Guerschon Yabusele was many things in his time with the Boston Celtics - briefly intriguing as a prospect, obsessed for some time with dabbing, really into bucket hats, gregarious and fun even when the locker room around him devolved into chaos. But unfortunately for the Dancing Bear, he was never at any point during his tenure with the Celtics a particularly good NBA player nor did he appear to be on the track to becoming one.
And so Boston opted to part ways with their smiley, stout forward, waiving him before he even had a chance to complete his time with the team at the NBA’s Las Vegas Summer League. Such is life. The NBA is ruthless, and Yabusele demonstrated very little progress over the last few years. That the Celtics opted to part ways with him comes as no real surprise, but it makes the sting of losing a beloved member of Boston’s deep bench no less painful.
Yabusele was a source of joy and wonder for the Celtics’ fan base. He was endlessly happy on a roster that appeared to be openly miserable by the end of last season, endearingly portly in a sport dominated by sculpted athletes, and perhaps most importantly entirely unabashed. He was also terrible at defense, and for the most part offense as well. Yabusele’s presence on the roster never really seemed to make sense.
He didn’t contribute to winning. He didn’t appear to be developing in any meaningful way, and yet that only seemed to make his moments of success all the more enjoyable. The fans demanded Yabusele’s patented bow and arrow dab celebration when he splashed home threes because it felt like there was a chance it might not ever happen again. And now it won’t. At least not in Boston.
That’s likely to benefit the Celtics from a competitive standpoint, but it brings on an interesting mix of emotions. Sports are fun when fans connect with the players on the court. Sometimes that happens as a result of elite-level play. Sometimes it happens because - as in Yabusele’s case - your butt is so big it maintains it’s own gravitational pull.
Determining whom on the team to fall in love with is a fan’s prerogative, and it doesn’t always line up with the business or basketball operations side of things. Teams are incentivized to make personnel decisions with heartless efficiency. When winning championships is all that matters, kicking a failed prospect to the curb never will - no matter how endearing they may be.
That’s OK. Professional sports wouldn’t make sense if winning wasn’t the ultimate, but it’s trite to say that rings are all that matter to the viewing public. People want to route for teams they like. It’s why the Isaiah Thomas-led Celtics were so much more fun than the Kyrie Irving-led Celtics, even though the former unit’s chance of winning a title were far lower than the latter’s.
Boston - with its disrupted chemistry, general rudderlessness, and sniping in the media - was thoroughly unenjoyable to watch consistently last year. It is hoping to transform into a home for basketball joy once more this season.
Kemba Walker will help in that regard. So too will exits by the reported primary sources of interpersonal tension in the Celtics’ locker room. Yabusele won’t enjoy the increase in likeability likely to be the fruits of Boston’s off-season, despite being an anchor of happiness for fans since he joined the team.
He just wasn’t quite good enough on the court to stick. It’s an unfortunate reality of the NBA. Gone is Boston’s roly poly totem of Weird Celtics Twitter as a result, and so too the delight he brought to a significant portion of the fan base. It’s alright to be sad about it, even if it’s the right decision.