In a rivalry that has materialized into one of the premiere match-ups in the NBA this season, it looks like the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics will have to suspend the contentious thoughts for at least one Sunday afternoon. This weekend, as you are surely aware, is the NBA All-Star Weekend, the halfway marker (or really the 3/4 point) of the NBA season. The Western Conference All-Star Squad is packed with players from a slew of different franchises. Ten of the Thirteen elected players are from different cities, with the only overlaps coming in LA and San Antonio, most commonly viewed as the two best teams in the Western Conference. The East, however, is far less diverse. Of the twelve players voted in by fans and coaches, seven of them are from only two different teams. You guessed it… the Celtics and the Heat. Bosh, Wade, and James will be taking their collective talents from South Beach to Los Angeles in a clash, or rather a joining of forces, with the C’s newly minted “Big 4″. The C’s are well represented with Rondo, Allen, Garnett, and Pierce, as well as Doc Rivers taking over the coaching reigns of the game.
The obvious question has become whether or not these two distinct factions will be able to play nice and get along. There is about a 99% chance that nothing will go wrong and these guys will show up and play the alley-oop ball we’ve come to expect of the all-star game. Rondo will throw lob passes to the younger and more athletic James and Wade, making Heat fans salivate at the thought of having a real point guard and Celtics fans wonder what this team would be like if the C’s “Big 3″ weren’t a bunch of brittle old men. The final score will most likely end at 155-148, as always, and everyone will go on their merry way. But there is always that sliver of a chance that something will go wrong, and don’t mark me as a fatalist by saying this, but hopefully it does.
When these two teams met this past weekend for their 3rd clash in nearly 5 months, something unusual happened. About halfway through the 3rd quarter the Celtics were riding high, putting together a 16-3 run to open the 2nd half. Ray Allen began to run the break towards the Heat basket, when Kevin Garnett set a hard screen on Mike Miller, sending him falling lifelessly to the ground. Taking exception to the screen, Dwayne Wade came back at Garnett, giving him a shove on the ensuing rebound attempt. The incident didn’t escalate much beyond jawing after that, but it was certainly rare to see two of the game’s stars go at it like that. Garnett has had rifts in the past with role players like Zaza Pachulia, Quentin Richardson, Jose Calderon, and surely many others, but this is the first time it has been with another league superstar.
Most likely this will be an incident that is swept under the rug and termed as one of those “heat of the battle moments.” But if there were ever a group of guys that this wouldn’t be the case with, it would be the Boston Celtics. Don’t let Big Baby’s generally jovial nature fool you, the Celtics are a group of mean individuals on the basketball court. They take no prisoners, and over the past couple of years they have seemed to revel in the hatred directed towards them. They have certainly talked the talk, and in this mini series with this Heat they have also walked the walk. And after last weekend’s game, tensions are certainly at an all time high. The fight is a wonderful starting point, but there is no doubt that the Heat are steaming themselves after going 0-for in this season against their most fierce competition.
So if there were ever a circumstance where there could be a full blown all-star fiasco, I’d say this has a chance of being it. With all of the politics and ass kissing that takes place in the league these days, the odds are still pointing astronomically against any sort outbreak. But the NBA used to be a place where you flat out hated your competition. You didn’t have the other guys come over after the season to barbecue and play horseshoes. No one saw Kurt Rambis and Kevin McHale tipping back mojitos on a Caribbean Cruise-liner after the 1984 Finals. But I suppose things just aren’t the way they were anymore. America is now a politically correct nation. You can no longer make jokes about little people or even think about using the “r-word” in a facetious manner. Sadly sports have also conformed to this squeaky clean image. So like I said earlier, please don’t label me as a doomsday prophet or anything like that. I don’t root for evil just for the sake of rooting for evil. But in sports, an arena that runs nearly exclusively on passion and competition, can’t we just renew some of the glory days? I’d have to think if there were one team out there that could do it, it’d be the Boston Celtics. Right?
About the Author
Written by Michael Johnson
I am a recent graduate of Endicott College having earned my Bachelors Degree in Communications. I bleed green and will until I die. If you'd like to talk sports I'm available on facebook and my email address is Johnson3448@comcast.net. You can also follow me on twitter @johnsoncookie.