(thanks to George in Sect. 328 for image)
The 2010 NBA Off-season has been anything but an "off-season." When LeBron James decided to take his talents to South Beach, forming the NBA's version of "Voltron," it guaranteed that many teams would be interested in watching the Miami Heat play. Seemingly every time you read an interview with a player, coach, organizational member, former player, ball boy, janitor, secretary, dancer or team commentator around the league, they were all asked: "So, what do you think about the SuperFriends in Miami?!?!" Apparently, by signing Shaquille O'Neal and Delonte West, the Celtics have admitted that they are "scared to death of the Miami Heat and what the Big Three are doing in South Florida."
At least according to Tim Povtak of AOL Fanhouse. Chuck did a solid job in the Morning Dump by pointing out the chemistry issue is a bit overstated, especially for this team. But really, how are these two free agent signings an admission of fear? Has Mr. Povtak not read any quotes from members of the Celtics this summer?
What are Rajon Rondo's thoughts on the Miami Heat? (From Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports)
“They should be good, but they ain’t done nothing yet,” Rondo said during Team USA’s minicamp. “They ain’t done nothing.”
“What is there to be nervous for?” he said. “I’m worried about L.A. That’s the team we need to beat. Miami looks really good on paper, and I’m sure they’re going to be really good. But they still have to come together as a team. I’m not saying they won’t, but who knows if those guys can jell?
“Our biggest opponent each night is ourselves – that’s how I look at it. Not to be cocky or anything, but that’s how we honestly feel. We are the defending [Eastern] champs. Once the first game of the regular season starts, that’s irrelevant. But we are going to go into training camp looking to get back to the Finals and win it.”
What are the thoughts of head coach Doc Rivers? (from Chris Tomasson, AOL Fanhouse)
"We'll find out that later,'' said Rivers, asked if Miami has become a contender with the move. "You got to play. But, clearly, they've improved their basketball team. But I'm not going to go ahead and say there's a shift (in East power) as I'm concerned. … We went through it three years ago (when the Celtics won the title in 2007-08 with newly acquired stars Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen). We did it quick, but I don't think anybody anticipated us doing it that quick. … We'll see.''
While Rivers isn't too concerned now about a Miami team that will include Bosh and Wade, we'll see how he might feel if the Heat adds James. The Bosh move wasn't a surprise. He had first told FanHouse last November he had interest in joining Wade in Miami.
Rivers did acknowledge, though, the Heat will be much tougher with another big scorer in Bosh alongside Wade.
"(Bosh) makes them better, it's clear,'' Rivers said. "Bosh is a hell of a player. … It makes it more difficult to guard Wade because before you could kind of load up, and now they've got another guy wandering around. … They're a better basketball team.''
But that still doesn't mean the Celtics are shaking in their sneakers.
How about the thoughts of Danny Ainge? (from Chris Tomasson, AOL Fanhouse)
"Well, Miami will be very good,'' Ainge said. "But I'm working on what we're trying to do to become a better team. I'm not worried about what everybody else is doing.''
What does Ray Allen think about Miami? (from Kurt Helin, NBC ProBasketballTalk):
"We look forward to playing (Miami)," he said. "We feel like we're the better team – the team to beat in the East. We definitely look forward to that matchup."
What about Big Baby's thoughts on the SuperTeam? (from David Willis, Lawrence Eagle-Tribune):
The hype surrounding LeBron James' move to Miami:
"We're not worried about LeBron or the Heat. We're not afraid of them at all."
Interested in what Nate Robinson thinks? (Nate's Twitter Account):
Wow we got @THE_REAL_SHAQ on the celtics we bout to be kick ass like the movie #wordaapp welcome to beantown @THE_REAL_SHAQ
How about the captain, Paul Pierce? (from Pierce's official site, paulpierce.net):
Paul told reporters at his youth camp at Basketball City last week that his team has yet to be dethroned as Eastern Conference Champions and he still considers them the favorites.
"I think we’re right there at top," No. 34 told the Boston Globe. "I think we’re one of the top four or five teams in all of basketball. I think we should try to get the top seed."
