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Open Letter to the Boston Celtics Management

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on December 14, 2014

Please get rid of the Celtic Dancers

I am a longtime season ticket holder, veteran basketball coach, fan, husband, and father. With the eye of an instructor to (mostly) adult players, and from our seats directly behind the visitors’ bench, I watch the opposing coach(es) and study the moves of the players on the floor. Game in and game out, there is on display the intelligence and athleticism and dedication of the players, the hard work of the coaching staffs. I’m a former longtime college coach who was dedicated to that game, meaning the college game, but, really, the best basketball in the world is in the NBA. Brad Stevens has the Celtics playing hard. They are bought in. The games are close and competitive. It’s great to watch the games.

Still, there is something missing for me. It’s simple and sad: I wish I could bring my daughter who loves basketball to the games. But I can’t. I just don’t know how I can bring an impressionable five-year-old girl to the games when the Celtics (and all NBA teams) demean women and negatively impact girls of all ages by insisting on including in the program barely clad, pelvic-thrusting, butt spanking, hair-flying, out-of-rhythm undulating, on the floor writhing, porn-straddling, quote-unquote dancers. It is ridiculous and embarrassing and completely unoriginal. Honestly, how am I, or any father or mother, supposed to sit there with my daughter, our daughters (and sons) and watch that? What message is my daughter going to take from it?

She loves to watch players dribble, shoot, pass, steal the ball. She can dribble already with either hand and doesn’t look at the ball. She’s proud of this. Yet I can’t take her to these games to see the best practitioners of this skill in person.

Imagine I am at TD Bank Garden. Celtics are playing, say, the Cleveland Cavaliers. You know: LeBron James, Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving. Crazy talent. Awesome basketball game. Interesting on about 40 different levels. Dazzling to a child. And then the Celtics Dancers come on. My daughter, my sweet impressionable kindergartner who, in addition to playing ball, likes to dress-up as a princess every now and then, is staring at the women, grownup girls, who are on the floor, literally on the floor, half butt-naked, in front of a sold-out crowd. I wanted to bring my daughter to see the best basketball in the world and I am sitting there feeling like I will have to answer to the Department of Social Services. It’s porn.

It’s not that a five-year-old wouldn’t be drawn in to the flash and noise of the “family entertainment” on full display. My question is how do I explain the Celtics Dancers? That men like that? That women like to act like that so men will like them? In public? In front of 18,624 people?

There are so many other halftime entertainment options: kids’ drum corps, musicians, skilled athletes from other endeavors, acrobats, leprechauns, and real dancers from all our neighborhoods and all walks of life. Why can’t you choose these? There are enough other awful things to explain about life: war and death and meanness of all kinds. Why must you add another?

What does this display have to do with basketball? Better question: What does this have to do with the attitude of men toward women?

Oh look, here is the answer made evident by watching: Women are objects, pieces of meat, and what’s wrong with slapping around or knocking out a piece of meat every now and then? Right, Ray Rice? What do you say, Jason Kidd? Connect the dots, Celtics ownership.

Another question: Do the Celtics have such little faith in the product they put on the floor during games that they feel they must peddle porn during time-outs? The tepid applause after the dancers leave the floor ought to be instructive.

In February 2004, Red Auerbach said, “They’re just waiting for me to die so they can get cheerleaders”. He was so right (though cheerleaders would be an improvement on what you have now). You waited until Red was dead. And the dancers writhe all along the spot on the floor where it says Red Auerbach. Nice.

So finally, what should I say to my daughter when she stares out on the court and sees a bunch of young women who are there to peddle the sexual aspect of their bodies, and nothing more? That’s life? That’s what important, smart, rich men think you and the world need? If the Celtics ownership had any vision or wisdom or heart or, frankly, balls, they’d step up and be the first to get rid of the dancers; have it be about basketball and teamwork and hard work and fun rooting for the home team for everyone, little girls and boys and their dads and moms included.

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Posted in notes: college & pro | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments »

Has the Basketball World Changed?

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on October 14, 2014

Years ago when I played lots of pick-up ball, it was, as often as not, a disaster. Constant arguing about calls; guys who did nothing but chuck the ball up; nobody playing defense; an empty soulless attitude and game. Of course, you learned where to go to find the better games, the games where real basketball was played. (Pemberton Street in North Cambridge was usually pretty good; Conway Park on Somerville Ave with the square metal backboards with the holes in them was a good spot, too, almost any day and any time.) Still, even those places could slide into scenes like the weigh-ins the day before a championship fight. I pretty much gave up on it all.

A couple of weekends ago we were in NYC for the Climate Change March and afterward, we were going to meet some friends and their kids at a playground; maybe 43rd St between 8th and 9th Avenues. There was a small fenced in basketball court (typical NYC cage court) and there was a game going on: 4 on 4. Couple Asian kids; a couple black guys; couple others of this and that thrown in. I stood back and watched a bit, just wondering what the game would be like. And there it was: ball moving, players finding one another under the basket, even a backdoor cut and layup. Next thing I knew, I had my fingers laced through the chain link fence, up close to get a better look and feel.

How did this come to be and is it the norm? And if it is the new norm, where did this come from? Was it the NTL Weekly Practice Programs and Weekend Camps?

