First of all, I’m not a “Green Teamer” as described by some of the Boston Sports talking-heads. They use the term to rile up hardcore Boston Celtics fans who forgive anything and everything like knee-jerk jingoists or banner waving pink hatted neophytes.
Been there, did that… twice. The Larry Bird and Paul Pierce Eras. They could not, ever, do anything wrong. And in my mind they proved it. But I can shut the game off now and see through a crystal clear reality lens that my Boston Celtics will not get by the Miami Heat. Sadly, I saw that they should have, could have, and would have done it, except for a smoldering immaturity.
The Celtics possess two of the games most promising and perhaps youngest pair of upstarts in the league in Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. Is it surprising then that these man/boys are immature? That is a proven characteristic of guys in their early twenties. They think they know what they want and what they hope to accomplish and they believe they deserve it now. Gimme, gimme, me, me mine!
They will shake their head and say “Ok coach, yup, yup, I got it. Sorry coach, ok, I’ll watch that, I’ll get it coach.” And when they are pissed they might blurt out something frustratingly childish and later apologize. Then perhaps just like in high school their Coach will make it a love-fest teaching moment and move on. (A knock on Brad Stevens is that he has that high school coach aura.)
The inner child in these two budding superstars can accept and understand dealing with that kind of high school criticism and authority. But on the court, like on the playground, they cannot accept harsh criticism and blame from teammates. Even teammates who might be trying to help or who might actually be calling them out.
Enter Marcus Smart
Of the two upstarts in our little saga featuring Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, Brown is the more overt and demonstrative in venting his frustration while Tatum tends to go stoic and pout. Brown is more likely to clash in public and has often been seen mincing words during a game with teammates. Especially with Marcus Smart. Some Boston sports conspiracy theorists suspect Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart along with Marcus Morris Sr. were at the heart of the Kyrie Irving :get out of town” fiasco.
Exit Marcus Smart.
After dropping game 2 to the Miami Heat, a game in which The Celtics held impressive leads throughout, a very loud and vociferous argument could be heard pounding through the doors of the Boston locker room. Things could be heard bouncing off the walls. Suddenly, Marcus Smart emerged and marched by the press without taking the customary after game questions.
Celtics Coach Brad Stevens called a team meeting later that same night; Beauty of the Bubble, everyone is confined to the complex. Everyone had to show up. The hope in Boston among the critics and hardcore fans alike is that Marcus Smart will take the high road, the more mature perspective, and back down and yield to the younger cubs.He must absolutely come to terms with the possibility that he might never be an ultimate closer in this league.
Marcus Smart might be the ultimate situational defender in the NBA and arguably one of the most talented set-up guys in crunch-time. If he could stay focused on his specialties then he could allow the young guys to be immature and help them through it by controlling his temper and by staying focused on controlling the temper of the game.
Smart needs to smarten up and accept that he is not expected to be the buzzer beater. But that instead, through the sheer strength of his personality and determinism, the buzzer beater can ride to the hoop on his back. That would give him most of the glory, but he can’t have it all.
He’s not Larry and he’s not Paul