It’s good to see the Celtics doing their stuff again. Last Saturday, Harvard’s Lavietes Pavillion roared with the shouts of 2000 fans, as Rajon Rondo led his green team against a white team coached by Deion Branch. In the wake of the lockout negotiation breakdown, the Boston Charity Classic seemed to be a purposeful attempt to put basketball back in the headlines.
The teams were stunners, including players like Kendrick Perkins, Paul Pierce, Leon Powe and Nate Robinson. The exhibition raised money for three charities, and it drew a excellent crowd. Most of all, it was great to see Pierce, Rondo and Perkins together again. The three received powerful ovations from the 2000 Celtics fan shoved, standing-room only, into the relatively small Lavietes Pavillion space.
And just like the other charity games, the Boston Charity Classic was nearly 100% showing off, featuring circus dunks, trick passes and crazy three-pointers. Defense was never even an afterthought.
After the game ended, the players quickly turned to the subject of the lockout, addressing the player union’s decision to dissolve.
In an interview with AP, Paul Pierce spoke about the offer the union refused to take last Monday: “If I had a vote would I take the deal now? You know what? I don’t think the deal that’s on the table now is a deal I would take… I want to play. I don’t have too many years left. But it has to be a fair deal. I think that’s the most important thing… They really discussed their options. That’s all I’ve been doing during this course, going to the meetings and listening to what the deal is. A lot of players looked at me for that role in leadership when they talk about negotiating and they talk about their options. A lot of guys asked me. When I deal with that call all I do is give them the information.”
Both Perkins and Rondo weighed in on the subject in interviews with ESPN. Perkins was optimistic, saying, “I thought the season was going to start but it hasn’t yet. So I’m just going to continue to work, and whenever the season starts I’ll just try to go from there… Every guy feels different, in my eyes. I feel like some guys may want to take the deal and some guys say they don’t want to take the deal, whatever it may be. But I think the biggest thing for the players now is that we all stick together, because we know the owners will do the same. I think right now if everybody puts their pride aside we can get a deal done. I think both sides are being really prideful, but if both sides can drop their pride and come in with an open mind and an open heart, I think we can get a deal.”
Meanwhile, Rondo wanted to quell cynics, saying, “Everybody’s itching to play basketball. Everybody wants to see basketball, even both sides. The owners want to see us out there playing and the guys want to be out there playing as well. Hopefully we can come to some type of agreement before it’s too late. It’s a simple matter of just compromising.”
So which is it? Is it about the money or is it about basketball? At least charity games like this suggest that it’s the latter. We can only hope that’s the case.