Or maybe it was the move-the-ball and ye will find the open player on the way to the NBA Championship, San Antonio Spurs basketball?

Whatever it is, I’ll happily be looking for more of it. This can only mean good things for basketball and the world!

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Of All the Things That Could Have Gone Wrong (Celts vs Heat, 11/09/13)

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on November 10, 2013

Yes, Jeff Green hit the three pointer at the buzzer (well, with about 0.2 secs left) to beat the two-time defending NBA champion Miami Heat, but what are the things that could have gone wrong but went right for the Celtics? And what is the one thing that no one is talking about?* (see no. 5*)

1. Dwayne Wade could have made both free throws with 0.6 secs left putting the game out of reach;

2. Dwayne Wade could have hit the rim and the Celtics would have lost at least another 0.3 secs (the required time that would elapse on a time-out for a ball rebounded after a missed free throw). Possible that the ball would have been tipped and not cleanly secured meaning if he hits the rim, game over;

3. Chris Bosh could have tipped the long (50-55′) pass from Gerald Wallace. I watched many slow motion replays and it looks to me that he missed it by less than an inch;

4. LeBron James could have not bitten or stepped toward the cutting Jordan Crawford (who had rec’d a baseline cross screen from Avery Bradley and a stationary screen from Kelly Olynyk) thereby giving Green the extra step away that allowed him to free himself and catch and get the shot off (which he did with amazing efficiency);

5*. The ref could have called 5 secs. Wallace held the ball out-of-bounds for more than 5 secs after receiving the ball. Ouch!!! The rule says (Rule 8, Sec 3a) “The throw-in starts when the ball is at the disposal of a player entitled to the throw-in. He shall release the ball inbounds within 5 seconds from the time the throw-in starts.” I replayed it at least 6 times and it never came in under 5.21 secs. Live, I was counting it out, panicking; it seemed close. A referee counting it out in his head and swinging his arm each time in an approximation of a second five times is just another thing – a big thing – that cost Miami the game and handed a great win to a resurgent group of New Celtics.

Posted in beautiful basketball, notes: college & pro | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

I Don’t Get it. Why Do Teams Quit? (Cavs, Game Six, 05/13/10)

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on May 14, 2010

We were at the game last night so did not hear the broadcast or, specifically, if Jeff van Gundy, pulling the few remaining strands of hair out of his head, said this same exact thing: why did the Cavs give up, or not try to make a slim but-oh-so-very-possible comeback in the last minute? Why? What is lost by not trying? There was plenty of time left! I don’t get it!
This is what I saw: 00:52 left, score 94-85 Celts. 9 point spread. Rondo crosses half court dribbling. Mo Williams turns and looks to the bench with a look that asks, “should I foul?” The coach and everyone on the bench returns blank stares. Williams should have tackled Rondo and then gone to the bench and slapped every one of the coaches upside the head.
This is what I easily imagined: Williams fouls Rondo. Rondo had just missed his last 2 FTs and was 3/7 on the game and the Celtics, as a team, had missed a bunch in the 4th qtr. Missing FTs, which sometimes seems contagious, was in the air. Rondo, placid as ever at the line, wipes the sweat that has oozed out from under the headband. (I think of the old Al McGuire-ism, “if you want to know if he’s gonna make it, look in his eyes.””) He misses both, Cavs outlet, James pulls up from 28′ and nails a 3. Crowd groans, lots of air whooshes out the building, like there’s a train to catch to Lowell. Time-out Cavs. Alright, Cavs down 6. 00:43 remain. Cavs set up the press, all-out ball denial. Doc Rivers takes Rondo out to remove the FT liability but loses point and quickness to get open. Pierce inbounds to Ray Allen. He catches and holds, Cavs come in to trap. Allen, an upright ballhandler, dribbles ball off his own foot (or there’s a five second call or the ball never gets caught or the ball goes off the Cavs but it’s a bad call or a million other things that are at least POSSIBLE!) Cavs ball. They inbound, James catches, 3 Celts run at James who fires ball to corner for Parker (who had hit his last 3). Bang! Cavs down 3, 94-91, 28.7 damn seconds still to go. 13,909 of the 18,000+ plus fans put both hands on their heads, mouths agape. KC Jones stirs from his aisle seat across from us, coming momentarily awake. Havlicek gets up and steals away to the bathroom. All sort of things can happen after that: they foul Rasheed, he makes one. Cavs down 4. They score quickly (James dunk). Cavs down 2, still at least 10 seconds left. Foul, miss, score, a 3. Whatever. Whatever! But something! Something!
I mean, c’mon. Did they not practice as a team since October? Did they not just play over a hundred games together (exhibition + regular season + playoffs)? Weren’t they bonded? A band of brothers? Don’t they care enough to at least take a chance at the 1 in 20 or 1 in 50 or 1 in a 100 shot they’d have at pulling this off? Not only would they have a (slim) chance of winning, which is damn plenty reason enough, but they would have chance to make history, a historic comeback, one that people would be talking about for decades. Um, sort of like when Reggie Miller scored 8 points in 9 seconds against the Knicks in the playoffs. 8 points in 9 seconds!!! In contrast, 9 (or 10) in 52 seconds seems downright ho-hum, a walk in the park (along the burning Cuyahoga).

Posted in notes: college & pro | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

 
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