January 18, 2012

The Celtics' Big 4: The End of an Era?

While I consider myself a true Celtics fan, I must first issue the disclaimer that I initially became one when I met my husband, because, while some things are better kept separate in a relationship, sports, much like political affiliation, are more easily enjoyed when you're on the same team -- no pun intended. That being said, I've been a de facto fan for the interim of our coupledom. So, I am comfortable saying that I'm a fan, adding to my legitimacy being that I played post on my middle school basketball team, of course.

Like many things pop-culture related, my favorite aspect of the basketball team is the characters, the personalities, the players (and yes, their wives too). For the past several years, the Celtics' roster has held a particularly colorful cast of characters, in particular, the Big 4 cohort, consisting of Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, and Rajon Rondo. While most fans' favorites are either Kevin Garnett or Rajon Rondo, my personal favorite has been the hardworking and nimble Ray Allen. I am always charmed by a shy guy, an understated man with a tough, hardworking exterior and a gentle soul. He may not be as showy as Garnett, who bangs his head on the stem of the basketball hoop before every game, or as outgoing and free-spirited as Pierce, but he's the man who gets the job done, with just the right amount of focus and finesse. Plus, he has great calves.

Favorite players aside, however, the recent rumors of a major Celtics shift and the possible let-go of the holy trinity (Pierce, Allen, and Garnett)/Big 4 has put me in a slightly dismal mood. This is possibly in part due to the dissolving of a troupe who sought history in together leading the team to an NBA Championship in 2008, and getting quite close again in 2009, but it would also represent the end of an era, and more importantly, the fading away of a group of intriguing characters that has held my attention and loyalty for the past four-plus years.

I will not retire my Celtics fanship if the team breaks up, because as I recalled earlier I was a fan pre-Big 4, but I, along with other solid fans, will suffer great heartbreak. This particular team will not easily, if ever, be replaced. I had always held the safe assumption that Pierce, who has been a lifelong Celtics player, was going to die a Celtic, or at least retire as one; and that Garnett, a well-respected player prior to joining the Celtics, who became immediately inaugurated into the team's culture, would forever be a Celtic too. And yes, I believed the same to be true for Ray Allen, who at nearly 37 is a physical freak of nature for an NBA player who's natural representation of the Celtics' traditionally puritanic culture -- humble, dedicated, and hardworking -- implied that he would always be part of the team.

If the rumors lead to reality, it will be a sad day for Boston and beyond. But for now, I'll remain hopeful that the song remains the same.

Photo Credit: AP

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