I love sports… particularly the sport of basketball. That much should be obvious.
Sports are a great escape from reality. It's a place where people use inclusive terms like "we" and "us" when talking about their favorite team despite the fact that our dreams of actually playing for these guys ended somewhere around adolescence. It's a place where a group of people all watch the exact same thing transpire, yet everyone has a different opinion of what happened.
I love that. I love immersing myself in to my favorite team. I love breaking it down. I love talking about it… reading about it… writing about it. And sometimes… being critical about it.
And despite what I've been reading around here lately, that IS part of it.
Kevin Garnett has been a hot topic around here, and around the NBA universe lately. We have all seen his actions. We don't live in different universes where different KG's act differently. We are all seeing the same things. Some of us don't like what he's doing. Some of us don't care. Some of us applaud it and want more. But being critical of someone's actions, behavior, or style of play, even though he's part of the team I love, is a good thing as long as I, and anyone else who criticizes him, honestly believes in what he or she is saying.
Criticism for the sake of criticism (a.k.a. "hating") is wrong. That requires no thought. But honest criticism that is born of concern and a desire for the best possible result is right. It's constructive. Hell, it's even necessary.
A lack of proper criticism ultimately leads to a tacit encouragement of that behavior or style of play. It leads to a sense of entitlement. Look at LeBron James… who has probably never heard the word "no" in his life. A lack of critics around him to keep him in check has led to an ego the size of Greenland… creating the self-proclaimed "Chosen-1" and "King James." His yes-men lackies give him 100% approval to do whatever he wants. And the unchecked human ego, combined with ridiculous talent, gets you to where he is now: a borderline pariah in the eyes of fans.
I know that if I started to act like an ass (I know, I know… "started to?"), I'd want my family or friends to say something to me. I'd like them to let me know that whatever it was that I was saying or doing has devolved into something unacceptable. At least then I'd know they cared enough about me to let me know when I'm doing something self-destructive.
And so we return to Kevin Garnett, and his recent behavior. Both Chuck and I have, to varying degrees, criticized Kevin for the way he's carried himself. Not to feed any growing anti-KG sentiment. Not to turn on him.. But simply to say "hey, we don't agree with the way you're handling yourself." We know what KG is. We know how emotions feed a perpetual-motion game machine that is the heart and soul of a stingy, nasty, physical Celtics defense. But sometimes that nasty, physicalness crosses a line. We feel it has recently. And we're not going to be shy about saying so. It's not because we hate KG. It's quite the opposite. We love the crazy guy.
You may disagree. That is perfectly fine. Because sports is sports and it's a wonderful escape from reality where we can look at the same exact thing and completely disagree about what we saw. But we all love this team (well… except for the people who come here with the expressed purpose of hating this team… but I digress). And we all want the same thing. Sometimes, criticizing what you love is necessary. Turning a blind eye to the bad things won't help anything.