Despite my lead quote, I have no intention of making this a religious post. The faith I want to talk about is about basketball - and in particular the Celtics.
We've been waiting for the playoffs all year. In fact, since the moment that Kevin Garnett decided to put off retirement and give it another go, we've had our eyes focused on getting back here to take another swing at the Heat and the rest of the league.
Having your eyes set on the horizon makes it a lot easier to ignore what's right in front of you. And the team that has been right in front of us all year has been mostly mediocre. With Rondo we were a .500 team but we figured they'd figure things out in time for the playoffs. They kinda did, but kinda didn't and then Rondo was gone. Then they kinda got better, then they kinda regressed to the mean. Kinda sorta. That's about all the season recap I can stomach because it wasn't a fun season and I don't want to talk about it ok?
Which is exactly my point. We're all fans and we want to see the best of this team. Not everyone goes about that the same way though. Every team has fans of all sorts that root for their team in any number of ways. That's part of the fun. If we were all rooting the same way, it would be pretty boring.
Now, toss in a team like this one, and even the most level headed fans find themselves tearing out their hair with bi-polar-like confusion. Paul Flannery puts it best.
That's a little hard to answer because we don't really know anything about the Celtics these days. On paper, this is a .500 basketball team missing key players. On heart and memory, they're a wounded, but proud team deserving of respect. We've seen this act too many times to write them off yet, but the vital signs ain't looking real good right now.
So on one side, you've got the fans that lead with their heart and only see the good in this team and believe until the bitter end (and then will find some excuse why it didn't work out). On the other side, there's the pessimist that sees everything wrong with this team and can't wait to tell you he told you so. And before you get all high and mighty, understand this: we all have varying degrees of both of these personalities in us. And of course it varies from season to season, or even game to game.
I consider myself a sickly sweet optimist but there are times when I see only pain ahead and other times when I can calmly remove myself from emotion and provide a somewhat objective analysis (not often, but sometimes). Sometimes I get a little bit of all of these sides multiple times within the same game!
At the end of the day, I'd rather go through life believing in my team and perhaps getting let down rather than not believing and being proven right. So to a certain extent, I'm a fool. I'm consciously choosing to have selective memory (in my heart, every buzzer beater Paul Pierce takes finds the bottom of the net). I'm picking my heart over my brain and in the past that's worked out pretty well for me. Like say last year and in 2010 and in every miracle comeback game that Paul Pierce has led us to victory in. So yeah, I'm a fool for the Celtics.
I'm not blind though. I see the odometer ticking on our stars. I know what our record was this year. I've seen the opponents take steps forward as we did the opposite. I get why people are worried and I'm worried too. I just ask for your patience with us optimistic-slanted souls. If we're going down, we're going down swinging, ...er, rooting, with all our might. On the flipside - I'll kindly ask my fellow fools to refrain from finger pointing and challenging fans' allegiance if they don't root the same way you do. Everyone roots their own way - there's no prize for being "best fan." (I checked)
Besides, they might just be right. Realistically our season ended when Rondo's did. It might have been a long shot before that. The Heat, in case you missed it, are really, really good. But I can't help it. I don't want to think with my brain. My brain threw up its hands (wait, my brain has hands? work with me here) the day that we found out Rondo was out for the year. My brain knew that this was a lost cause. However, my brain didn't quite know what to make of the fact that that same team it was giving up on just went out and beat the Miami Heat.
That game has pretty much been the anchor that my heart has relied on ever since. Through all the storms and the waves crashing against the hull of my heart (great, now my heart is a boat - I get lost in my own weird analogies sometimes) that game gives it hope.
To wit, logic didn't win that game, Jeff Green did. And that opens up a whole different can of worms. Regardless of this year's outcome, what do we do with next year? Is Jeff Green the star we can build around or is he just an occasional scorer that doesn't make you much better overall? At least one writer (Eric Freeman) believes the latter and bases that opinion on advanced stats.
I don't think it should be particularly controversial to say that Green is not a star, and that any team that uses him as its guiding light is virtually guaranteed to stay in the lottery for as long as it takes to find a legitimate top talent. Yet many Celtics fans remain convinced of Green's viability in this role, and one or two explosive scoring games in the postseason would do little to change their minds. That doesn't necessarily mean that Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers would follow suit, but it does suggest that Green could be presented as a better player than he is for the foreseeable future.
For me, I'm still in wait and see mode with Green. I don't think he's an A1 level star in the making, but I'm perfectly happy to be proven wrong (and I want to believe in him, but there's not as much history there as there is with Pierce or even KG). I do think he could be a key component on a Championship squad though, and I don't think that's asking for too much. Where to come up with that lead star in the post-KG/Pierce era is a whole other topic that we'll go into in great lengths here over the summer.
Now that's my wheelhouse - looking to the future and dreaming of the possibilities (and giving a few bits of unsolicited advice that I know that Danny Ainge will never read along the way). But our cart is a few yards ahead of the horses on that one. Let us see how the here and now plays out first, shall we? There's plenty of time for all that later.
Right here, right now, we've got 2 hall of famers, a good-to-great defense, and (in my opinion) an excellent coach and a whole lot of pride. That's got to be good for some fireworks this year, right? Or is that just my heart talking? If so, I'm listening.