Get ready for it. It is gathering like a sandstorm in the desert. Its so thick you can feel it. You and I may love this team with all our hearts, but the rest of the world certainly does not. This will be, hands down, the most hated NBA team in recent memory.
Fans of other teams have a long list of reasons why they are going to hate this team. Some of them are more reasonable than others. But really, how can you explain hate? It is what it is without reason. And let me pause here for a moment for a disclaimer. I am only using the word "hate" within the context of the sporting world. I hate the Lakers, but I'm sure most of them are very nice people. I just want those nice people to lose basketball games in the most embarrassing fashion possible so I can laugh and point at them.
And that is what the rest of the league's fans will want for the Celtics. Here are just a few general reasons why the Celtics will be hated.
Success: Everyone loves a winner... until they win too much. And when the winner is stepping on your team's neck, it makes it awfully hard to continue loving them. Step on enough necks and you become a bully. Everyone loves knocking a bully down a few pegs, even if it is only in their daydreams (or on anonymous message boards).
Jealousy: Similar to the previous point. Everyone hates Duke but everyone wishes their team had the kind of sustained success that Duke had over the last couple decades.
Northeast Bias Backlash: Everyone hates that the Yankees and Red Sox dominate the news. The Patriots (now the epitome of hated teams) don't help matters either. The Celtics, once they won their 16th banner, got lumped right in with all those teams that the rest of the country hates to hear about over and over again.
Ok, enough generalities. Lets talk specific people here. There are plenty of personalities for other fans to hate on this team. From the top, right on down the list.
Kevin Garnett - Somehow, KG went from being a lovable loser to despised bully. A few years back, everyone was pulling for to get a good team around him. Now that he has one, he is reviled. I've been a fan of his for many years, and honestly I don't see the difference. He's always howled, growled, stared down opponents, talked incessantly, goaltended dead ball shots, and crawled on all fours. He just did it in Minnesota on teams that couldn't get out of the first round. I can see how he would be hated, I just wish people were a little more consistent (or at least honest about why they hate him). By the way, it is nice to see that KG is already in mid-season hatable form, messing around with Yi in the 3rd preseason game.
Paul Pierce - He's a trash talker who had some maturity issues earlier in his career and was blamed for everything that went wrong with the first Team USA failure. He also had the nerve to hear a pop in his knee, take precautions by being taken to the locker room, and when he was cleared to play, come back on the court and knock down a couple of 3 pointers. Nobody's ever properly explained to me what he would have gained by "faking" an injury like that, but whatever.
Rajon Rondo - At first he was a rookie in over his head. Then he was actually really fun to watch. Then the Bulls series happened. A tomahawk chop to a guy twice his size and a pro-wrestler move on Hinrich later, and all of a sudden he's the poster boy for the short-man's complex.
Kendrick Perkins - Perk has come a long way. He was a wide eyed rookie that the Pacers picked off the end of the bench to brick a couple of key free throws. Now he's using those same eyes to stare down Dwight Howard and scowl at refs. He's one of the team's most outspoken proponent for "team ego," which makes some other players and fans take exception with what he says and does. They see him as the Ringo Starr of this team and they wonder why he wasn't talking so tough when the team was losing.
Rasheed Wallace - Honestly, does this really need any explanation? Sheed was at the top of my hate list. I have a feeling that he's going to be one of my favorites by the 2nd week of the season.
And the list goes on:
- Glen "Big Baby" Davis - Between his nickname, weight, and the crying incident, he's an open target.
- Bill Walker - Got scrappy with LeBron, McGrady and others as a rookie.
- Eddie House - Over the top emotional, especially when we're ahead.
- Brian Scalabrine - Nobody likes getting beat by a guy that looks like him.
If you want, you could even throw in Doc Rivers (longtime target of Bill Simmons) and Danny Ainge (once called a "snake" by Antoine Walker).
The bottom line is that this team isn't going to win many sportsmanship awards or popularity contests. They are going to swagger onto the court, stare the other team down, get in their ears, get in their heads, feed off the home crowd, feed off the boos on the road, and most importantly ....win.
Kinda reminds me of another guy that was actively hated around the league. His name: Red Auerbach.