Celtics hit the win column for the first time

Celtics hit the win column for the first time
November 7, 2013, 11:15 am
Share This Post

OK, so apparently 0-82 isn’t in the cards for the 2013-14 Boston Celtics. That’s because, last night at the TD Garden, they finally won their first game of the season, a gruesome and grinding war of stank against the Utah Jazz. It was also the first win of coach Brad Stevens’ NBA career, victory No. 1 in this new era of Celtics basketball. But before we jump too deep into those details, allow me this quick cinematic sidebar . . .
 
The movie White Men Can’t Jump will turn 22 years old in March.
 
Twenty-two years old!
 
That’s a slightly depressing piece of information for anyone old enough to remember when it was originally released, and here are a few more fun facts to help hammer that home:
 
* As it relates to the Celtics, White Men Can’t Jump is only three weeks younger than Jared Sullinger — the youngest player on this year’s squad. As it might someday relate to the Celtics, White Men Can’t Jump is three years older than Andrew Wiggins — the ideal light at the end of this frustrating tunnel.
 
* As it relates to the game in general, there are so many lines from White Men Can’t Jump still present in today’s basketball lexicon, but just to bring it back to Boston one more time, there’s one specific quote from that movie that rings truer than all that’s true about this current Celtics season.
 
“Your mother’s an astronaut!”
 
No. I’m kidding. Although that would explain a lot in Jordan Crawford’s case. Instead, I’m talking about these words of wisdom, courtesy of everyone’s favorite Chiquita nutcase . . . the lovely Gloria Clemente.
 
As told to Billy Hoyle:
 
“Sometimes when you win, you really lose, and sometimes when you lose, you really win, and sometimes when you win or lose, you actually tie, and sometimes when you tie, you actually win or lose. Winning or losing is all one organic mechanism, from which one extracts what one needs.”
 
Right. So, the Celtics won their first game of the season last night. But obviously, over the course of this particular season, it’s hard to take any win at face value. Or more, it’s incredibly difficult to determine what face value even is. Is a win really a win? Is a win sometimes a loss? Can you win and lose at the same time? And what about a tie? What is this soccer? Gloria, you better explain yourself or I’m in a good mind to call the Stucci brothers.
 
While we wait for her, here’s my own interpretation.
 
I’ll break it down in two parts:
 
Part 1: “Sometimes when you win, you really lose, and sometimes when you lose, you really win, and sometimes when you win or lose, you actually tie, and sometimes when you tie, you actually win or lose.”
 
Translation: Sometimes smaller, more frivolous wins can come at the expense of greater, more significant victory. In other words, sometimes winning a battle contributes to losing the war.
 
Part 2: “Winning or losing is all one organic mechanism, from which one extracts what one needs.”
 
Translation: Even if part one is true, and for these Celtics it most definitely is, it’s not always true. There are no absolutes when it comes to winning and losing. Just because a win is really a loss one night, doesn’t mean that a win can’t be a win the next. And last night’s win was most definitely the latter. It was a win that was a win in a season where most wins are losses, and the results of the war won’t be determined until Andrew Wiggins is shaking hands with Adam Silver while donning a brand new awkward-looking hat.
 
The truth is that the Celtics needed a win last night. A real win. Why? Because they were never going 0-82 this season. At some point victory No. 1 was coming. And after everything this team had gone through over the first week of what will be an incredibly long season, the time had arrived. Brad Stevens needed it to get off the snide so that he could have something to build on, something to quiet the constant rumbling, and something to lift his team’s spirits before they completely tuned him out. For those same reasons, the players needed it. They needed a win so that they could feel like NBA players again. So that they could remember what it’s like to be rewarded for their hard work. So that they didn’t have to live with the aftermath of another pathetic fourth-quarter collapse. So that for once this season, Gerald Wallace wouldn’t have something to complain about in the postgame locker room.  
 
Just kidding. He still found a reason to complain.
 
The fans needed it, too. Even if Celtics Nation knows what’s in store this season, and that wins — real, Boston-scores-more-points-than-their-opponent wins — will be few and far between. Even if they realize that the lack of wins might be what’s best for the long term. It still felt good to see the Celtics come out on top. To see them do it at home. To finally start the counter on Brad Stevens' hopeful climb into the ranks of the most successful coaches in franchise history. Or at least, to see him crawl one step closer to surpassing M.L. Carr.  
 
Now that win No. 1 is in the books, Boston can re-set its expectations accordingly, understand the unfortunate reality of what it often takes to experience a successful rebuild in the NBA, and remember that while this March marks 22 years since the release of White Men Can’t Jump, the Celtics most recently went 22 years (1986-2008) between NBA titles, and that no one — players, coaches, owners, fans — is ready or willing to wait another 22 years for the next one.
 
Follow me on Twitter: @rich_levine