The Boston Celtics are defined by their toughness, whether it be mental, physical or how those old-timers prefer their steaks. An elbow here, a kneed knee there — whatever it takes, the Celtics are down to do it, usually with an accompanying scream, skirmish or stand-off. With a time full of grizzled veterans, that toughness seems to emanate from within, Thomas Kinkade-style.

Except, according to Orlando Magic GM Otis Smith, it’s all bunk. From the Orlando Sentinel:

“They act tough. They’re not really tough. They act tough … To say that we’re going to go ‘Aarrgghh!? No one does that in this league. At the end of the day, they’re all young men. They’re going to go out and play. One team is going to execute better than the other. That’s what it comes down to. It doesn’t come down to that kind of toughness.”

Yes. More of this please. We need some good old-fashioned trash talks between some good teams. Ragging on the Celtics for being fake tough guys is a pretty good zing, since it really gets at the heart of what makes them the Celtics.

Not to mention, it’s kind of a subliminal burn on Kevin Garnett, who is the engineer of that no nonsense, no shots after the whistle, take-no-guff bravado, not to mention the emotional leader of the team. Between this, the earlier Dwight stuff and the currently-dormant Shaq/Howard feud, this is developing nicely. That’s awesome.

(via Celtics Blog)

Comments (16)

  1. There’s no doubt that they act tough. But, they also are tough. They play about as tough a brand of physical defense as you can play. They grind out close game. They also are able to weather injuries to major players (they’ve had TONS of injuries this year, and it has had a negligible effect on the standings).

    Right to call them out on acting tough. But, to say “they’re not tough” is not accurate.

  2. Hard to be a tough guy when you’re making $12 million + per year. After the game when the players all hug and shake hands, I mean… Can’t call that a real rivalry. Back in the days guys hated each other and had motivation to win and be competitive ($ for furthering in playoffs)

    Not anymore.

  3. Well, this is going to go over very well on the blogosphere. I can hear my Boston friend’s heads already exploding.

    I think what Otis says about being relative is true. In today’s NBA, the Celtics are as tough as they come. They are identified as tough, they are afforded the ability to play a tougher style of basketball and yes, there is some machismo toughness thrown in there. But, by NBA toughness standards, are they really THAT “tough”? I don’t think so. The 89 Blazers would probably chop right through them IMO and the Pistons of the same era would probably give Glen Davis something to whine about (again).

    I love a physical brand of basketball, it’s a shame that it really doesn’t exist any longer. I am however confused at the Celtics (and their fans) disdain for the Orlando Magic. It’s staggering how much hate their is from one side to the other, I don’t really get it. You would think the Magic set fire to their house or something.

  4. Bingo in many ways. Sure they’re a tough team. But tougher than any other in the league? No sir. They prefer to display it like a peacock, strutting and preening while most everyone scratches their head. It clearly doesn’t intimidate other players, and seems it’s only true function is getting fans to cheer. So kudos I guess for the acting ability, but most everyone knows it’s all a silly act that got old really quick.

    Toughness would’ve gotten them a trophy last year. Oops!

  5. Who is a tougher team? I can think of only a few that would be considered.

  6. to say it doens’t get in other players heads would not be accurate, just ask andrey blatche or charlie V

    and as far as last year goes, KG was playing on one leg, pierce was regularly getting his knee drained (stories were it would pop and shoot fluid across the locker room), etc. plenty of stories of these guys toughing it out.

  7. I love this. The Celtics ARE tough in some regards, much in the same way KG is a tough guy in some regards. He’ll yap all game and spit trash at lesser guys- but you never see him yapping at Kobe or Duncan, and I doubt we’ll see him getting after Griffin when the two meet.

    The C’s play bullyball and smother lesser teams with what Simmons calls the “clogged toilet defense”. All of this is enabled or exascerbated, at least in Boston, by thousands of rabid, drunken massholes (a great, supportive fanbase, but in the pantheon of obnoxiousness.) But the Lakers exposed the fact that, despite the frustration of their nipple-twisting, jersey-grabbing, smothering defense, they often go minutes without being able to score the basketball. So if you play decent defense on THEM, you’ll probably be able to outscore them pretty easily.

