Thunder: Celtic fans had to watch with dismay
Watching the Thunder-Memphis game Tuesday night, I suddenly felt very sorry for Boston Celtic fans. And here’s the reason. Boston fans know better.
Celtic fans know how games are won and lost. They’re slightly more developed than, say, New York Knickerbocker management. Celtic fans understand basketball. So they had to be dismayed at watching Kendrick Perkins playing for Oklahoma City and Tony Allen playing for Memphis.
Perkins and Allen were instrumental parts of Boston’s 2008 NBA title team. Those Celtics (and heck, the current Celtics) were known for superstars Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce, plus tough point guard Rajon Rondo. But those Celtics were spiffy. They were tough. They were hard-nosed. They were rugged.
And nobody embodied that ruggedness more than Perkins, the Gran Torino center, and Allen, the sixth man and defensive specialist.
Boston eventually traded Perkins to Oklahoma City (last winter, because the Celtics were convinced they couldn’t afford Perk) and let Tony Allen go in free agency in summer 2010. Allen signed with the Grizzlies.
It’s no coincidence that both Perkins and Allen had huge impacts on their new teams. Perk brought a defensive mentality immediately to the Thunder, even though his knee wasn’t healthy. This year, his knee is healthy, and the Thunder defensive mentality continues. OKC is an NBA title contender with Perkins. Meanwhile, Allen arrived in Memphis, and the Grizzlies had a breakout season, making the playoffs and upsetting the top-seeded Spurs in the first round of the playoffs before taking OKC to seven games in the Western Conference semifinals.
Tough, blue-collar, hard-hat ballplayers. That’s what Perkins and Allen are. Maybe the best post defender in the league, and one of the best wing defenders in the league. The Celtics could use them both. Boston still has its stars. But Boston does not have legitimate title hopes.
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