"I love our team," he told the Boston Herald. "No one’s bigger than us at the center position."
No. 34 does see some similarities in Boston’s Big Three and the group Heat have assembled, but he also sees one key difference that could hold Miami back if Bosh, Wade and James aren’t willing to let go a little, as Paul told Greg Dickerson of CSN New England:
"You know it could come together right away for them, like it did when we brought our whole new team together, but it's all about the sacrifice, it's all about dropping the egos, and it's all about communication. It's going to be hard, you know why? I like to call this barbershop talk, because you go to a barbershop and all you talk about is basketball and sports and people are always saying, 'What if Kevin, Ray, and Paul had gotten together when they were younger? They'd probably have four or five championships. But then you don't take into (account) the fact that we were all in our primes, still trying to establish ourselves at the same time, which is what you're seeing with Miami now.
All of these guys are in their prime. Now, how much of your prime are you going to sacrifice? LeBron right now is an MVP-caliber player. Wade is also, too. And also Chris Bosh. Now, can these guys say for the rest of their careers it's not about winning the MVP? It's about sacrificing the individual numbers for a greater good, and that's winning a championship. I think the great players make the adjustment. If it doesn't work out (the first year), I think as time goes, they'll figure it out."
How about Shaq's thoughts? (from celticsblog, transcribing his press conference on youtube):
When asked (I think, it is a little hard to hear on the video) about how Boston matches up with LeBron & Miami:
I don't say anything to that. Its going to be a long season, we know what we have to do, and we know we have a lot of pieces. We match up pretty good with anybody. You know, we have four great big men, and when 'Big Perk' comes back there's not going to be too many people that can deal with our front line…
Last year you know everybody was talking about other teams nobody ever really mentioned Boston; I think that's the way we like it around here.
How about Shaq's brotha from anotha motha, Jermaine O'Neal: (from Chris Forsberg, ESPNBoston.com)
Jermaine O'Neal essentially had his choice of Big Threes this offseason. But stressing that winning — and winning right now — was the most important thing to him at this advanced stage of his career, O'Neal chose to sign with Boston rather than remain in Miami.
"I knew what they were trying to do [in Miami], and I could have re-signed back with those guys," O'Neal said of his former team, which recruited LeBron James and Chris Bosh to join Dwyane Wadethis offseason. "It comes down to fit; it comes down to personality and the style of play. Boston has that all for me.
"This was the most important choice that I've made in my career, the first time I've been a free agent in my 14 years. It was very difficult, but over the next two years, I needed to be where it's strictly about winning now and not worrying about chemistry or worrying about anything else. It's just about coming in and helping the team win, being involved in something great.
"I felt like the Celtics have the best team. I had a chance to re-sign back with [Miami], but I thought this was where I was meant to be."
Finally, what about Perk? (from Kurt Helin, NBC ProBasketballTalk):
It looks good on paper with Miami and stuff like that, but at the same time each team is going to come at you. You gotta be prepared. It would be nothing more than amazing for us to meet up with Miami and beat them. I think any team would love to upset them. They've got a lot of pressure on their end. Forget the other teams have to play against them, they've got a lot of pressure on their end to win, to actually produce. It won't just be as if you're gonna get three All Star players and then you win a championship. You gotta have the right coach, everybody has to sacrifice, you gotta be willing to move the ball, it's gotta be about team, and you gotta be able to play defense. We'll see when it's time to match-up so we can just go from there."
That's a relatively decent sample size of quotes and opinions from various members of the Celtics organization. Maybe it's just me, but I don't sense any type of fear, or admission of fear from any of the aforementioned quotes. Perhaps I need to study more under Emperor Palpatine's tutelage to learn the dark ways of the force, thus enabling me to sense fear better than most people. Either way, the Celtics are not afraid of Miami. Not even close. In fact, they're one of the few teams to have multiple members go out of their way to make it clear that they aren't afraid.
I think we can all agree on one thing however: Is it October 26th yet?!?!