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Red's Army

The Tao of Basketball… the Celtics will find their way

John - Red's Army (@RedsArmy_John) January 23, 2013 Celtics News 12 Comments

The gym wakes up in the morning to the thump of a light switch.  It showers in the glow of florescence while humming the song of coursing electricity.

It is the only constant in any day in the NBA.

From there on out, everything is different.  The order in which its occupants arrive, the order in which they exit from the locker room, the plan they execute, and the way they perform… it’s never the same.  Each day, each month, each season, a team must find its way.

Basketball, in this sense, is Taoist

At the heart of Taoism is the concept that there is no set path for anyone to follow.  You must find your own path, your own way, that works in harmony with the world around you.   And this is what the Celtics are doing.  This is what they must do.

We make a critical mistake when judging this team (or any team, for that matter).  We lean too heavily on history make our conclusions.  We do this because it’s easy.  And many times, it serves us well.

But in select times, like this one, it does us a disservice.  Because looking back gives us a picture too different to help us look forward.  The past, to this team in particular, is fairly irrelevant.  There are too many new players to make a fair comparison, and those players that are here are different.  Roles change.  Expectations change.  Pressure changes.

Life changes.

Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.
- Lao Tzu

We hear the cries for change.  It’s natural, especially in Boston, to demand immediate results from athletes who command significant salaries.  But there is a reality that needs to be accepted by everyone before we can truly move on:  This is very likely the team that we will see playing for the rest of the year.

But there also needs to be a similar realization on this team’s part.

Be content with what you have, Celtics.  Be content with each other and your roles, and rejoice in the way things are.  When you realize that, when you simply play basketball the way you’re supposed to, there is nothing lacking.   The whole world belongs to you when you play, as we’ve briefly seen, simply the way you’re supposed to play.

The first step with this team, and our relationship with it, lies within that philosophy:  Acceptance of what we have.  I understand this requires everyone to take a giant step back and take a collective deep breath.  The team must understand this requires the same of them.  They need to take a step back and properly assess not what they’ve had or done in the past, but what and who they are now.  Rejoice in the way things are, and only then you can start to move forward.

Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.
- Lao Tzu

The journey does, indeed, feel a thousand miles long.  With confusion and consternation raining down upon us like a monsoon, it feels impossible.  But it begins with a single step.

What is that step?  That’s what this team needs to figure out.  And once they do, they need to figure out how to put that other foot in front of the first one, and march… forward.

We can all pretend to know the answers.  We can point fingers at players and make somewhat convincing arguments to support our arguments.  Maybe it’s more Barbosa.  Maybe it’s less Pierce.  Maybe it’s more Sullinger.

Those are all valid opinions.  They are all worth exploring.  But only when this team is honest with itself can they take this first step.  Only when they can look in the mirror and say “this is what I can actually do every night” will they begin to make progress on this thousand mile journey.

Mastering others is strength. Mastering yourself is true power.
- Lao Tzu

This is where this season will turn around, if it does at all.

One of the dirtiest words for this team is now “reputation.”  A reliance on one will end this season far earlier than anyone ever expected.  Individuals on this team should wipe their memories clean of what their individuals ones were.  No one on this team has one anymore.  This team doesn’t have one anymore.  This coach doesn’t have one anymore.

Master yourselves, Celtics.

Master your current selves, Celtics.  Not your past selves.  Not your commercial selves.  Not your social selves.  Master the people and players you are when you lace those sneakers and stand up.  Accept who you are now, not who you used to be or who you are supposed to be.

When that happens, this team, with these players, can take the first step in the journey.  There is still time march that thousand mile path.  There’s still time for these players to find the way.  It requires trust and sacrifice.  It requires brutal honesty with themselves.  But the path is there if they want to find it.

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  • Curt

    I’m writing a book called “The Tao of Basketball”. I hope you don’t fight me for the copyrights.

    • http://redsarmy.com John – Red’s Army

      A dedication and cut of the gross will be fine

      • Curt

        Haha, I’ll definitely give a hat tip to John Karalis at Reds Army where I learned how to dribble, shoot, and to find my way on the basketball path via the greatest team in the history of history.

  • Curt

    I like the end to that, John. I guess the Celtics need to revisit what Ubuntu means.

  • GeeZeeCeltics

    Send this to every player so they can read this, pronto.

    Absolutely magnificent piece.

  • Eddie Allen Powe

    I’ve been thinking about this roster and I see our problem. We don’t need a big man via trade. Watching Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving take over their games last night, they put on star performances in the clutch.

    Paul and KG are our super stars and they can’t dominate games anymore. Rondo dominates in a different way, getting 15 assists if the team shoots well.

    If Paul could average 24ppg we would put away these bad teams early and dance to gino.
    If KG was young enough to pay more minutes, he could average 20 and 10 and have more vicious dunks. Rondo is just a great compliment to a super star. 2008 and 2010 seem like ages ago..

    the age of our super stars puts to much pressure on Green Bass and Terrys production. It’s the nba not ncaa, stars carry the team

    • Me

      of course we need a big man, what is the used of jason collins? 1 or 2 rebounds with 2 point in 20 or more than minutes?

      im ok with trading brandon bass
      mozgov if fine with me

  • Quest

    The existing identity of this Celtics “team” forty games into the season….Rajon Rondo running from one end of the floor to the other end of the floor and he is all by himself with no one to throw the ball to. Doc now responding well on to the next game what else can you do but move on.
    This team is broken spritually. The Bench relying on the rep of the Big 3 to carry them through and Rajon, Pierce, KG weary from the constant roster changes and poor performance of the “others” for the last 4 years.
    Myself its no longer about wins or losses its just watching as this May be the last season for KG and Pierce who opt to retire and it may be the last of Rajon in green. The end of a grt run while it lasted.

  • Sam

    What I’m reading between the lines is that this team and its fans need to accept the team for what it is and not be mad that there’s less talent there than in the past or than we’d like.

    We as fans need to accept that no blockbuster trade is coming to turn the team into a contender, and no fire sale is coming to wipe the slate clean.

    We just have to learn to accept the team for who they are, and they must do the same of themselves. Perhaps then they can salvage the season and play within themselves and together enough to not be horrible.

    And then we can all peacefully and wholesomely enjoy their first round exit.

  • KGino

    There is no way this collection of players is really this bad.

    At one point the Cavs had Casspi, Zeller, Livingston, Waiters, & someone else on the floor.. its bewildering to even think a lineup like that could hang in a game with us, never mind win one.

  • Me

    Just Get A Center And Trade Bass

  • Chuck – Red’s Army

    Whoa… deep stuff. Jeff Spicoli couldn’t have said it any better.