It is perhaps bad form to have two sports-related posts in a row, but tonight the Houston Rockets accomplished something that has only happened twice before in NBA history: They won their 20th straight game. To win twenty games in today's NBA is no joke (there are a lot of very good teams, espcially in the Rockets' own Western Conference), but this streak is noteable for other reasons. About two weeks ago, the Rockets' second best player, Yao Ming, went down with a season-ending foot injury.
Well, the NBA season starts tonight (can you feel the excitement?) and much of the media coverage has focused on all of the problems facing professional basketball. While I enjoy referee bashing and Isaiah Thomas jokes as much as all true sports fans, this year should actually be an interesting one for the league. Aside from the (very real) possibility of Kobe Bryant going to Chicago or Dallas--and thus completely upending current playoff forecasts--themost compelling story is the Boston Celtics.
Following up on Chris's obit for the NBA playoffs, let's take a closer look at the man who killed them: Stu Jackson, who makes Isiah Thomas look like an underachiever when it comes to failing upward. Jackson got his first job in the NBA due to a lucky break: he was working as an assistant coach to Rick Pitino at Providence College when Pitino was hired by the New York Knicks.
The Boston Celtics, a team I have followed obsessively since I was nine, didn't make the NBA finals last week, losing to the New Jersey Nets. But in defeat they achieved something even more important: They answered questions that have haunted the team, and the city, for decades. The Chicago Tribune posed them this way, in a 1992 article marking the retirement of Larry Bird: "Must the Celtics ... have a white star to placate the nearly all-white-ticket-holder base?