Being critical of the team you love is a good thing | Red's Army - The Voice of Boston Celtics Fans
Red's Army

Being critical of the team you love is a good thing

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.  

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  • Danno

    Might as well change the name of this blog to Red’s Butthurt Army.

  • Nora

    Yet another article. It is okay to be critical but not as much as it has been lately.

  • Good stuff John. I’d much rather be respected for what I am than liked for what I’m not.

  • Danno

    “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.”
    Jon, all these KG posts – see above. We’re letting you and Chuck know. All of this isn’t helping. I’ve looked around at a dozen other NBA blogs today. This is the ONLY one with recent stories about KG.

  • paul

    You aren’t being critical. You have turned yourself into a howling pack of lynch dogs. You need to stop justifying it.
    And what’s funny too is that you rarely criticize this team for what you SHOULD criticize them for, which is their increasingly unfortunate tendency to lose games they should win. This team has a lot of problems that it needs to address. Demonizing KG has nothing to do with any of that, but it sure does play right into the hands of other teams that would like the see the Cs fail.
    If you don’t like bullying and violence in basketball, then fine. Let’s talk about KG. But let’s also talk about a guy trying to take his head off, and let’s talk about other teams now showing a pattern of knocking Rondo hard to the floor.
    Is that good clean basketball. No. But you don’t seem to be very concerned about that one. Maybe you would get concerned if Phil Jackson said something about it, or maybe if the guy from Ball is the Truth or whatever did?

  • So that’s it, huh? We get critical of KG once and people want to turn their backs on us? All we’ve ever said is calm down and this is what we get? And the Spike Lee story… and the Phil story… we’re just passing on what other people say.
    And we explain that being critical is part of being a fan and this is what we get.
    Sorry… we call it how we see it. That’s how it is. It’s unfortunate that we can’t be critical of someone around here without facing a backlash… but so be it. We always speak honestly and not to be inflamatory. We always speak our minds and praise what should be praised… and critique what should be critiqued. That’s how it’s been… how it is… and how it will be.

  • “All these KG posts”
    How many have their been where chuck or I have been targeting KG?

  • Jimmy Two-Times

    Fair enough. Personally, I’ve been enjoying KG’s chippiness (is that a word?) this year because A) it indicated that he is confident as opposed to the way he was last year and B) I like “instigators, not retaliators” as Red used to say.

  • BigMck

    Amen to that.

  • cvtca

    Which is fine. There are going to be a lot of Boston fans who like his antics, and some that don’t. What us true fans don’t want is the bickering amongst ourselves and name-calling like what I’ve seen lately on the comment boards. Reminds me of Lakers blogs. Different from constructive arguments.
    While I don’t agree with the over-reaction to KG, and am on board with Doc’s recent comments, I know some people see it the other way. Heck, as long as we keep playing Celtic basketball, people can say whatever they want. Let’s just try to see the argument both ways, and enjoy the company of other Celtic fans and their opinions (and the occasional troll… wait for it…

  • Danno

    Once would’ve been fine. We’re going on 7 separate blog posts about it now.
    You’ve been harping on this for more than a week. The Spike Story – the Phil Story – sensationalist crap. This is a great blog. We all come here on a daily basis because of it.
    What you have here is the Celtics Blog equivalent of CNN. Great Reporting, insightful, and entertaining.
    Stuff like the Phil and Spike stories, and the constant KG harping kinda make it look more like Perez Hilton or TMZ.

  • I’m sorry you feel that way… but we’ve ALWAYS posted the opposition snipes at our guys. We didn’t post them to say “see, they agree with us.” Hell… look at the way the Phil post was written… it as written as a “put this in KG’s locker and let him loose” post. Same with Spike… let KG hear about it and let him get revenge on his team.
    We have only said “KG should calm down” a couple of times on this blog. Don’t lump that in with what those other clowns are saying. It’s no different than “Baby should take fewer jumpers” or “Rondo should take more shots”.

  • fick

    Wow. The comments on this post are a little overboard. John and Co. have every right to be critical of KG. They haven’t ‘turned their backs on him’ nor are they tearing him down. They don’t agree with the way he’s acting at the moment.. fair enough.
    Personally, I don’t have a problem with his on court antics. But I admit to wearing green-tinted glasses and thinking that KG is just misunderstood and/or that he gets harshly judged by those that aren’t in his head/inner circle. I’m not defending him or making excuses for his actions. Just expressing the way I see it. And that’s all John and Co. are doing too. Nothing wrong with either point of view.

  • “Let’s just try to see the argument both ways, and enjoy the company of other Celtic fans”
    THAT…. is all we’re asking for

  • thank you.

