Boston Celtics -- hell, we'll call him this -- legend Kevin Garnett is a free agent this summer. So is Ray Allen, the NBA's all-time leader in made 3-pointers. Paul Pierce has another year left before his contract can become mostly unguaranteed, and Rajon Rondo has been involved in trade rumors quite literally since the day he was drafted by another team back in 2006. As Yahoo! Sports' Marc Spears pointed out on Thursday, the Celtics are living in a state of impermanence.
As the season swings back and forth, and the team trades inspiring wins with ugly losses, it seems appropriate amongst this group of knowing veterans that an evocative voice in the locker room would stand up. And, as you'd expect, a clarion call has bounced off those locker room walls several times this season. And, as you wouldn't expect in a million years, that voice belongs to Mickael Pietrus. You heard me. According to Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald, the journeyman forward has been calling out the C's all season long:
Pietrus singled out teammates by name. He was careful to be respectful, but he was also critical. As the new guy he undoubtedly raised a few eyebrows, but that didn't stop Pietrus from standing up in a room that is ruled and policed by the most veteran group of future Hall of Famers in the NBA.
Murphy goes on to point out that Mickael didn't just stop with the speech he gave his team on Feb. 10, following an embarrassing loss to the lowly Toronto Raptors. He's been pressing the boys -- the men -- since then.
(I don't want to be too insensitive when I point out that the idea of Mickael Pietrus' heavy Guadeloupian accent (as evidenced here) could leave some on the other end of his pet talks a little giggly, but the way he articulates what it means to be a professional, and a winner? As, again, evidenced here? I'd line up behind this man. Even if his shot selection leaves a little to be desired.)
The Celtics, according to Murphy, weren't keen on confirming his well-sourced accounts of Pietrus' derring-do. Boston captain Paul Pierce, according to Mark, "responded with a suspicious frown and shook his head when asked about Pietrus' pep talk." That's par for the course for NBA teams, to keep such things in house. It's about as par for the course as it is for sports writers to use the phrase "par for the course."
Boston will make the playoffs, you know. They're a few games up on those battling Knicks and Bucks, and they've worked this before. The team looked nearly as middling during this time of year back in 2010, and responded with a run that led to a seventh game of the Finals and a close loss while working without their injured starting center. These things can happen again, even if the squad pulls Miami in the first round. They're smarter than you. And, as Marc pointed out earlier on Thursday, they know how to appreciate these things.
The team still can't score. The C's are 27th in the NBA in offensive efficiency. It relies on Rajon Rondo's engaging if unreliable shooting touch and Paul Pierce's declining fortunes in the clutch. It leans on Kevin Garnett, out-muscled by some small forwards, in the pivot. And Mickael Pietrus is giving locker room speeches.
Doesn't matter. Doubt them at your own peril, Eastern Conference.
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