The Boston Celtics v. Mole-People Referee Masseuses

The weekend was troublesome with meeting my self-imposed deadline of Monday night for writing these things. Three barbecues over the holiday—the weekend immediately after traipsing through the Caribbean—and polishing off a bottle of Don Julio tends to weaken your resolve to do even the most menial of tasks. I also didn’t get to watch any of the ball games I intended to catch, either. My cable company (“It’s Comcrapstick!”) must’ve finally caught on they screwed up the initial install and I’ve been receiving channels I wasn’t meant to for the last year and a half. So long NESN. Goodbye ESPN. Ta-ta Cartoon Network. With what I’ve got now I might as well start covering Peewee baseball games that are occasionally broadcast on the Quincy cable access.

The Don will not tolerate any sort of physical activity, no matter how effortless.

Bah. This laziness must be overcome. It’s not like there isn’t anything to write about. For one thing, the Celtics pulled off a 4-2 series win over the Magic. The win is impressive if you were actually nervous the Magic stood a chance to catch up. All the same, Boston did have reason to be anxious. While difficult to pull off, these against the wall rallies have happened, once by Boston (the Sox-Yanks 2004 playoffs, which led to the biggest choke in baseball history) and another to Boston (the Bruins being the Bruins).

There’s also the matter of the referees being in the bag for the Magic. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if one of the refs gave Dwight Howard a full body massage with the requisite happy ending during halftime. I know it sounds incredible, but when you’re calling that many ghostly fouls, anything is possible. I happen to be in possession of a conversation between Dwight Howard and an unnamed referee that spilled onto a spectator’s phone call. Here’s a partial transcript:

REF: Mr. Howard?
DH: Yes?
REF: Good game out there.
DH: Oh, uh, thanks.
REF: You look a little knotted up.
DH: I have been feeling tense. These games stress the piss outta me.
REF: Kinda like Beijing, eh?
DH: Nah. The Celtics can actually put up a fight.
REF: Don’t worry, Mr. Howard. We’re doing what we can. You want a massage?
DH: Excuse me?
REF: I’m a licensed masseuse.
DH:Yeah?
REF: Still got ten minutes before halftime’s up.
DH: All right. [claps once] Let’s do this.

…and so on.

Now, I won’t charge that the game was totally fixed, because that level of complex thought and organization is something NBA officials are clearly incapable of achieving. I will say that the officiation of that game was on par with some of the little league games I played where the umpire happened to be the uncle of the team manager’s son who was a horrible player and still managed to be on the active roster. I sat on the bench a lot, and it is by far the best seat in the house for watching invisible infractions.

To be fair, most referees belong to a subspecies of Homo sapiens sapiens whose eyesight evolved alongside moles.

Anyway, I was at a bar in Somerville Friday night, casually discussing the whole deal with a friend of mine. (For the purposes of this and future writeups, I’ll name him Booger.) The conversation took a personal turn when we started talking about the possibility of a choke and I mentioned Dan Shaughnessy’s column in the Globe I glanced at that morning, in which he wrote

Let’s try some numbers, shall we? Big league baseball, basketball, and hockey have been playing best-of-seven series for more than 100 years, and in that time, 287 teams have taken leads of three games to none (thank you, Elias Sports Bureau). Only four teams have recovered from 3-0 to win the series. And now it’s going to happen twice within a span of 16 days? In the same city?

A 2007 issue of the Boston Phoenix conclusively proves Booger's feelings are far from unique.

“Seriously, fuck that guy,” he said disdainfully. He was more effusive in his explanation than I probably am with my paraphrasing here—I may even be making a few things up—but he had a good explanation for making Dan Shaughnessy a target of derision. Unlike myself, Booger grew up in the greater Boston era and a significant percentage of his personal happiness was filtered through the prism of wandering the MLB desert from 1918–2004. Seth Meyers most succinctly said it best in 2003: “If Boston rooted for gravity, we’d all be floating three inches off the ground right now.” However, once the unthinkable happened and Bill Bruckner was not there to let what was once a pipe dream fly between his legs, Booger’s outlook changed. He resolved to remain positive, and Dan Shaughnessy was one of those negative ninnies he needed to cut out of his life.

My feelings toward Mr. S are completely ambivalent, probably because I don’t ordinarily ever read his columns. Truth told, I didn’t read his Friday column beyond the lede and an infographic that looked suspiciously similar to one used in stories attempting to sort out recent electoral untidiness in the UK. You know what I’m talking about, that election that was supposed to be more US-style and everyone somehow wound up losing. Anyway, my gut feeling says Shaughnessy’s a one-trick pony whose trick suddenly became worthless after a couple of championship rings shattered the illusion of the hardest-working losers in baseball.

Booger and I didn’t continue talking about the Celtics after this, and they won anyway. Now we can move onto more important things. The sportswriting intelligentsia may now cream over another earth shattering match-up of rivals. Time must be scheduled for practicing “Beat LA” chants, or—for the baser segment of Celtics Nation—working tasteless remarks alluding to Kobe Bryant’s rape trial into a catchy rhyme scheme.

Or, I can take a page from Shaq’s book. He can’t dribble a ball, rap, act, or make a foul shot to save his life, but god bless that tall bastard for “Kobe, how my ass taste?”.

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