Wob: The Boston Celtics and the Recipe of an NBA Meltdown
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Marcus Morris, Al Horford and Gordon Hayward
- The Boston Celtics have lost five of their past six games and look to be on the brink of a meltdown.
- Rob Perez (aka @WorldWideWob) details how the perfect blend of uncertainty, ego and attitude have combined to create a volatile situation in Boston.
I want to re-introduce you to Boo.
Remember her? The adorable little girl from “Monsters Inc.” who accidentally stumbled into the middle of Monstropolis in the middle of the night.
In fear of being persecuted for allowing a human to infiltrate the Monsters Inc. workplace, Mike and Sully bring Boo back to their apartment, where they frantically brainstorm ideas to calm down this notoriously feared apex predator.
Boo finds a stuffed animal, which makes her very happy and the situation appears to be subdued. But that’s Little Mikey, Mike’s favorite. No one is allowed to have Little Mikey in their possession but Mike, so he rips it out of her hands.
It was at this moment, Mike knew he messed up.
We’ve all been there at least once, in childhood or as an adult. Nothing can make you feel better except the Earth scorching at the mercy of your tears.
Meltdowns are the culmination of the perfect storm of emotion: desire, anxiety, jealousy, shock, injustice.
Nobody is immune to them, they apply to almost any and every situation in life.
The reason why I’m even having this conversation in the first place is because after the Celtics got boo’d (😎) off the floor after losing their fifth game in their last six contests — free-falling three losses out of fourth place in the Eastern Conference playoff standings — I started wondering: How the hell did we get here?
How did this team go from championship contender to “are we sure they’re getting out of the first round?” overnight?
How are fans this upset with a team currently 12 games OVER .500?
How are the players seemingly this unhappy with each other with such an extensive track record of success?
It is time to brew up the ingredients of an NBA team meltdown.
On the dish, surrounding our entree, are always the same couple of side items that supplement and enrich the flavor of the main course:
- Losing steak
- Fanbase french cries
Those are always the constants, but for the meltdown: let’s use the 2019 Boston Celtics situation to determine the perfect recipe.
1 oz free agency dark cloud
Every NBA heavyweight that melts down has one of their best players on an expiring contract.
Not only is this player due to become an unrestricted free agent, “#HeGone” rumors are sprinkled into the consistency of the sauce throughout the season.
The player in question may or may not be responsible for the gossip — so his team not only has to deal with the burden of high expectations, but this never-ending drama of a superstar flirting with either other stars under contract with different franchises or the freedom of free agency itself.
It’s an impossible situation, regardless of the truth.
Take Kyrie Irving, for example: First, he declares “If you guys will have me back, I plan on re-signing here” …
… Then, months later, a different tune:
And a whole lot of clickbait nonsense in between:
When you combine everything and pour it into the same cauldron, nobody knows what to believe anymore. And even if the players know something that the public doesn’t, they still see everything being said about the situation — all of the hot takes, all of the jokes, all of the viral comments.
It’s poison until the day arrives that the re-signing is official and declarations of loyalty are replaced with action. When chaos becomes the only ally, then and only then do you have the beginning of the end.
2 tbsp cryptic answers
When shit hits the fan, one of two things happen:
1. The team rallies around its leader and they overcome the adversity
2. The team’s trust in its leader is exhausted, and it starts subtweeting each other through the media.
These players know whatever they say is going to be taken out of context by content consumers and aggregation websites.
But sometimes these guys just don’t care: They know exactly what they’re doing, and they’re going to use the platform given to them by reporters and camera phones and Twitter to spray venom at teammates, coaches, and/or executives while not violating the sacred brotherhood code of the locker room.
Cryptic subtweet answers are not poison that kills on contact; it is time-released. They have your colleagues pondering if your answers are trolling or truthful denials.
The uncertainty of trust is pernicious. Humans willingly accept the pain associated with closure to quench the thirst of the unknown.