Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big story line. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
A standout, do-everything college upperclassman fell to the second round of the 2012 NBA Draft because teams didn’t know his position. Early flashes of intrigue went unnoticed because of established talent in front of him. Eventually, he found a coach that understood his game, an organization with the right on-court complements to activate his skills and a three-point shot that made him playable.
That’s Draymond Green’s story, but it also sounds a lot like Jae Crowder’s. Crowder is not Draymond Green, but he’s at least become Diet Draymond Green this season. He does everything Green can, just a little worse. That’s enough to make him the Celtics’ best two-way player and a significant asset in trade talks.
Recognizing that this piece might be suddenly vaporized before today’s 3 p.m. trade deadline (hope not!), we will nevertheless jump on board with giving Jae Crowder his due.
What a success story Crowder is: a little-known young guy who didn’t play much in Dallas, thrown in (we thought) to the Rondo trade, who has developed into a key cog in Brad Stevens’ machine. He’s being compared to Green, an All-Star and NBA champion, and the stats and film room evidence back that up.
That’s not all:
He is an amazing glue guy. With his energy and his toughness and fearlessness he gives a young team in Boston a great amount of heart. There is not one aspect of Jae Crowder’s game that leaves you in awe, but he does everything well and the Celtics are better when he is on the floor. It’s easy to see why Brad Stevens likes leaving him out there for heavy minutes.
Players’ Tribune – Elite ‘Glue Guys’ 101
That article was written by Shane Battier, who made a career of being a glue guy (defined as a player who makes everything work and who does little things to win games). Battier listed three others: Tim Duncan, Draymond Green (there he is again) and Andre Iguodala. That’s the level at which Jae Crowder is perceived now. No wonder we’re optimistic about the future of the Celtics.
Related: MassLive – Crowder honored to be on Shane Battier’s ‘glue guy’ list
On Page 2: ‘We’re homers. It’s who we are, it’s what we’re supposed to do.’
What does it mean to be the voice of a team?
When you’re the voice of the team, you can root for the team.
One of the things I’ve found, which is kind of fun, when I’ve done national games, I used to root for both teams. ESPN would get letters from people for a game I did claiming I was a homer for both sides. And I was like, exactly right, I did my job.
Now, I’m just a homer for the Celtics. I try not to be irrational, but I want the Celtics to win every game. I make no bones about that.
Some guy went off on Twitter the other night. NBA TV picked us up and we were shown nationally. He’s screaming, “Are these guys announcers or are they homers?” We’re homers. It’s who we are, it’s what we’re supposed to do.
If you became a Celtics fan anytime in the last 35 years, Mike Gorman has been your TV play-by-play announcer. He and Tommy Heinsohn have worked together longer than any other NBA announcing tandem ever, which fits right in with the traditions of the league’s most historic franchise.
Mike’s reference to complaints from fans of other teams is amusing, because it’s so true. People who aren’t used to Mike and Tommy are routinely outraged by them. I’ve literally unfollowed people on Twitter who’ve slandered our guys. We know they are biased, but only we can say so.
Some good news in the interview is that Mike mentions Tommy has signed a new two-year contract. It’s difficult to imagine Celtics games without them. Here’s hoping we all get to enjoy their work for many more years.
And, finally: Are the Celtics No. 4?
A quick, clear aside: I’m not suggesting the Celtics are somehow unpopular. Even in the team’s past two relatively fallow years, average attendance for games at TD Garden has been at or near capacity. The people here who care about the C’s care a lot. On the other hand, walk into any Boston bar during the NBA season, and if the Bruins, Red Sox, or Patriots are on at the same time as the Celtics, the former three will always take precedence — no matter the bar and no matter the stakes. If they’re lucky, the C’s might get thrown onto one of the bar’s smaller TVs, but even then it’s hard to feel like they’re anything but a last resort.
Sports Illustrated – Why Are The Celtics An Afterthought In Boston?
That headline – talk about a loaded question. This commentary makes the case that the Cs are fourth in popularity among Boston sports fans, a topic that arises from time to time and is pertinent again because this Celtics squad is a lovable, scrappy group of overachievers.
Are the Celtics No. 4? If we’re talking about the consensus of all fans of all Boston teams, then the answer is probably “yes.” But that’s only right now. The popularity rankings run in cycles.
Surely, the Celtics were the rock stars of Boston during the Bird era. The Bruins were gods during the Bobby Orr days. The Red Sox had the Impossible Dream in 1967 and, later, three World Series titles in eight years. The Patriots won three Super Bowls in four years and captured another just one season ago.
Without pretending to be a sociologist, here are some thoughts about current influences:
- Bruins fans follow the Bruins and Celtics fans follow the Celtics. There’s not much crossover. Using myself as an example: I like the Bs, but this season was the first time I made the effort to attend a Bruins game in person – and that’s because I took advantage of a same-day, day/night doubleheader at the Garden with the Celtics. Seeing two games in one day was fun, but am I going back to see hockey on its own? No.
- The NFL is the biggest, most popular league in America. The Patriots, for good and bad reasons, are football’s most high-profile team. And, with the possible exception of David Ortiz, Tom Brady is Boston’s mega-star. How are the no-name Celtics supposed to compete with that?
- The Red Sox have been around for more than a century. There’s no denying the Sox are more embedded in the local culture than are the Celtics.
- Sports talk on radio and TV is dominated by the Patriots and Red Sox. And some of the hosts (Felger and Mazz, anyone?), don’t know enough to talk about the Celtics coherently.
- It would be naïve to dismiss race as a factor. No doubt, some sports fans believe the NBA is “too black.” To those people: Stay away, we don’t want you to follow the Celtics.
Celtics fans are intense and incredibly loyal. We are always there for our guys, while fans who focus more on the Sox, Pats or Bruins will only pay attention when the Cs are winning. It is what it is, and Mike Gorman agrees, with this quote from the “Page 2” article above:
Is there a business concern in those bad years that fewer wins means fewer viewers?
Without question. Having grown up here, I’ve always maintained that Boston primarily is a hockey town. In its heart, it’s a hockey town. It’s not a Patriots town. It’s not a Red Sox town. I know people think that, but I think it’s a Bruins town. I’ve always thought that.
The Patriots have a wonderful following. The Red Sox have had great, great runs. But in its heart, it’s a hockey town.
When we would get these terribly low ratings in the ’90s, I told the guys, all the team has to do is get good and the numbers will jump up vociferously. The Celtics fans are out there, but they say, “Hey, call us when you’re good again.” And the die-hard fans are always there rain or shine, but it rained for a long time.
But all you have to do is go back to the Garnett-Pierce-Allen teams to understand. Boston became a Celtics city once again.
Related: Herald – Buckley: Celtics cure what’s ailing starved Boston fans
The Rest of the Links:
MassLive – Boston Celtics trade rumors 2016: Al Horford talks reportedly cool; Celtics wary of offering big contract | What type of player do Boston Celtics need? Head coach Brad Stevens explains | Jae Crowder, Evan Turner protective of current Boston Celtics roster as trade deadline approaches | Kevin Love ‘expected to remain’ in Cleveland, but Boston Celtics still ‘aiming’ for big deal (reports)
Celtics.com – New Court, Old Flair