  • Danno

    There’s nothing wrong with being critical. But there is a point where it ceases to be legitimate criticism, and turns into unnecessary whining.
    And I’m with the poster above who said that the uptick in KG’s “chippiness” is a GREAT sign that he’s confident and healthy.
    I read your comments about it being Bill Laimbeer-esque. I disagree that it’s anywhere near that bad – but seriously – the NBA could use a good dose of that old school on-court toughness most days. KG’s phantom nut-check isn’t even in the same league as McHale’s clotheslining of Rambis.
    Nobody want’s to see guys hurting each other, but the overacting fake injuries make the league look pathetic.

  • Now that’s fine. If you think it’s a good thing… then that’s your opinion and you’re entitled to it.
    We’d like to be entitled to ours is all we’re saying

  • Danno

    And Just like it’s ok for You guys to criticize KG – it too should be ok for your readers to criticize you.
    Nobody here is insulting you guys. Critical? Yes. Sarcastically poking? maybe.
    But if you’re going to pass the rock, you gotta be able to finish at the hoop as well, fellas.

  • Cam

    I don’t care who is critical about what. But we are talking about basketball so I’d rather someone be critical about KG’s or the Celtics play rather than KG touching a ref’s arm, or Shaq doing too many extra curricular activities, or Pierce talking trash.
    It really is hard to be critical of Garnett and people certainly are grasping at straws. I mean this guy literally changed this franchise and brought us a championship. Wagging his finger, pushing a Ref’s arm, talking trash really shouldn’t be the headlines when we are talking about KG. Those are the smallest of things to talk about when it comes to him but some people seem to crave it I guess.

  • Nora

    Exactly if you, are going to dish it out you have to take the criticism for it as well.

  • Doop

    Wow guys, chill. Okay, there have been a couple of KG-behavior related posts. I thought they were all good- both sides of the argument were presented, and nobody was ‘hating’. John/Chuck- ya’ll don’t have to justify whatever you’re doing, it’s great. My favorite C’s blog. Keep going!

  • Criticize us all you want. What we’re responding to is the “This is a Celtics blog.. you shouldn’t criticize him.”
    If you want to say “Your criticism is wrong and he doesn’t need to calm down” then fine. Let ‘er rip.

  • Good essay, good point, totally agree. I don’t agree with all the criticisms KG has accrued recently but some are appropriate. Being a Celtics’ fan does not, or at least shouldn’t, mean a carte blanc approval. Our heroes occasionally step over the line and merit being called to task for it.
    I actually am much more concerned by the fact that Kevin got his foot under a three-point shooter coming down than his poke at the midsection which wasn’t directed as his eyes were looking up. I’ve gotten my most serious sprains coming down on a foot and feel like a defender closing out has a pretty good idea where the shooter is coming down and should make an effort to be sure he doesn’t “mine” the landing zone. As for the constant stream of curses, Kevin is a potty mouth but I think it is directed at the ether and himself as much as any opponent. Do I wish he chose other avenues for his mania? Sure, but his frenzied passion is part of what makes him great and I see no inherent harm in the stream of invectives.

  • Great article keep up the good work.

  • ShamrockPP

    I gotta agree with the guys running this blog. KGs fierce intensity is what makes him separate from other players. Its what make other teams and other teams fans want KG on THEIR team. Its what every superstar lacks on every team. BUT however, theres a limit. I totally understand what theyre saying with the whole Lebron metaphor. Look at that piece of shit Lebron. He hasnt ever won a ring nor a finals game for that matter and he walks around like his shit dont stink. He throws the towel away from the towel boys of opposing teams, he says stupid stuff like him leaving cleveland became into a race issue, he gives up in the playoffs because he thinks hes the best cuz of everyone being OK with him doing this stuff and not charging him or sitting him on the bench (ahem mike brown) and hes become a totally doucebag of epic proportions. And even worse is sportscenter and espn dont get off his nuts. KG is getting there. Most of the stuff he does is fine, like hitting his head on the pads or cursing at other players thats all fine. BUT you cross the line when you punch a guy u missed defending in the nuts to make up for your mistake. completely unsportsman like. also cussing out fans of the knicks instead of the knick players themselves. cmon guys. there IS a limit to everything. KG needs to tone it down just a bit before he gets to lebrons douche level

  • I think in general, KG’s attitude is being blown out of proportion (but not necessarily by this site).
    If I threw in my own 2 cents I’d say that I like Kg’s intensity and that I particularly don’t agree with the Laimbeer association.
    But…I like this site and the work these guys put in, so I don’t get all worked up about it, as if John and Chuck secretly hate KG.

