The 2013 Boston Celtics are already talking about their desire to prove people wrong this upcoming season. Jeff Green and Jared Sullinger have pushed their chips into the middle of the table. They are all in, it's apparent at the Summer League games in Orlando. They were sitting with Brad Stevens, planning and scheming. Completely involved and even entering the huddle to give their two-cents to the aspiring NBA players.
With the departure of Doc Rivers, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen the term Ubuntu has been retired. The old battle cry of the 2008-2013 Celtics is dead. With that death comes the resurrection of an even older term, invoked by Jared Sullinger in an interview with Yannis Koutroupis of Hoopsworld.com: Celtic Pride.
Sullinger was very stoic in the interview, offering his thoughts on the upcoming season and how it ties into his individual basketball journey up to this point. "It's been like that for all my life, one moment I can't do this, one moment I can't that, I'm not athletic enough, I can't play. Now we're gonna tank a season? I mean, it's only a matter of time before we put these doubters to shame…you gotta have Celtic Pride."
Clearly, Sullinger is excited. He dropped in the 2012 Draft due to back issues, and the Celtics took a chance on him. He had surgery following an impressive first half of the season; now he's chomping at the bit to get back on the court and compete.
It's exciting to see this team take pride in being Celtics. It's something fans will respect. They come across as defiant, much like their assumed leader, Rajon Rondo. The collection of players on this team has had to prove themselves every step of the way. Whether is was Courtney Lee last year being buried on Doc's bench, or Kelly Olynyk upon his return from a sophomore red-shirt season at Gonzaga, or Jared Sullinger's "below the rim" style, or Rajon Rondo and his poor shooting. This group of players has been told they cannot do it, that they do not have the proper skills to succeed. Now is their chance to do so: as a team, as Celtics.
One thing that seems very clear with this group thus far, they have some spunk, and they might also come across as likeable; a popular word in Boston sports vernacular.
However, pride and "likeability" alone will not win games, especially in a star driven league like the NBA. It does not seem that anyone will accuse this team of tanking. It seems like they have the pieces in place to play hard and defiant basketball. Maybe that will put the "doubters to shame." Maybe it will generate fun basketball. Maybe they will surprise Celtic Nation.
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