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Pettiness, name calling, and the hypersensitive NBA

Are you not entertained?

Bush Meets Boston Celtics At White House Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Did you hear what he said about you?
Did you see what he posted on Facebook?
We should throw a party and not invite him.

Close your eyes and you can see any and all of these statements made in your local high school or middle school. In theory, we all grow out of that and realize that it is silly and hurtful to be so petty.

By now you’ve probably seen the clips from Area 21 where the cool kids at the table explain very earnestly why are graciously willing to allow Ray Allen to apologize to them as long as he makes the first step. I’m sure you’ve also seen the developing war of words between Draymond Green and various Celtics who are sticking up for “Dirty” Kelly. This comes at the end of a season where Russell Westbrook staged his own personal “revenge tour,” taking out his post-bro-divorce anst on the rest of the league.

To borrow a phrase from my teenage years: “I mean, like, what-ev-errrr.”

Forgive me if I’m not really entertained. Also, please forgive me, but I’m not really all that worked up over it either.

If Paul, Kevin, Rajon, Perk, and Baby don’t want to talk to Ray, cool with me. I can kinda-sorta see how people find that interesting (and as a blogger I do feel compelled to write about it, but even in doing so I feel like I’m feeding the beast that I’m not sure I want to be part of). Personally, I’ve long since accepted Ray’s decision and moved on, but I also get that many fans have not and never will. To each their own.

The “dirty” name calling is a little more currently relevant but I’m not sure how much difference it makes. Is Kelly Olynyk a “dirty” player? Ask any non-Celtic fan and they’ll probably say “yes” based on the Kevin Love arm-bar and a few picks that ticked off Kelly Oubre to the point of steamrolling him in a playoff game (nearly taking out an official in the process). Ask any Celtics fan and they’ll say that the guy is a big goof and is only capable of hurting someone by mistake. Neither side is going to budge on their subjective opinion largely because it serves their own narrative.

NBA players tend to use emotion as fuel and adrenaline enhancers. It is hard to get “up” game after game and any psychological advantage they can get is precious. Paul Pierce famously called out the names of all the teams that passed on him in the draft as he drained practice jumpers. Teams grow to “hate” each other in the playoffs all the time. Sometimes they turn around and become teammates of those same hated rivals (like, say, Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade on the Chicago Bulls of all teams).

Some of that is fun. Rivalries make the games interesting and amusing on some level. At the end of the proverbial day, sport is an entertainment business and some of the drama is manufactured and/or enhanced by those that profit off the storylines. Of course if taken too seriously, rivalries can also create unpleasant and unseemly conduct between players and fans alike.

Soon enough this day’s drama be forgotten in favor of the next gasp-inducing news cycle. Change the channel and you’ll see people getting a similar fix on Wrestlemania or soap operas or reality TV or even the national news. It is what it is and it will be that way as long as eyeballs are glued to the screen eagerly awaiting the next installment.

But whatever. How long till the next game?

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