    After last year I think elite teams see them coming. Come the playoffs, I think some Eastern Conference powers, the Bulls or the Heat or the Magic, will test my glass-jaw theory. Suffice it to say, I doubt Boston will represent the East this year.

  8. People sure have strong feelings about the Celtics…

    As a Celtics fan, I would like to say in response to Ron, that I don’t hate nor do I know any other Celtic fan who hates the Magic. The Magic are one of only a couple of teams that can give the C’s a run for their money come playoff time, but I have no ill will towards the team and like a number of their players.

    The Lakers on the other hand, can go die in a fire.

  9. So how are they supposed to act, timid? It’s basketball not ettiquette school, most atheletes act tough. Just because they don’t throw fists doesn’t mean that they’re are not tough, it means that they are smart, if you’re able to get into someones head then do it, I would say that people need thicker skin . Also, I highly doubt the amount of money you make a year dictates your toughness, it may dictate how you respond to certain things, but that’s about it.

  10. *etiquette* Hate spelling errors.

  11. So….A lot of people have made their feelings clear that yelling and trash talking does not make a team “tough”. I agree. But, then, I think we need to define what it is. I stick to my guns that if you stripped away the yelling and trashtalking, and based it just on the way they play on the court, this is a very tough team.

    Take away his yelling and screaming….KG is still one of the best all around defenders in the NBA (as a 15 year vet, which is impressive). In my mind, coming up with that steal the other night in your first game back from injury was pretty tough.

    That’s one example, but a lot of guys on the team have similar traits (Ray never stops moving no matter how many minutes he plays…..Rondo is all over the floor for rebounds, steals, loose balls…..Pierce takes control of the offense in high pressure situations)…

    So I guess we’ll never agree since toughness is sort of a nebulous term, but I just want to make it clear that I don’t think any Celtics fans would argue that the team is tough because they yell and talk trash (although I’d like them to continue doing that…because I think it does give them an edge over some opponents).

  12. @Chris: So you’re saying that, because of the respect you bear the magic owing to their ability to give the C’s a “run for their money come playoff time” you bear them no ill will?

    Yet the Lakers, who gave the C’s more than a “run for their money”, beating them in a crucial Finals game 7 while their best player was having a nightmare game, can “go die in a fire”?

    Your logic puzzles me. Perhaps I have brain damage from all the glorious California sun I soaked up in my youth.

    Oh, and the C’s can suck a fat one, choke on it, and then drown in a lake of shit.

  13. This is going well.

  14. @martin

    I don’t really hate the Magic because they will not beat this current celtics squad, when healthy, in a 7 game series. No way, now how, they are simply outclassed.

    that being said I hate dwight howard’s smiling, elbowing juicehead antics

    the lakers on the other hand ripped my hear out last year so yes, I hate them, all of them, especially Derek Fisher.

  15. @willkav

    I agree. Dwight’s grinning goofball nonsense is grating. And I grudgingly admit that I respect the Celtics- to an extent- much in the same way I imagine you feel toward my Lakers. I can’t say the same for any other team in the league, really.

    I’d hate Fish if I were you too. Personally, while I hate Ray Allen and KG, part of me kind of enjoys them both (Ray especially.) My pure black hatred is reserved for that loathsome con-artist Paul Pierce, whom I freely admit to wishing specific harm upon.

    Rondo has yet to earn my hatred. In fact, his terrible shooting is what allowed Kobe play off of him and grab 15 redeeming boards during his “oh-God-this-isn’t-happening” game 7.

  16. Maybe we’re all looking too deeply into this. It seems pretty simple. Otis Smith is going for the direct ripoff of the Rex Ryan technique (but as a GM). The problem is that he doesn’t actually have the matchup advantages for it to work. His only physically imposing player is afraid to get too physical with anybody, and he just had to trade half his team away because he invested an obscene amount of cash in the biggest waste of human flesh not named Eddy in the league (Rashard).

    History says the Celtics are tougher than his Magic. I have no doubt the same result will come this year. Eat shit and die Otis Smith is basically what I’m saying.

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