat him.

If you had a chance to go one-on-one with Paul Pierce, wouldn't you give it your all? Wouldn't you look to win, even if it's a meaningless game of horse? Or would you throw up bricks in order to get him to "like" you? What kind of liking is that anyway?

For life, for business, and for basketball: being nice means being a freedom-lover. Competing at your highest level is a form of justice, and is a duty on you.

I had thought that the best example of this type of player on Boston's squad would be Kendrick Perkins. The self-titled "Beast of the East" looks to rough it up in the paint and doesn't back down from anybody. He's not a Rodman-esque character picking fights, but he holds his ground. He is a proud man who is ALWAYS looking to win, regardless of the opposition.

But it seems that he hasn't asked his coaches what he needs to do to get playing time, saying that his approach is to always be ready and let them decide. There's something admirable about that stance. I am not certain it's the wrong approach. But sometimes your teammates need to get pointed in the right direction and when you see injustice, you need to speak out.

If no one on the Celtics is doing it, then allow me: PLAY KENDRICK PERKINS.

Doc Rivers has seemingly buried all the 2003 draft picks. Marcus Banks played only because Delonte West was injured. Now Banks's minutes will dwindle too. Perkins barely gets off the pine.

Yet Perk is tailor-made for Doc's Sacramento/Princeton-style offense. He passes out of the post. He rebounds, on both ends of the floor. He provides help defense as well as legitimate one-on-one big man defense. If Rivers continues to let him rot on the bench and he gets traded away to become the next Ben Wallace, whose head do you think Celtics fans will be calling for?


Last year, on an admittedly statistically insignificant sample, Perkins was second in the league, behind only Kevin Garnett, in versatility (points times rebounds times assists) per minute. He can do it all, and he can do it very effectively.

Play him 10 minutes a game and you'll see the same thing that happened when Brandon Hunter finally got some decent minutes last year: not only will Perk's numbers impress you, and not only will the team go on a winning streak, but he will make his teammates better. Everyone will rebound better, set better screens, and pass the ball around according to the offense.

Kendrick Perkins is a special player who is being buried for the silly, unfortunate fact that Rivers wasn't around to agree to draft him. Yet he's Doc's guy now. And it's up to the head coach to get the most from the assets he's dealt. Use him or lose him.