We’re concentrating on falling apart.
We were contenders, we’re throwing the fight
But I just wanna believe, I just wanna believe,
I just wanna believe, in us.
(“Okay I Believe You, But My Tommy Gun Don’t” by Brand New)
Let me explain.
I am a Boston Celtics fan and an enthusiast of Emo music. I first started listening to Emo in college and, while I didn’t do the black nail polish or skinny jeans, the whole “why doesn’t this girl like me?” message in most songs was a big part of my vibe. I also assumed that as I grew older my tastes would mature.
“Yeah, I love Fall Out Boy now but once I’m an adult I’m sure I’ll like The Rolling Stones or Counting Crows or James Taylor more.”
This never happened.
And sadly, the potential the Boston Celtics have seemingly had for the last five seasons has never reached its ceiling either.
Which is why the Celtics are the perfect basketball team for any Emo music fans looking to expand their interests into the NBA. The Celtics’ failure to reach their full potential is very similar to the failed relationships often referred to in Emo hits. In fact, a lot of the team’s recent history is relatable to lyrics from two of the best Emo bands, Brand New and Taking Back Sunday.
And I’ve seen what happens to the wicked and proud
When they decide to try to take on the throne for the crown
(“Jaws Theme Swimming” by Brand New)
The Celtics were in an enviable position in the summer of 2017, having added Jaylen Brown, Al Horford, Jayson Tatum and Gordon Hayward in back to back off-seasons. However, Danny Ainge knew in order to contend with the “crown” of LeBron James he needed upper echelon talent.
The trade for Kyrie Irving from Cleveland included the Celtics parting ways with guard Isaiah Thomas, who had played through a significant injury in the previous playoffs.
Two things here, 1) it’s reasonable to feel the karma of trading away IT is to blame for where the Celtics franchise has gone since, and 2) it was the right move.
Was it callous and cold? 100%. But as Bob Sugar says in “Jerry Maguire”:
What they call love is a risk
Cause you will always get hit out of nowhere by some wave and end up on your own
(“Play Crack the Sky” by Brand New)
Loving any sports team is a gamble as even the most optimistic situations can turn south very quickly.
For example, here’s what happened to the Celtics after the Irving/IT trade:
- Hayward breaks his leg in the 2017-18 regular season opener
- Irving’s 2017-18 season ends early as he needs knee surgery and misses the playoffs
- Irving says he’s going to re-sign long-term in Boston, then has a mercurial 2018-19 season (to say the least) and leaves for Brooklyn in the summer of 2019
- Horford ops out of the final year of his contract in the summer of 2019 and signs with Philadelphia
- Tyler Herro, the Celtics’ likely draft target, is selected one pick ahead of Boston in the 2019 draft
- Hayward opts out of the final year of his contract in the summer of 2020 and is part of a sign-and-trade with Charlotte
- Tyrese Haliburton, who would be a nice fit with this team, is selected two picks ahead of Boston in the 2020 draft
- Kemba Walker, who the Celtics signed to a max free-agent deal in the summer of 2019, sees his play drop off so much Boston has to trade their 2021 first round pick with Walker to Oklahoma City in order for the cap relief
The Celtics and their fans felt on top of the world at one point. NBA championships are exceptionally difficult to win, but the situation in Boston still felt poised to claim one over the next few seasons.
Fans of Andrew Luck’s Colts, or the Lakers that had Kobe, Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard and Steve Nash likely felt similarly, and saw similar results from their teams.
Even teams with the highest potential can see it all go away in an instant.
You always come close but this never comes easy
(“Great Romances of the 20th Century” by Taking Back Sunday)
What might be even more frustrating about the Celtics’ misfortune is how close they still came to a Finals appearance.
In 2018, Boston made it to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers without Irving or Hayward. Two of their best players in the series were then 20-year-old Tatum and 21-year-old Brown. Tatum also provided the best consolation prize a Game 7 loss could have with this dunk:
In 2020, Boston made it to Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals vs. the Miami Heat. The Celtics were missing Hayward for two games, and when he returned he wasn’t close to the performance he gave for much of the regular season. Tatum (now 22) and Brown (23) were the two best players for the Celtics and it was clear they were now the present and future of the franchise.
Does anybody remember back when you were very young?
Did you ever think that you would be this blessed?
(“Guernica” by Brand New)
“Blessed” is how a lot of Celtics fans have felt with having Tatum and Brown on the team. Beginning this season with two All-Stars wings under 25-years-old is really an NBA fan’s dream. Add on that both were signed for the next three seasons and this season was looking up.
You’ve got this silly way
of keeping me on the edge of my seat
But you’re only counting the clock against the train
And I’m miserable
(“Bike Scene” by Taking Back Sunday)
And yet here we are.
On December 27th, the Celtics lost 108-103 to the Minnesota Timberwolves (another team well-versed with Emo music). Minnesota was missing several players, including Karl Anthony-Towns, DeAngelo Russell, and Anthony Edwards. It was another tough loss in a season that has already seen enough losses like that.
Questions about the makeup of this team continue to persist in terms of their overall toughness, and Tatum/Brown’s ability to make their teammates better. New Head Coach Ime Udoka has also not been the spark many fans had hoped for.
And as for their record in close games…
We pass it off but it’s all on us.
Only common conversation,
it took everything I got.
(“Good to Know That If I Ever Need Attention…” by Brand New)
How can things improve? Unfortunately it’s not an overnight fix. A lot of fans feel trading Marcus Smart would bring in a return that could rejuvenate the team. Others might say it’s finally time to consider a trade of Tatum or Brown.
Personally, I think the Tatum/Brown duo needs at least one more chance next season. Their combination is such a unique opportunity the Celtics need to wait as long as possible to see if they can make this work.
What is imperative is this team finally recognize the current situation, and any chance of improvement, is all on them. There’s still time for the Celtics to reach the potential Boston fans have been fantasizing about, but the second hand on that clock is ticking faster and faster.
Broken down in bars and bathrooms
All I did was what I had to
Don’t believe me when I tell you
it’s just what anyone would do
(“There’s No ‘I’ in Team” by Taking Sunday)
Yeah, I’ll be honest, this one’s just about me. I’d like to think this was a rational and therapeutic way for me to deal with the likelihood the Jays won’t be winning a title together in Boston. I’d like to think I’m not the only one who did something so silly and borderline dumb like this.
But I don’t even believe myself when I say that.
- / 1 year ago
To me, Rachel Nichols is the personification of posting a black square on Instagram.