Basketball: The Beast Trade aka Goodbye Perk.

So it was a normal day as usual. Got up, plonked myself down in front of the laptop and had a look at the Facebook feed to find out what else has been going on while I was comatose. And these words hit me right in the face.

My first reaction was: “OK, this must be Jay King’s idea of a sick joke or just some shit rumour that’s being passed around.” I clicked on the link and read the article in detail. Mood for the day rapidly evaporated, and I felt devastated. WTF PERK! Those two words echoed in my head for the rest of the day.

Reports talked about Perk and the rest crying upon hearing the trade news, I nearly did too because it just felt so unfair and unreasonable.

Later in the day, I watched the Celtics play crap ball and lose the game to the Nuggets without much reaction, wasn’t expecting them to put a win together after multiple trades that sent Perk, Quisy, Semih, Luke and Nate packing and a crater-sized dent in team morale.

(FYI, I didn’t like the idea of trading Semih or Luke either. Especially Semih.)

After more than twelve hours of digestion, I am starting to come to terms with Danny Ainge’s decision, but accepting it emotionally is another story altogether.

Why I hate the idea of Perkins leaving:

  • Perkins is our premier one-on-one defender against dominant centers (read: Dwight Howard, Andrew Bynum) in the league. Without him, we might have to start doubling up during defense. Baby is good but he’s no Perk.
  • Perkins is our starting center, one of the pieces that makes our offense and defense flow so well. Will Shaq be able to pick up the slack in the playoffs and play a ton of minutes every night? Don’t even get me started on Jermaine.
  • Perkins is one of the hardest working guys on the team. Doesn’t complain, shows up for every game and does all the dirty work – hedging, setting screens, rebounding. Look at how he worked his ass off on rehab to get himself back into game shape after tearing an ACL and undergoing the operation, look at how everyone cheered on his first game back! He will never be an All-Star but Perk most definitely deserves an A+ for effort and grit if nothing else. Are we right to trade him just like that, someone who deserves a ton of respect for what he does every night?

Why I think the Perkins trade has a certain amount of (twisted and unavoidable) logic to it:

  • Our much vaunted depth became perilously thin over the course of the season; constant injuries to the big men (Shaq/JO/Semih) were probably causing concern and we need a reasonably healthy center on the roster. Perk’s back from rehab but he just got bumped on the knee, which probably began raising health issue concerns all over again.
  • Celtics needed someone to back Pierce up = trade bait was needed somehow. No one’s going to give you decent players for free, not unless you’re the Lakers and Pau Gasol is given to you for practically nothing. The only really expendable one (due to poor performance) with any sort of value IMO was Nate, so someone else definitely had to be bundled to create a deal. Ideally we would’ve traded Nate and Jermaine but I guess no one’s going to be interested in Jermaine who hasn’t been in good health this season to begin with. I won’t talk about Quisy (injured), Luke (not good enough now) or Semih (injured) since they were sent off to create roster spaces and do not look to get much court time for the rest of the season anyway.
  • Perkins has not been improving his offensive skillset significantly over the recent seasons; still brings the ball low for power dribble before going up, limited post moves, almost non-existent mid-range. Not going to belittle his offensive contributions though; he sets awesome (sometimes moving) picks and knows the sets inside out which gets the rest of the guys free.
  • Perkins refused the initial contract extension because of the salary offered, and is sure to ask for more in the coming season because of how the center market is like. The Celtics are not prepared to commit that kind of money to him so there you go.
  • I really hate to say this but among the five starters, Perk is the one I would reluctantly place on the top spot if we had a “who-would-you-trade-if-you-had-no-choice” list.
  • Perk is going to the Thunder who seriously lack size at the center spot. Together with Nazr Mohammed from the Bobcats trade, they’re getting a serious upgrade. Giving them a boost means more trouble to the Western Conference = tougher road for the Lakers and Spurs = less rest. It’s about time too, too many people are moving to the East.

That’s about as much as I can write at this point; I’m quite sure Danny Ainge is setting himself up for a lynch mob if this doesn’t work out. I’m still kinda overwhelmed that Perk is gone, it feels odd to not see him in green anymore, but to be in OKC with the Thunder. No more incredulous looks followed by a T. No more menacing scowls. No more bumping opponents around the basket. No more ugly baby hook shots.

