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Boston Celtics Must Live Up To Its Name And Cultivate White Players During Rebuilding Phase


April 28, 2013

My opinions in the column may be seen by some as controversial.  To avoid any misimpressions, I will preface my comments.

The Boston Celtics lick their wounds this week after the New York Knicks buried them in the early rounds of the playoffs.  How far they have fallen since their championship runs in 2010 and 2008. 

The answer to their successful rebuilding effort might be hidden in an unlikely place: General Hsu’s China Garden restaurant on 755 E. Tremont Street in the Bronx.  Yes, the secret might be in a small, family run Chinese restaurant.

General Hsu’s has been my home away from home for 25 years.  Hsu’s daughters and now their daughters serve up hot sweet and sour chicken and potstickers seven nights a week.  I’ve never been to China, but having these wonderful Chinese girls bring the food makes me believe in the authenticity of the food.  They could be Japanese or Thai – I can’t tell the difference anyway.  But they look the part.

Even when the Celtics lost, they had something even more important than victory.  They had authenticity

This brings me to the Celtics.  What is a Celtic?  A Celtic is a pasty, white Irishman.  In the golden age of the Celts, a true Irishman – Kevin McHale – was its pivot man.  Another bright white star – Larry Bird – could have passed for a strapping Irish lad.  So could the fiery Danny Ainge whose temper reminded one of an Irishman after last call.  Even the far from white Robert Parish had a name that evoked images of the Catholic Church, the national church of Ireland.

Fitting their moniker, in the 1980s the Celtics were basketball’s Rocky Balboa and the Lakers were its Apollo Creed.  Even when the Celtics lost, they had something even more important than victory.  They had authenticity.  They were true to their name.  They gave an ethnic white city an ethnic white team.  When you came to see Celtics basketball you got your basketball served up by Celtics – real or close approximations thereof.

Perhaps I can make my point through the inverse to avoid attacks by the overly-sensitive.  Imagine if you took your kid to see the Harlem Globetrotters and they gave you the Washington Generals in Globetrotters’ uniforms.  We would never tolerate a white Harlem Globetrotters, would we?  So why should we tolerate a black Boston Celtics?

The new Celtics should emulate the Globetrotters keen sense of ethnic self-deprecation.  They should have halftime skits in which the players pretend to be partaking in drinking pints of Irish beer and getting into silly scuffles one might see at a traditional local Boston pub.

Plenty of fine white players exist in the NBA.  Even many European standouts could pass for Irish.  Red hair dye and skin bleach could lend a helping hand.  Let me ask you this: Were the Celtics better when they had white players or now when they have black players?  

Diversity has its place, but when something is marketed to the public as ethnic, it should deliver the goods.  General Hsu delivers the goods.  So should the Celtics.