What Could Have Been

Back when there were book stores, I used to love to stand in the sports biography aisle and read about athletes. The books, whether they were ‘autobiographies’ (meaning, written with a journalist) or just written by the journalist, were always light, fast reads, and I could get most of the necessary details within about 30-45 minutes. Jose Canseco had a good one. Of course, Drive: The Story of My Life by Larry Bird was unforgettable for a few hours. Bad as I Wanna Be was not as bad as I wanted it to be.

Anyway, I remember reading one by Jack Tatum, the Oakland Raiders linebacker who paralyzed Darryl Stingley, a wide receiver for the New England Patriots, in an exhibition game. And what I remember from it was that he said the hit and the subsequent injury didn’t bother him. Wasn’t something he thought about, and he didn’t reach out to Stingley after. (If I’m getting the exact facts of what he said wrong, welcome to this blog.)

I thought of this while reading all the tweets of love and support for Paul George this weekend. The NBA is such a happy family these days. Its really nice to see. I feel horrible for what happened.

But not so horrible that I couldn’t start now thinking about ‘what if’s’ and the last lovable guys who never tweeted support for any player not on their team and couldn’t even be bothered to shake hands after losing a series. Yes, KG, Paul, and Rajon, with a bit of help from Kendrick and the other side nasty characters of the Celtics. Not Jesus because he left too early, and he was never mean enough to really fit in with this shady cast of characters.

The ‘what if’s’ involve where the Celtics would be right now if they hadn’t started rebuilding. I mean, Indiana is out of it. The Heat are only ok. The Cavaliers are still a Kevin Love trade away. Maybe the Bulls are ready for prime time. But wouldn’t the Celtics be looking like contenders for the eastern conference championship at this moment? Rondo would be trying harder, KG would be looking into better supplements, and the rest of characters would have the Celtics ready to be in the thick of things. Then, because they are in the thick of things, they get in the running for Kevin Love…(Ok, I know they wouldn’t be in the running for Love because they wouldn’t have the draft picks…)…or Pau Gasol or even Chris Bosh.

The point is, teams break up too fast, and Danny blew this one. That’s always the point, and its the point here. The Spurs are one example of why it works when you stay together–you never know when a young pup is going to emerge that will re-energize the veterans. And the Celtics are now the other example. They wouldn’t have won this past year, but they’d be in the running this year and we’d have another year of sell-outs, thrilling playoff series, and KG and the Truth throwback moments. Next year, we could finally build around Green, Rondo, and Fab Melo (or did he go to Brazil or something?). These moments are short and they are sacred, and Danny unnecessarily shortened them so that we can have a decade of 35 to 45 win seasons. Thanks, Danny!





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