Boston's three newest Celtics were introduced this morning at a press conference in Allston, and as you'd expect it was a pretty laid back and lighthearted affair. Or at least that's the impression I got from stories, highlights and Twitter.
It looked like a lot of smiling and posing; a lot of pleasantries, to use the parlance of our times. Hell, the Celtics even performed an entire set of Fab Melo material.
"And is he your academic advisor, too?" Danny Ainge asked Melo, after the rookie introduced the crowd to business manager Rodrigo Viegas. (By the way, Rodrigo is already my favorite Boston sports sidekick since Nelson de la Rosa.)
"We have no tests, I told (Melo) that yesterday, Rivers said in an interview with ESPN New York Radio. I jokingly told him, I said, Listen were going to introduce you tomorrow and wed going to do a Read to Achieve thing (with young students). Are you OK with that?
It was a bundle of laughs, but also an interesting and strategic way for the Celtics to approach Melo's questionable time at Syracuse.
Bottom line: They didn't run away from it. They put everything out in the open. They literally made it a laughing matter. In the process, they let Melo know that it's not a big deal. They made it harder for other people to make it a big deal. By joking about Melo's past, the Celtics were essentially B-Rabbit tossing the mic to Papa Doc (the media) at the end of 8 Mile:
"Now tell these people something they don't know about me!"
And I loved it. At times, this Celtics regime has been accused of (and taken pride in) being Belichickian, but today was not one of those times. Today, the Celtics were real. They handled a potential media firestorm with grace and confidence, and the result is likely one less thing for Melo to worry about moving forward.
If I have one concern, it's that Doc and the Celtics won't realize when the jokes stop being funny. For instance, back when Big Baby was here, Doc loved taking jabs at Baby's weight. Why? Partly, because it would always get a laugh from reporters. But also because Davis was an easy target, and a guy Doc thought needed to be tougher. After so many years, the jokes became predictable, unproductive and only added to the tension between two.
Just something to think about if Doc's still making "stupid" jokes this winter. But for now, it's all good. The first press conference is in the books and the education of Fab Melo can begin.