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Would you like to know just how deep the despicableness of the Miami Heat is these days?
There are people — more than a few — who in any other circumstance, in any other year, would look at the prospect of the Boston Celtics making yet another trip to the NBA Finals and it would fill them with the kind of unbridled rage that normally accompanies the closing credits every week you watch “The Killing.”
Rooting for the Celtics? That’s like rooting for rain on the Fourth of July. Someone once said rooting for the Yankees was like rooting for U.S. Steel; rooting for the Celtics is like rooting for Microsoft. Unless you are either a) a native New Englander; b) a family member of a past or present Celtic; or c) the most shameless kind of front runner, there is no way, in good conscience, you can ever root for the Celtics and still face yourself in the mirror.
CELTIC PRIDE: Paul Pierce and the Celtics are unlikely sentimental favorites against LeBron James (above) and the Heat, writes the Post’s Mike Vaccaro.
In normal times.
But these are not normal times. This is not a normal season. This, in fact, is supposed to be the season that yielded the second of the eight NBA Finals that LeBron James pledged the city of Miami. The fact the Heat’s total is currently stuck on zero — thank you once again, Messrs. Nowitzki, Kidd and Chandler — is a source of constant delight to most right-thinking fans of the NBA.
And the fact that tonight that number could remain frozen at nil?
Well, that’s almost too good to be true.
Even if it does come, for many, at an ungodly cost.
What would it take for you to root for a Death Star in the Star Wars movies? Or for whichever teams stood in the way of Hickory High and the New York Knights? Or for Apollo Creed, Clubber Lang or Ivan Drago? Or the Tattaglias and the Barzinis?
Now you’re rooting for the Celtics?
OK, there were a lot of Yankee haters who suspended their animus during the epic 2001 postseason, but it took a horrific national tragedy occurring in the Yankees’ own backyard to engender that kind of sympathy and support. And even then, it wasn’t that folks in Omaha and Boise and Albuquerque were rooting for the Yankees as much as they were pulling for New York City. And make no mistake: that was a temporary thing.
Now, you have people who used to wish that Red Auerbach would put the wrong end of the cigar in his mouth who are writing sonnets to Doc Rivers. You have fans who have seen Bob Cousy and Bill Russell and John Havlicek and Larry Bird systematically break their hearts across the decades who cheer every time Kevin Garnett gets away with a cheap shot and every time an announcer breathlessly likens the “courage” of Ray Allen and Paul Pierce to the men of Pickett’s Charge.
And just listen to the backlog of purple prose building for Rondo.
It’s an illusion, of course. This is no wave of pro-Celtic mania, but an avalanche of anti-Heat hysteria. There is LeBron, of course, who probably wishes more than any man other than Doc Brown that there really was such a thing as time travel. There is Dwyane Wade, who used to be considered the lovable half of the duo, who started the playoffs tossing Mike Bibby’s shoe into the stands and has just kept shrinking and shrinking, despite occasional flashes of genius. There is Erik Spoelstra, who’s been playing “Candyland” while Rivers has been playing cribbage.
There is Pat Riley. Enough said.
And so there is this: Celtics Nation, in the most literal sense of the word, a country with its eyes lasered on Boston, hungry for a Celtics victory. For genuine Celtics fans, it would be a moment of splendid, seminal triumph. And for the 93 percent of everyone else rooting for them? It will be a thorough relief.
Now they can merrily and seamlessly shift their allegiance to the Thunder. With clear consciences.
Boston Celtics, Celtics, Celtics, Miami Heat, Paul Pierce, Paul Pierce, LeBron James, Mike VaccaroFollow Mike, NBA Finals, U.S. Steel, the Heat