The Boston Celtics are nowhere near the NBA Finals. After securing their worst season since 2007 – the year before Kevin Garnett came to town – Celtics fans have only recent memories of the team playing deep into June.
LeBron James and his Miami Heat, responsible for two of the last three playoff exits for the Celtics, still leave a spot of admiration mixed with a heavy dose of red blooded hatred for fans across the country.
Surely, Celtics fans could not muster up the will to root for James to win his third title in a row and third overall. Why would you want James to continue his ascent into the pantheon of NBA all timers?
With Kevin Love all but gone from the aimlessness that is the Minnesota Timberwolves, Celtics fans have been firing up the trade machine to see how they could get the young power forward to come to Boston. Love’s recent vacation/free agent tour to the city only feeds more fuel to the fire in getting everyone overly excited.
Owning the No. 1 overall pick (one of the biggest trade chips on the market), the Cleveland Cavaliers and owner Dan Gilbert have been promising a return to prominence ever since James made “The Decision”. The exact opposite has happened, despite being gifted their third No. 1 pick of the draft in the last four years.
The Cavs and their ultra-aggressive approach would certainly entertain the thought of trading the pick for Love, or perhaps they’re secretly waiting for an Akron native to rejoin the team he once spurned.
Yes, James holds the ability to enter into free agency this offseason via an early termination option with the Heat. Would another Heat championship cement his legacy in Miami and leave him wanting franchise status in South Beach, the same way Jordan, Bird, and Magic achieved with their respective franchises? In turn, would that make it more likely that Cleveland gets rid of the notion of James returning home, and instead turn their focus to acquiring Love?
It’s something that Celtics fans should at least ponder.
There’s two names, however, that quickly dispel the notion of A) James leaving Miami and B) James going back to Cleveland: Pat Riley and Dan Gilbert.
Along with Red Auerbach, Phil Jackson, and Greg Popovich, Riley is regarded as one of the godfathers of the NBA. A nine time NBA champion under various positions, Riley has built a model franchise down in Miami, using his prestigious status and the prospect of playing down in South Beach as one of the league’s top destinations to his advantage.
Why would Riley ever let the best player since Michael Jordan walk away in his prime years? Why would James risk his legacy so he could play in another market, particularly for a franchise that has been so unstable the previous few years, like the one in Cleveland?
On that note, there is little to no chance that James would want to return to Cleveland, with the biggest reason being the owner Gilbert. Gilbert has not apologized for, nor does he regret, sending the infamous letter to Cavs season ticket holders right after James bolted from Cleveland.
Since 2005, Gilbert has been in control over a floundering franchise. They recently fired Mike Brown again, after firing him three years earlier. They sold their souls for a playoff berth this season by trading for Luol Deng and Spencer Hawes, only to have Deng (coming from a professional organization in Chicago) be so disgusted with the lack of accountability on the team that it left them virtually no chance of resigning him this offseason. There’s a reason they’ve had three No. 1 picks in the last four years.
Basketball purists and Celtics fans alike should be pulling hard for the Spurs. Their passing is contagious, and they’ve somehow built and maintained an empire since Bill Clinton was running the oval office. Aesthetically, watching the Spurs is like watching a high powered sports car hum. It’s smooth, powerful, and each part is essential.
Another reason to pull for San Antonio is the quiet superstar; Tim Duncan. The greatest power forward of all time, Duncan has put together an impressive resume while remaining silent and focused on the greater good of the team for the entire duration of his career. In a league that gets a bad rap as selfish and self-promoting, Duncan has exhibited neither trait since he entered the league in 1997.
Disregard the noise surrounding Love and James, their potential departures from their organizations, and what it means for the rest of the league. James will most likely end up back in Miami, while only Love knows exactly where he wants to go.
Despite the rumors that persist, Love will be the one to determine where he ultimately wants to go to. Sacramento has already put it out there they would trade for Love without knowing if he would sign an extension, and it is unknown how Love would like playing in Cleveland.
Celtics fans should sit back, relax, and pull for San Antonio to succeed. In sports, and in the NBA in particular, we tend to focus on what’s not happening (ie: offseason speculation, upcoming free agency). Instead, focus on the actual game; a novel concept, I know.
Check out recent Celtics Beats podcasts regarding the Kevin Love rumors by clicking the audio player below: