Last night, the Celts got brutalized by one of the very worst teams in the NBA, falling behind by as many as 27 points before closing the gap to 10 in garbage time. The effort -- as it has often been this season -- was at times pathetic. Heading into halftime, the crowd audibly voiced its displeasure, serenading the team with boos as it left the court.
The reactions of this team's purported veteran leaders were markedly different. KG reacted as follows:
"No, I mean, we’re at home, man, and we look for our fans to give energy and to give us a spark when times are tough.
"It doesn’t help when the boos happen, but we’re a group of veterans and we are a team - a real team. You know, we’re not fair-weather. So when that occurs we all sort of just get together and say we’ve just got to grind this out. Through any type of adversity, you grip up and come together. I think that’s where your bond comes and is very much needed at that point."
This quote came on the heels of KG's classy "Then don’t come to the (expletive) games" quote as he walked off the court following the first half abomination. Maybe I'm misreading context here, but it sure appears that KG was juxtaposing his opinion that the team is "not fair-weather" with the fans' reaction. Here's a hint, KG: Calling the fans fair-weather isn't the way to endear them to you as you mail the season in heading into the playoffs.
Meanwhile, the Captain was much more sympathetic to the home crowd. Paul drew from his experience playing here when the Celtics were a lottery team, saying:
"I don’t think it’s anything different. When they booed us in the past it was because of effort. It wasn’t because we were a bad team. Because I’ve been on bad teams where they cheered us and they sold out and cheered us every night.
"So I think it’s all about the effort. Regardless if you win or lose, the fans want that effort. When you see the other team beating us to all the loose balls and we’re turning the ball over, I think that’s the things they see and they start to boo about. I don’t think it’s about missed shots and stuff like that.
"It definitely wasn’t our best effort."
Needless to say, I agree completely with Paul here. The Boston crowd is one of the NBA's best, and has supported this team through thick and thin. It's the fans who finance the enormous salaries of guys like KG, and they have the right to expect a sustained effort in the 30 or so minutes each of these guys are playing each night. If the crowd boos because the team is collectively playing like they're more interested in the Friday night club scene than they are in winning a game vital to playoff seeding, more power to the crowd.
To a man, the Celts need to ask themselves if they deserve to be cheered for their efforts last night, or for large parts of this season. It's a question of accountability, and if the organization isn't going to hold players accountable when they mail it in -- a topic for another day -- then that role rightfully falls to the fans. To all of the "fair-weather" fans in the home crowd, I say, "Boo on". If nothing else, it may bring some emotion out of the team, something that has been sorely lacking lately.