Delonte West Signs with Celtics to Win, Not to Scare LeBron James

1 09 2010

The normally placid air of the early-September NBA blogoville was momentarily interrupted today with one piece of hot news. It brought us back to the seediest rumor of last year’s playoffs, a time my innocent mind would rather forget.

As reported by Gary Washburn, the Celtics have added Delonte West to shore up their backcourt off the bench. In case you forget, the Celtics are the defending East champs and one of Miami’s chief rivals. In case you double-forget, there was a strong rumor (based on little actual evidence) last spring that West slept with LeBron James’ mother, therefore affecting the former Cavs star’s play and rendering him ineffective for the pivotal Game 5 against Boston.

When the news of West’s deal with Boston broke, many mature thinkers — including noted sage Bill Simmons — took to Twitter to claim that this was Boston’s, or maybe West’s, direct response to LeBron. With the power of Delonte and his penchant for MILFs, the Celtics would get inside LeBron’s head and make him irrelevant in all head-to-head contests next season. Never mind that the West/James tryst has never been proven or that the entire episode is based on a series of assumptions about when and how LeBron found out. From many descriptions, you’d think the NBA were American Pie, with LeBron Stifler finding out about Delonte Finch sleeping with his mother and not being able to deal with the thought of it ever again.

The West MILF saga always struck me as stupid, and thankfully I never had to write about it since my bosses at forbade me from mentioning it on the site. Then again, it was undoubtedly a big story on some of the goofier blogs around, so it’s not as if it should just be forgotten right now.

Of course, mentioning it is slightly different than using it as the primary basis for the Celtics’ signing. West played for the Celtics before being dealt to the Sonics in the 2007 Ray Allen trade, and he’s proven that he can be a useful player for a contender, even if his gun troubles from last summer make him slightly less dependable than previously thought.

The Celtics are trying to win championships, not engage in some form of half-baked psychological warfare. They already have Kevin Garnett’s angry faces for that.


Miami’s Bad Boys III Trio at Peace with Villainy

18 08 2010

Sports  and leagues thrive when battle lines are drawn starkly. That’s why American fans are so drawn to clear winners and losers, and why soccer is obviously a tool of socialist spies trying to get us to share with each other.

These attractive divisions also extend to good and evil. After their machinations this summer, the Miami Heat are clearly in the camp of the dark lord, piecing together a surely unbeatable squad that will threaten the 1995-96 Bulls’ record of 72 wins and treat the playoffs like their personal two-month-long birthday party. Plus, they did so with little regard for anyone else in the league, thinking little of precious competitive balance (because, you know, every NBA team always starts the season with a chance to win a championship) and, in the case of Chris Bosh and LeBron James, leaving their old teams under less-than-deal circumstances.

See you later, Kobe Bryant, you’re no longer the top villain in the NBA. Thankfully, the Heat seem to recognize their new status and aren’t here to make friends. Just check out this interview with Dwyane Wade from Matt Moore of NBA Facts and Rumors:

I understand being the villain is what people like. People play to that. They want to know about the villain. They don’t want to know about the good. They say they do, but statistics show that they don’t. The thing is, I don’t do these things for recognition, being a good teammate, being a positive member of the community. I do them because those things make me whole and complete. A lot of that negativity? It’s just speculation. You’ve gotta deal with it and move on. I’ve learned that not everyone’s going to be 100% DWade.

There’s a bizarre amalgam here of acceptance of villainy and rejection of the same. On one hand, Wade notes that he can’t please everyone no matter what he does. Then again, he also trumpets his own charitable activity while also saying that he doesn’t do them for recognition, even though this is an interview designed to draw attention to his Wade’s World Charity Weekend. That’s a brutal combination of fake humility and a lack of self-awareness.

But wait, there’s more. Heat forward and Entourage co-star Chris Bosh also did an interview that touched on Heat hate, this time with Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated:

“It’s a healthy hate,” he said. “When the Lakers came to town, I hated the Lakers. It’s what you need as motivation to beat these guys. We know we’re going to get a team’s best every single night. We know we’re going to get the crowds best every single night. We have a big ‘X’ on our back. People are saying our team is not good for basketball. We’re going to hear everything. It’s OK. It’s going to happen. We just have to win and keep on moving.”

These comments are mostly harmless, but Bosh nonetheless is making a common argument of villains everywhere: people hate us because we’re beautiful, because they want to be us and can’t. It’s a statement of arrogance, which few like. And to make matters worse, the Heat haven’t even won anything yet.

I’ve written before about the Heat’s need to accept their villainous nature, and it appears as if they’re doing so with no problem. The league needs a good villain every once in a while, particularly if that team also wins. One of my key complaints about the Duncan-led Spurs in their prime is that they never fully embraced their villainy. (Of course, that failure has also made them somewhat lovable in their old age.)
The Heat, however, have taken on their new role with no problem. In the end, it may make them a more acceptable part of the NBA world, even if they’re hated. After all, everyone wants Hannibal Lecter to escape at the end of Silence of the Lambs. Sometimes, the villain can become more exciting than our heroes.