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Why Celtics Fans Should Love “The Decision,” Part I


If you’re like me, you were sick of “The Decision” before it was even made. The hype of the last two years all collapsed into a 24-hour revolving door of rumors with no validity and endless speculation. “The Decision” came, it went, and I couldn’t be happier it’s finally over.

Cleveland feels betrayed, okay I get it. I’d feel the same way, but in all honesty I couldn’t care less about the city of Cleveland, or the fans for that sake. They actually seem like a pretty hate-able group, on par with a bunch of puking-on-children Philly fans.

I don’t speak for everyone from Boston, but it seems as though LeBron has never been too popular in this area, and this poetic display of hubris really substantiated all of those preconceived notions about this guy.

This is neither here nor there at this point. The most relevant issue that arises from “The Decision” now that it’s said and done is the fact that these three signings make the Miami Heat really, really good.

It’s no secret that the Celtics’ window of opportunity to win an NBA-record, eighteenth NBA Championship is quickly closing. Actually, with about six minutes left in Game 7, and that 13-point lead quickly dwindling, The Big Three’s tenure in Boston looked all but over.

After coming out in Game 2 of the Finals and shooting the lights out, Ray Allen couldn’t buy a bucket the rest of the way, and looked to be dragging his old legs into free agency.

Paul Pierce, armed with a player option in his contract, looked poised to cash-in on a contract one more time before the conclusion of his career.  Pierce was due to make $21 million, but with the future collective bargaining agreement up in the air, it’s rumored that a max contract could be lowered to somewhere in the vicinity of $11 million starting in the 2011-2012 season, meaning he could’ve made $21 million next season, but only $11 the following year, so instead of having to play five years to make $60 million, he now only needs to play four at $15 million per.

This is all besides the point. The Boston Celtics looked to be on the verge, at least in my mind, of rebuilding around Rajon Rondo. Pierce and Allen walk and sign elsewhere, and while that money wouldn’t have been technically freed up, they could’ve begun rebuilding on the fly.

I was feeling pretty good about the Celtics chances, of course until “The Decision” where, at first instinct I decided that Lebron may have all at once, stabbed the city of Cleveland in the back, and pulled the plug on the Celtics championship life-support. After giving it the weekend to digest, I’ve scraped together somewhat of an optimistic list for us Celtics fans. I swear, it’s really not all doom and gloom come the 2010-2011 season, a guide to help you sleep better knowing the current state of the NBA, an Ambien if you were.

Call me a homer, call me skeptical, hell, call me naïve, but without further ado, here’s my top ten reasons Celtic’s fans can take solace in the fact that LeBron “decided to take his talents to South Beach.”

1. The Concentration of Power in the Eastern Conference

When James decided to join Miami, who already had an agreement in place to re-sign Dwyane Wade and to sign Chris Bosh, LeBron instantly eliminated a would-be contender in the East. Sure, he created a juggernaut down in south Florida but, think about it.

The Cavaliers as currently constituted will be lucky to win 25 games next season; there’s your 2009-2010 one seed. The Knicks, with the addition of Amare Stoudemire and Raymond Felton already look better than they have in at least six years, but without the addition of James, you can discount their inclusion into any championship talks. The Bulls picked up Carlos Boozer, and had they added James they would be in the championship conversations. (No I don’t want to hear how good the Bulls are going to be. They went 41-41 in the East last season, with their team intact for more or less the entire season. How many more wins can the addition of Carlos Boozer possibly add? Ten?) The Nets without James, well I look forward to hearing from Mr. Prokhorov next draft lottery.

With James, every single one of these teams would be in the championship conversation, without him, not so much, while the Heat would’ve already been in the conversation with a core of Bosh and Wade. Honestly, you could throw him on any one of those rosters and you’re looking at a better team than Cleveland the last two years, who won more than 60 games.

2. The Other Guys

As currently constituted, the Miami Heat have seven players on their roster. Wade, Bosh, James, Mario Chalmers, Udonis Haslem, Mike Miller and Zydrunas Ilgauskas. They have three unsigned second-round draft choices in Dexter Pittman, Javaris Vanardo, and Da’Sean Butler, who’s coming off of major knee surgery. The roster kind of speaks for itself.

Everyone’s been talking about how full of goodwill Bosh, Wade and Lebron are for “taking less money for the good of the team.” Over the course of these guy’s six-year contracts, they’re forfeiting all of $14 million dollars each total. You’re looking at a sacrifice of $2.3 million a year over the span of six years.  In a miraculous turn of coincidence, this actually what they would’ve been giving up in income taxes in New York, New Jersey, and Ohio (Yes, Florida has no income tax).

The real kicker is, Chris Bosh will be making more in endorsements than he could’ve ever dreamed of playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs or whatever they’re called, so there’s no doubt he’s getting substantially more money for coming down to Miami. James’ and Wade’s selling power being combined for near everything and anything in the Florida area, they’re bound to make just as much, if not more next season had they been in Ohio or Illinois making max-contracts.

The real sacrifice came from Mike Miller, who joined the team early this week. Throughout his career hes been overpaid, especially of late with the Timberwolves and the Wizards, but from a percentage standpoint Mike Miller is taking the biggest hit out of all of these guys. Sure, he could have headed to another loser and lost another 50-60 games, but hes taken his licks and earned his money, so he obviously feels it’s time to win a ring.  No endorsement money for poor Mike, he’s actually taking a pay cut to win a championship, unlike the Tripod of Fraud.

