I read with some disappointment the negative fan reactions to Paul Pierce after the Knicks game. I saw words like classless. I saw unsportsmanlike. I saw a lot of reactions that I didn't agree with. And I felt strongly enough, albeit after the fact, to write this out. Basketball is not Baseball. It is not a game of individual events where jobs are so separated and specialized. These Celtics are not the Patriots who say little when they lose and less when they win. Doc does not love it, to be sure. That element of the game is something behind him now, something the younger men do, it looks like posturing and bravado. And maybe it is. Because Doc doesn't want to lose focus. Doc wants to maintain the objective, the general, the strategist, the mind. He doesn't want one player or one players actions to be bigger than the team.
But in my eyes everything Pierce has done and said is all about the team. His pride in his team and his confidence that he and his teammates are the best there is. Posturing and bravado are the acts of the weak that think they are strong. Paul Pierce grinning at the New York crowd had nothing to do with trying to hide his weakness. It was not the act of an insecure bully trying to convince everyone he's tough. It was the action of a warrior proud of himself and the men that had stood beside him in battle. And I'm okay with that.See, these Celtics are proud. And Paul Pierce is not afraid of inspiring the ire of other fans. He isn't worried about giving a team billboard material. The Boston Celtics are the best team in the East. Arguably the best in the NBA. They have all star caliber players at 5 positions. They have talent on the bench that other teams would envy as starters. Paul Pierce isn't afraid that some other team might be inspired to bring their A game. Because the A game of another team still isn't enough. They can be inspired. They can be shooting the lights out. They can be playing with passion and energy and the kind of driven success that comes from inspired anger. And still lose to the Celtics. Because some teams need that inspiration, that fire in the gut, that drive that comes from needing to prove your quality. The Knicks haven't had that of late. That team doesn't know what it's like to be Boston every game.
Paul Pierce isn't afraid of anyone's A game. He knows that won't be enough. There can be no tense final minutes of a blowout. No memorable, perfect, game winning blow of a step back jumper. Paul Pierce wants you and your team to find better than your A game for Boston. Because it isn't fun unless you make it interesting. It isn't real competition unless you're good enough to be in the fight. It's not the winning. That isn't the exciting part. The winning is the natural order of things. It's the struggle. The fight. The adrenaline of battle. That's the best part. Not "will I win?" but instead "isn't it going to be fun to see how I win this time." Won't it be exciting to find out how good I actually am because I need to be that good.
So go ahead Paul. Tweet. Smile. Quote. I'm not worried about what inspiration you give another team. Or what the fans of some other, lesser, franchise have to say about you. That's not important to me at all. Because whenever I get to watch the Celtics play, I know they're going to win. And the fun part is finding out how.