Goodbye for now, Perk. I’m glad I caught you up live on my first game at the Garden. You’ll always be the awesome Beast in green as far as I know, and I hope to see you back in Boston someday. Until then, take care.

Basketball: Notes on attending a Boston Celtics home game

So, first time heading down to a C’s home game at TD Banknorth Garden? I just had my first experience there a couple of weeks ago on the record breaker performance by Ray Allen, 10th Feb 2011. Needless to say, his career three-pointer #2,561 was a great moment in history. I’m glad I was there with my brother, as part of the ecstatic crowd as proud witnesses to that shot.

And of course, the subsequent implosion in the second half that led to a loss. Disappointing but the atmosphere was great to say the least; there sure are lots of wild and enthusiastic fans out there! A live game at the Garden is something you should never miss, especially if you’re a Celtics fan.

Here are some tips for my fellow Celtics out there, assorted bits and pieces that I wanted to know before my trip but was not readily available online.

Update: Check out Jeff Dearman’s comments on this post: great, great tips.

  • Getting there: You can walk or take the subway to North Station which takes you directly to the Garden itself.
    • Train: Get a CharlieCard from MBTA staff, using the card saves you money versus a CharlieTicket.
    • Walk: What I did was explore (aka walk) the Freedom Trail, and backtrack to the Garden after that. Explore Boston, and save on train fare, win-win! Not encouraged in mid-winter though, my brother and I nearly froze to bits doing the Freedom Trail in low 20s weather.
  • No bags: You’re not allowed to haul your own backpacks/bags into the game, period.
  • Merchandise:
    1. The Bruins Pro shop at the ground level of the Garden holds a variety of Celtics fan gear. They might not have your size (especially if you’re an S or M) so be prepared.
    2. There are a couple more stalls after you head up the escalator and gain admission, but it’s mostly the same stuff as the Bruins Pro shop. There’s a Fan Zone shop (upstairs as well) which stocks more stuff, but IMO most of what you want will be at the Pro Shop.
    3. Advice: avoid the post-game crowd and buy whatever you want before the game, you’re allowed to carry the stuff into the game with the clear bags they provide.
    4. There’s a silent auction corner which allows you to bid for vintage Celtics stuff, but you need to be willing to splurge to place bids.
    5. Champs Sports near Downtown Crossing station is another good place to look for Celtics merchandise, they seriously have a pretty wide variety of apparel, and some exclusive products at that.
  • Admission:
    • You don’t get in until an hour before game time for normal seats, so don’t bother with the queue. Go grab some chow, have a few beers or something then head back to the entrance at the right time. Right time = 1900hrs if it’s a 2000hrs game.
    • Premium (aka club seats) get in via another entrance 90 minutes before game time, but the view is not as good IMO since they are way up. I had loge seats at center court which IMO were really good seats. Horrible prices though.
  • Photography: Horrors of horrors, you forgot your camera? No worries, the fan photographer has you covered. He’ll snap some, give you a card with a gallery number and you head online after the game to check yourself out. Prices are not cheap (think $15-$20 range), but you get some pictures of yourself at least.
  • In-game freebies: The Celtics dancers and crew will be hurling freebies during timeouts but if you’re way up there in seating, chances are minimal.
  • Player autographs: An usher we chatted with before the game said we could try hanging around at the carpark until the players leave the Garden. Some guys have been known to get autographs that way, it all depends on how hardcore you are. Or you could try getting a Budweiser Legends Club member to get you in pre-game.
  • Early exit: TD Garden is relatively congestion-free with escalators and staircases readily accessible so leaving early is not really a must (unlike Madison Square Garden).
  • Most importantly: Let yourself go, enjoy the game! Dance if you want to, scream and cheer as hard as you can. After all, everyone around you is doing the same!

Hope these tips help someone in need! Leave a comment if you appreciate the post, cheers. Suggestions on improving the post would be welcome too.

For more Boston Celtics goodness, head over to Celtics Down Under – the Aussie Celtics community.