We all know what Haslem is at this point, there’s no upside to his game, at best he’s a middle of the road, undersized center, but he presents some good help to this group. He seems selfless, as he accepted less money to re-join the Heat, and he’ll be a big help to Chris Bosh, who apparently refuses to guard centers. Yeah, exactly. A max contract four who is so humble he can actually refuse to guard fives. Somehow I don’t think that’s a good omen.

Apparently Jerry Stackhouse is still alive? And continues to play basketball? He’s interested in riding Dwyane Wade’s coattails to the promise land, for whatever that’s worth.

I can spew on and on about how good the Celtic’s bench was when they won in 2008, there efforts were invaluable to the success of the team. In all honesty, their efforts were a little overstated (Enough for New Orleans to grossly overpay James Posey.) but the Celtic’s probably wouldn’t have won without House, Posey, and PJ Brown. Mike Miller a good start, as well as Mario Chalmers and Haslem, but watching James, Wade and Bosh haul Jerry Stackhouse’s dead body over the mountain of 48 minutes a night, for a 100-plus games next season like donkeys may actually be pretty entertaining from my armchair.

3. Match-ups

Matching up with these guys in a series is no small feat, and for me trying to tell you that the Celtics match-up well against the Heat would be an insult to your intelligence.

But I’m gonna try to justify it anyways.

  • PG: Rondo – Chalmers
  • SG: Allen – Wade
  • SF: Pierce – James
  • PF: Garnett – Bosh
  • C: Perkins/Jermaine O’Neal – Haslem

To be honest, looking at it on paper, it doesn’t look that bad does it? You have a 2003 All-Star team with Rajon Rondo, versus the starting lineup to the 2011 Eastern Conference All-Stars. Kind of an interesting storyline.

I mean you have to give the Celtics the nod at PG and C. Heck Jermaine O’Neal is our backup center and he was logging serious minutes over Haslem last season. Sure, Wade, James and Bosh are still in their primes, maybe James hasn’t even reached it yet (scary thought) but as far out as next season, I don’t hate the matchup. Maybe I’m in denial, and perhaps I’ll feel differently when I see the product on the court, and they’re drubbing the Celtics, but right now, as of this moment, I honestly don’t feel too bad about it. James and Wade are a handful, there’s no doubt about that, this is where the loss of Tony Allen is really going to be felt matching up against these guys. On a given night, even in their old age, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce, with a little help from the bench, can hold Wade and James to a poor shooting percentage. There’s no doubt these guys are going to get their points, but if the Celtics can make them inefficient in doing so, that’s really all you can ask.

The wild card in all of this is Chris Bosh. Pundits on ESPN would have you believing this guy is a perennial first team All-NBAer. He’s good, but since when does posting 20 and 10 for an awful team, and playing next to no defense put you in the stratosphere of guys like Wade, James and Nowitzki? What about David Lee? Or Amare Stoudemire? It’s more than fair to say both of those guys are just as good, if not better than Chris Bosh. Another year back from his injury, Garnett will more than be able to hang with Chris Bosh, not to mention he’s going to be in a diminished role, playing background noise for LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. That matchup won’t make or break any given game with these guys, but it’ll really narrow the Heat’s offensive, and defensive options.

4. The never-ending pressure facing the Heat

I know it’s a lot to expect, but is this team ever going to be the underdog? MAYBE against the Lakers, espescially if they don’t get some size up front. Not only the local media, but you have to think the national media is going to handle every single loss with the severity of a football season.  Mark my words, every loss will be the lead into Sportscenter, and the wins will go by the wayside.

So with the mindset that they’re the better team every night out on the floor, over the course of the 82-game season, that in itself can wear a team out. Not only throughout the season, but the expectations for this team should be nothing less than a championship.

I’m personally excited to see how this team is going to handle the heat underneath the microscope, day in and day out all winter. Personally, I think it might get a bit toasty in Miami this winter.

5. If and when this team implodes

I know I’m not the only one with a little bit of Bucknasty in me.

As sports fans we love to hate, and after last week’s events, who’s going to be more fun to hate in the NBA? The “alleged rapist” out in LA is old news, and frankly at this point in time he can’t hold a candle to “Miami Thrice” or “The Three Kings.” Those names alone make me hate them all the more.

Everywhere outside of New England loved watching the Patriots choke on it in 2008, and most of them didn’t have any allegiance to the Giants. Think of it. We actually have a horse in this race as fans, so you know its going to be a blast watching this team get knocked off, no matter who’s doing it.

About Robert McLeod

Robert McLeod Stats: Age: 22 Gender: Male Favorite Sports: Baseball, Football, Basketball, Hockey, Soccer, Fantasy Sports Favorite Boston Players: Dustin Pedroia, Jon Lester, Wes Welker, Jerod Mayo, Tuuka Rask, Rajon Rondo Other Hobbies: School, Wiffleball, Snowboarding, Madden, Call of Duty, Movies, Sports Radio Contact: robert at Bob Rodgers made me the man I am today. Hopefully I'm the first, and the last to ever utter those words. Before jumping on the bus to school, watching the old SportsDesk hosted by Bob was as necessary as brushing my teeth and eating breakfast. Since those early mornings, I've loved everything about Boston sports. Currently, I'm a senior Journalism major at UMass-Amherst and hope to be graduating this May. I began my college career as a business major at UMass Dartmouth, and realized I hated everything about accounting, debits, credits, my professors bow-tie, and everything inbetween. So I decided to pursue my passion, and write about sports for a living.

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