The press conference that never was

The press conference that never was
June 21, 2013, 1:45 pm
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For about 45 minutes this morning, it appeared as if the Celtics were finally ready to let everyone in on the madness. At the very least, in sending out an official press release for a joint press conference with Doc Rivers and Danny Ainge, they were going to try. And as soon the announcement was circulated throughout the Internets, speculation grew as to what the two could possibly have in store. How much would they say? How much could they say? Would it be real talk or more spin? An end to the insanity or another dose of crazy pills?

Ultimately, it was nothing. Because the press conference was postponed. Of course, not as officially as it was announced (the team never sent out another release), but at this point we know it’s not happening. We know that there’s zero end in sight. We know that, for a team as image-conscious and perception-obsessed as the Celtics, the organization has to be very aware and unhappy with how ridiculous they look in the aftermath of this latest debacle within a debacle. After all, the way in which this has all played out is something you might expect from the Knicks or the Wizards, or certainly the Clippers, but the Celtics are supposed to be different. They pride themselves on being different. But after this, in the court of public opinion, they’re the same.

At this point, no one working within the framework of this mess is free of criticism. Not either team or any of the individuals involved, who have leaked information every step along the way in the name of pushing agendas, forcing the hand of others and manipulating public perception. Not the media, which has more than willing to serve as the messenger of manipulation, in the name of clicks and retweets. Not anyone of us on Twitter, the ones who do all the retweeting and react as if each minute-by-minute update is an absolute fact regardless of how many times that proves to be untrue. The truth is that we all have a part in this. That’s just the state of sports in 2013. And it sucks. As great as all of this technology is, stuff like this leaves you nostalgic for a time when it sometimes took up to 24 hours for a reporter to relay the news, and teams were allowed to negotiate without every step being blown out of proportion and sabotaging the ultimate goal.

Because really, that’s all this is: Negotiation. It’s an ugly game. A cruel game. A desperate game. As anyone who’s spent time on either side of any significant negotiation will tell you, there are a few thing in the world more frustrating and infuriating. It brings out the worst in people. The most selfish and cold-blooded person inside all of us. It’s like the great Sidney Deane once said: “You either smoke, or you get smoked.” And right now, every player in this game is trying to smoke the hell out of each other in the attempt to get what they want.

Chris Paul wants Doc to coach the Clippers. Doc wants to coach KG and Chris Paul on the Clippers (assuming that Danny Ainge won’t let him coach both KG and Paul Pierce on the Celtics). Ainge wants to get what he feels to be fair compensation for the two (or if you include Pierce, three) most important people on his pay roll. Donald Sterling wants to be Donald Sterling. David Stern wants to be David Stern. They’re the ones who will ultimately be judged by the way this all shakes out, and every party is going to every extent to make sure it shakes out the right way. But in doing so, from the outside looking in, it sure seems like they’re doing a lot of things the wrong way, and today’s press conference that never was is just the latest example.

At the same time, it’s hard to argue that it was ineffective, because moments after the Celtics called off the media session, the deal with the Clippers found another life. Sides are reportedly back at the table, and it’s believed that this potential press conference may have played a role. And if this next surge in communication leads to a resolution to this mess, what can you say?

It sucks to have to feel like we’re all pawns this game, but the truth is that it’s not our game. We’re just following along, living and dying with every update, trying to make sense of a situation that we don’t have nearly enough information to make sense of. It’s a losing battle. In the meantime, all we can do is hope that the battle ends sometime soon, trust that everyone involved, right up to the top of the ladder, wants and needs this to end sometime soon, and that this latest embarrassing development was nothing but another tactic to ensure that that happens.

I’d say “stay tuned,” but “wake me when it’s over” is probably the safer option.