I wasn’t too thrilled with the poking, slapping and jawing after last night’s win especially since there’s a (slim) chance Jae Crowder could get a suspension for initiating contact. But after remembering John Wall’s cheap shot on Marcus Smart in November, I couldn’t fault our guys.
As the incident spread across the interwebs and sports talk radio, the word rivalry surfaced. Rivalry? With the Wizards? GTFO.
Then I stumbled across this post on Bullets Forever:
It’s just the latest episode in a tense rivalry that has emerged over the past year as the Wizards and Celtics have fought for respect in the Eastern Conference. It started in January 2016 when Jae Crowder accused former Wizards coach Randy Wittman of cursing at him during a game. Later that month, Bradley Beal suffered a concussion and a broken nose after catching an elbow from Marcus Smart in a mid-air collision. Then, earlier this season, John Wall was ejected from a game against the Celtics after shoving Smart.
On top of that, you have the simmering tension from how the Celtics edged out the Wizards to sign Al Horford over the summer, which included Crowder bragging about how he used the Wizards’ poor record as part of their pitch. There’s also the tension between Wall and Isaiah Thomas as they try to prove who is the better player in the league. And let’s not forget about that time Marcin Gortat tried to sneak in the Celtics’ huddle.
Come to think of it, that’s a decent dossier. But my Celtics fandom stretches back more than 35 years and grizzled vets like us don’t throw around the “R” word lightly. Not after wars with the Lakers, 76ers, Pistons and Heat.
These teams definitely do not like each other. That’s a given. But you need more than regular season disdain for a rivalry. True rivalries are born in the playoffs and take a few years of simmering to to reach peak levels.
And I’ll be honest, there’s part of me that laughs at the Washington franchise. One title? 36 years since the last trip to the conference finals? Puh-leeze.
(Photo courtesy SB Nation)