  • DRJ

    “This is the ONLY one with recent stories about KG.”
    #1 — That’s just not true. Have you looked over at CelticsBlog lately? There’s an ongoing battle going on over there (and I’m fighting against daunting odds).
    #2 — The only ones that write about this issues ARE THE ONES THAT CARE!! That’s the whole point of this article.

  • DRJ

    “Lynch dogs”? “Demonizing”? WHAT are you talking about??
    Fact is, KG’s behavior has COST HIS TEAM GAMES recently… something you seem very concerned about. Mavs, Suns and Charlotte were all games where KG’s techs cost the team a chance to tie at the end, or where he got thrown out altogether.
    So you see…. it is important to DISCUSS these things. Otherwise, we lose games we shouldn’t lose. Heck, we might even lose the championship, you never know.
    Problems must be addressed, because if they are not, they fester.

  • DRJ

    “We always speak our minds and praise what should be praised… and critique what should be critiqued. That’s how it’s been… how it is… and how it will be.”
    Great. Way it should be.

  • DRJ

    Nope. Logical error there, Danno.
    For any of us to criticize a player in the hope of having him improve/fix the problem — is clearly valid, and should be accepted by all. That would be Right #1.
    For you to say “No, you cannot criticize that player” is NOT the same thing, at all. Because what you are saying, in effect, is that Right #1 does not exist. And that’s wrong.
    What would be right is if you disagree ABOUT THE SUBJECT at hand. For example, if you said: “What KG did was nothing bad at all.” But when you claim that someone else DOES NOT HAVE THE RIGHT TO SAY SOMETHING… you are abridging that person’s rights — which is wrong.

  • DRJ


  • DRJ

    Excellent piece. Agree completely.
    Look — I disagreed when you wrote that KG was wrong to put his feet under Frye’s. I said — No, that was pure accident. He clearly did NOT intend to hurt Frye, he just guards closely, and those things happen.
    That’s a disagreement about THE FACTS. Which is WAY different from arguing that you have no right to write about KG’s issues!
    Keep on keepin’ on, guys.

  • Viva

    I must admit I prefer the British expression supporter over a fan. As long as a player is giving his best on the court for our team to win games, and it’s working, I do not have any problems with him. What amazes me is how suddenly everyone has a problem with KG’s on court manners. He was that kind of guy always. But honestly, LOVE HIM OR HATE HIM, YOU’VE GOT TO RESPECT HIM!!!

  • KG Celts fan

    KG kicks ass!
    Disagree if you may, but that’s just the way I feel.

  • KG Celts fan

    I’m normally KY Celts fan, but changed it temporarily in light of the topic.

  • D. George

    I miss Larry Bird.

  • david
    i enjoyed this article form celticsblog, everybody should read it in light of all the attention garnett has recently been getting.

  • V

    What you lookin’ at? You all a bunch of fuckin’ assholes. You know why? You don’t have the guts to be what you wanna be? You need people like me. You need people like me so you can point your fuckin’ fingers and say, “That’s the bad guy.” So… what that make you? Good? You’re not good. You just know how to hide, how to lie. Me, I don’t have that problem. Me, I always tell the truth. Even when I lie. So say good night to the bad guy! Come on. The last time you gonna see a bad guy like this again, let me tell you. Come on. Make way for the bad guy. There’s a bad guy comin’ through! Better get outta his way!
    I think most of us here can agree that KG is a legend. And those of us who are old enough to remember the older eras know that KG is one of the last ones left of a dying breed. Overall, with a calm head, I think most Celtics fans would agree that KG pushes the envelope with his intensity or “antics” (as people like to call it), however, I feel like the issue here is hypocrisy and extreme sensitivity shown by fans, players, and those who cover the league alike (truth be told I believe the true major issue here is the widespread takeover/influence of social/sports media [ie. twitter, facebook, blogs, forums, etc.] and the overall acceptance of such devices, which allow people to over analyze and recklessly spew opinions, whether rational or irrational, behind computer screens, written words, and anonymity, all the while contributing to the “pussification of America”).
    People have crucified KG wherever you look for his “antics” (which others around the league are guilty of doing on the court as well with no mention), but nevermind that he doesn’t break any laws, he donates money and time to charities, is loved and respected by his teammates, and has overall been a good samaritan off the court. What is in fact occurring is people (again fans, media, and players) are biased (which i suppose is understandable) because the Celtics and KG are successful and are winning in a competition against teams and players they like and root for, and then many of these people are presenting their opinions as unbiased when truly they are not (hence imo the overreaction to KG’s antics, which probably do in fact warrant some backlash but not to the degree to which it receives when considered with the egregious crimes committed by others involved in the league).
    So, overall, I believe many Celtics fans are defensive at the moment due to the hypocrisy I have spoken about above to the point where many feel like it seems that only Celitcs fans can be truly objective about this manner. I think everyone here respects Red’s Army as great Celtic fans, and probably do see the rationale pointed out in this article, however, they are just reacting to the fact that they believe KG’s antics have been beaten to death to the point that Celtics fans don’t need to bring it up anymore because the point has exaggerated to an extreme level.

