Among all the teams in the league, there’s been very few that have played with more emotional and grit in the last decade then the Boston Celtics. There is much to conjure up as to the reasons why but the level of loyalty displayed between their players is most often found in the dynamics of gang members and mob families. In an ESPN interview entitled Pierce, Garnett SC Conversation, Kevin Garnett mentions that they joined the Celtics “as strangers, and bonded like brothers”. As we’ve seen depicted before in movies like The Godfather and Good Fellas their alleged brotherhood and the dynamics of loyalty and trust is what causes everyone involved to die at the end. Similarly, this same false brotherhood has led the Boston Celtics management to restructure their player and coaching personnel in this off-season. They have essentially self proscribed the figurative death penalty that will endure for years to come.
To find what could have possibly led to this, we look to the out of control emotion behavior of the players that are no longer their. Sports psychology is crucial in professional sports so I don’t pretend to assert that athletes shouldn’t elevate their in-game performance through whatever means possible but like any workplace setting, a certain level of professionalism should always be observed. The fact remains that your opponent today could very well be your teammate within months or even weeks. So there is little to gain from showing emotions or behavior that go above and beyond those necessary to win the game. There is even less to gain from engaging in physical altercations or playing dirty which could lead your opponent or even your teammate to suffer an injury. While with the Boston Celtics, Kevin Garnett didn’t seem to understand this. Throughout his tenure with the Celtics he demonstrated this type of disruptive behavior which gained him a bad reputation among players, coaches, and sports analyst throughout the league. Everyone around him had to continuously weigh the balance between his unprofessional behavior on one side and his positive contributions to the game on the other side to justify his erratic physical play. So does Kevin Garnett avert to overly emotional and physical play to mask his shortcomings in terms of speed or skill? I certainly think so.
It’s quite obvious that Kevin Garnett’s emotions definitely had an influence on his teammates; most notably on Rajon Rondo. Rajon Rondo just always seems to play with a chip on his shoulder. Much like Garnett, he too has an overly aggressive style of play. The difference between Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo is that Rondo’s aggression is inconsistent with his size and strength. He simply doesn’t have an overbearing stature by NBA standards for his position to endure the push back from opponents. This has led him to suffer several injuries that could have been avoided if he didn’t play with such physical aggression. I’m sure that Celtic fans certainly appreciate Rondo’s win-at-all-cost mentality because it may help win games that perhaps they wouldn’t have won otherwise. This feeling isn’t shared by everyone, especially the Celtic’s management. Its clear now that the Celtics management came to the realization that this style of play would only put into question the long term career of their star guard. In an effort to protect him, the Celtic management had to cut deep into the culture of the team and go in a completely different direction to get back to playing smart basketball. They realized that if they cut the head off the snake the body will die.