The team that time forgot

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The team that time forgot

By Rich Levine
CSNNE.com

Last night, while the Bruins and Canadiens did battle in Montreal, Dumb & Dumber was playing on Encore.

At the same time, Celtic Pride was playing on Starz.

I know this because I got sucked into both of them.

Even though the Sox were on the other NESN, and the NBA Playoffs were on TNT, whenever there was a break in Bruins action (time outs, intermissions, that time the refs ran off to accept an unmarked briefcase from the mayor of Montreal), I was back and forth between those two movies.

I couldnt help it.

My obsession with the first movie needs no explanation. The second? Whatever. I know Celtic Pride isnt great, but it came out when I was 16, and it was about the Celtics. Of course I was going to watch it over and over and over. Now, it has a special place in my heart. What can I say?

I. LIKE. IT. A. LOT.

I . . . I . . . I desperately want to make love to a school boy!

Wait, what I meant was . . .

Oh right, the Bruins were on, but I kept on getting lost in those two movies. Reciting the same lines, laughing at the same jokes. For one night, it was like the '90s all over again.

I didnt realize the symbolism in this until the game was over and the Bruins were once again on the verge of playoff heartbreak.

You see, the '90s were a difficult time for Boston sports fans. Its the only decade (since the city picked up four teams) that didnt produce a title. At the time, local teams were almost always the underdogs. Or worse, they were just never the favorites. They were average, middle-of-the-road teams. They were streaky and inconsistent squads that sporadically gave you a reason to celebrate, but far more often left you heartbroken. They really tested your faith.

Obviously, that changed with the Patriots first Super Bowl, and since then, the Celtics, Sox and Pats have taken off to a level of performance and expectations that were once unfathomable.

But the Bruins are still stuck in that '90s mentality. Through all the changes this city has undergone, the Bs are still right where they were. Still experiencing the same growing pains, and leaving Boston with the same stomach pains.

The Bruins are the team that time forgot. A living history of everything Boston sports fans endured throughout that decade, right up until the ionic moment when Jason Varitek split the uprights.

This can be both good and bad.

For instance, unlike the Celtics, the Bruins are a team thats still building towards greatness, instead of holding on to whats left of it. When we look ahead, its excitement. With the Celtics, its indecision and fear.

Unlike the Red Sox, the Bruins dont have the unfair financial advantage. When they win, theres nothing to say except: Theyre the better team. Other teams cant cry poor, only weak or stupid. And that's fine. That's sports.

Unlike the Patriots, the Bruins dont have that unhealthy expectation of winning every single time they take the field (or ice). They dont have the nationwide legions of haters, and bad blood stirred up by Spygate and whatever else people are complaining about. Outside of Montreal, the Bs are never really the bad guys.

The Bruins are almost the only team in this city that you can still root for without somehow feeling like youre the bad guy. Not that anyone's losing sleep over the fact that other cities hate them, but theres a certain enjoyment that comes with the Bruins experience, and not enduring that constant loathing from the rest of the country. You can root for the Bruins the way you used to root for all Boston teams, before becoming at least somewhat jaded by success and lofty expectations. (Can the Cs win 70? Can the Sox win 100? Will the Pats go undefeated?) Honestly, it's refreshing.

But with that '90s-style, guilt-free experience comes other nostalgic feelings.

Disappointment. Emptiness. Helplessness.

Will they ever figure this out? Is this ever going to happen? How can they finally get over the hump and break free from a time and place that the rest of Boston left in its dust so long ago? Why does it always have to be something? Never smooth; never according to plan. Just an emotional roller coaster followed by a head-on collision and ultimately tragedy.

What will it take?

For starters, a win tonight at the Garden against Montreal. Without that the Bruins remain stuck in neutral for yet another year. Can they do it? Sure. They can always do it.

But I'd still keep an eye on those movie channels. Just in case we need a diversion from disaster.

Rich Levine's column runs each Monday, Wednesday and Friday on CSNNE.com. Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

Ortiz: Yankees fans' booing 'wakes up the monster in me'

Ortiz: Yankees fans' booing 'wakes up the monster in me'

In his 1-on-1 interview with CSN Red Sox Insider Sean McAdam, David Ortiz thanks Yankees fans, ahead of his final series at Yankee Stadium, for the motivation they’ve given him throughout his Red Sox career. 

He expressed a similar sentiment in this post on The Players' Tribune website.

 

Stevens’ first practice observation: ‘We’re going to be able to fly around’

Stevens’ first practice observation: ‘We’re going to be able to fly around’

WALTHAM, Mass. –  Before the Celtics fully stretched prior to their first practice of the season, coach Brad Stevens had his players go 5-on-5 in a not-live breakdown while going at about 30 percent full speed or similar to what they would do in a walk-through.

“If that was 30 percent, we’re going to be able to fly around,” said Stevens. “I think it was just a misjudging of what 30 percent is. They were flying early on in practice. We have to be able to fully rotate, we have to guard different positions, you gotta be able to read the game instinctively and obviously there’s an athletic component that allows you to do so effectively.”

Regardless, the Celtics are a team that will rely more on their athleticism in past seasons in order to be effective and live up to the lofty expectations so many have for them this season.

“We have a real good team, real athletic at a lot of spots,” Celtics forward Amir Johnson told CSNNE.com. “We definitely got a couple more high-flyers in the building this year.”

He’s speaking about Gerald Green, a former Slam Dunk champion, and Jaylen Brown, who is considered one of the more athletic players among this year’s rookie class.

And that athleticism was indeed on display in the early moments of the team’s first practice of the season.

But what makes the Celtics a team that could potentially be a major player in the East, is that the increased athleticism is now married to a team whose skill level is underrated.

Talent and athleticism is certainly a bonus for any team.

But the Celtics know the road to being among the game’s elite is long and winding, a journey that they are just beginning to embark on right now.

And while there are plenty of directions that Stevens can put a greater focus on in these early days, it doesn’t appear the Celtics' leader will go that route.

“We’ve got a lot being installed,” Stevens said. “We’ll keep the emphasis on being a blue-collar team and playing together.”