  • Classless

    Again, why all this whining about KG’s “antics” now? He’s the exact same player he’s been since he was traded here. He was this nuts in Minny, too, but apparently nobody here watched the T-Wolves. Ever. I can point to as recently as 2007 when KG had a game long issue with Perkins in a game @ Boston.
    This is who he is. What drives me crazy is the same people bitching about him now are the same people who bitch about Manny Ramirez’ indifference or Tom Brady’s alleged lack of focus because he married with kids now.

  • Caterpillar from Italy

    Hey, I was on the CelticsBlog some days ago, just after started reading almost daily shots on “how bad KG was behaving” from you as well on this blog: I found a post opened by some DRJ1 (!!!) dramaticly asserting that a “suspension was needed for the good of the team”.. and the replies of course were not just tender, just like here
    What in the hell does all this KG crap mean????
    Again: criticism is good, going way above the line is another. I think Red’s Army wanted to stay in the first position but rolled away completely in the second.
    It happens, let me tell you: as much as I love your blog, this is getting ridiculous.

  • Caterpillar from Italy

    “Fact is, KG’s behavior has COST HIS TEAM GAMES recently… something you seem very concerned about. Mavs, Suns and Charlotte were all games where KG’s techs cost the team a chance to tie at the end, or where he got thrown out altogether.”
    To me, this is going way beyond the line with criticism.

  • Ringo

    You want to hear constructive criticism? DRJ has to be one of the least knowledgable and credible Celtics bloggers out there. I think he only became a fan of the team after they traded for Ray and KG. Badly written, incoherent blogs with no substance, but a lot of bigotry.
    His perception follows his logic, not the other way around.

  • CFH

    This is true of me.

  • DRJ

    And I think this is the best kind of criticism… designed and motivated as it is to improve the team. It’s arguable that when criticism does NOT have at its core the goal of improving the team, it’s probably unwarranted, or too personal.

  • DRJ


  • Fact of the matter is, KG’s intensity is what makes him the player he is. He is not a tech-machine (see: Dwight Howard, Perk, Joakim Noah, et al). Yes- he has let his emotions get the better of him lately, but has also shown great poise in the face of fire (see: hard foul by Turkoglu with ZERO reaction from KG). He is a master of leveling himself off when he has to. He just needs to not sack-whack people and committ silly, heated, rookie fouls.

  • erik.crone

    ding ding ding we have a winner

  • erik.crone

    another winner

  • Caterpillar from Italy

    I’m just saying that if you think that we lost a chance to get back in the game against Dallas, Charlotte and Suns just because KG got t’d, well, I really don’t know what games you watched and I even think you have some personal rancorous feeling toward the guy!
    Dallas: we got ice cold in the last 2 minutes of the game when we had the lead, we blew it, and it didn’t seem to me KG was more responsible than – say – P2.
    Charlotte: a typical loss by this team in the last 2 years, against a much weaker opponent, and with no effort whatsoever. Kg was no deeper down than – say – Rajon Rondo.
    Suns: the whole game was freakin’ pathetic, always down double digit. Do you really think we ever had a chance to tie that game even with KG on the floor??
    And even if he was guilty in that game, it’s not me who has to remind you how many games KG helped to win BIG TIME..
    Motivated or not, this criticism is waaay beyond the line.

  • DRJ

    Nope. I’ve posted this several times, and here it is again:
    Dallas – final margin = 4 pts. Absent KG’s tech, there would have been a shot at the end. As it was, there was no shot. Saying that KG hurt the team is NOT the same as saying “it’s all his fault.” You have argued that, but it’s a plainly false argument, because no one EVER said it’s ALL his fault — that would be crazy.
    Charlotte – same as Dallas. 4pt margin near end. KG tech = an unnecessary opponent point that put the game just out of reach in the end. Same logic as Dallas. (Not ALL his fault — obviously.)
    Phoenix – KG got ejected altogether. Holy mackerel… what could he do worse than disappear altogether?!
    And the rest of the problem has to do with the refs, and what might happen if he keeps shoving them aside, and/or otherwise irritate them. Last thing we need is to have the refs against us in the playoffs.
    What I don’t understand is how it is not perfectly obvious to everyone that giving tech and foul points to our opponents is a “bad thing.” Why would you NOT want KG to stop doing that?? This really mystifies me….