Ime Udoka is of course right when he says, “We don’t hang banners for Eastern Conference championships in this organization.” Even though the NBA tries harder to mark the conference title like the NFL and MLB always does with pennants, in this town we don’t care about people hanging runners-up banners. . It’s for them people of Indianapolis. We are a different race. Over here, if you’re not the first, you’re the last.
So in no way should anything I say be taken as being satisfied with an Eastern Conference trophy. Not even with a rookie trainer. Not even beating, in order: a team led by Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, the reigning world champions led by MVP and the 1 seed. Not even when last year at this time I was posting a gigantic L:
… which I take now, with pleasure.
That said, it’s worth pausing for a moment between now and the end of Thursday’s final to step back, gaze in wonder at the glorious edifice of success that has been built by Boston/New York’s four professional teams. England since 2001, and wonder that such a thing could be willed by mortal man.
I have long called this the Masshole Century. (And if it continues beyond December 31, 2100, “Masshole Millennium” will be very present.) And I feel I can use that term without pride since, in 2015, the Oxford English Dictionary added it:
A term of contempt for: a native or inhabitant of the state of Massachusetts.
Language: American rude slang.
Etymology: mixture of the name of the American state of Massachusetts and asshole
The effect of the Masshole Century on the American landscape was profound. For about 80 years, it was established in Hollywood that if you wanted to compete for an Oscar, you took on the role of a historical figure, a person with a disability or a drug addiction problem. But since Goodwill hunting, Massholes dominated awards season. Martin Scorsese had to do The dead for one of the most acclaimed directors in movie history to finally step out of the schneid, and it might not even be one of his top 10 movies. (Although listening to Martin Sheen pronounce “microprocessors” in a horrible Boston accent is funnier than anything in king of comedy.) On TV, you can’t start a reality show without at least one devilishly conniving Masshole in a Red Sox hat. It is obligatory.
But I digress. The total domination of the professional sports world is why we are gathered here on this blog today. This is one of those times when sentences and paragraphs cannot capture the grandeur of what we are witnessing. I’m not gifted enough to paint such a picture. For this, only the figures can properly put the Masshole Century into perspective.
Let’s start with the New England teams making it to their respective league finals. (I say “respectively” to make it clear that we’re not talking about teams reaching the final round in another league, in case it’s confusing without the word. As much as we’d all love to see, for example, the Bruins in the World Series is a post for another era.) In the 2000’s America barely got to sit their big national ass on their collective couch to watch a championship game/series without that a Boston team being involved:
This account goes on to point out that there are 44 teams among the 124 pro teams that have failed any finals at that time. That’s 35.4% of all NBA, MLB, NFL and NHL franchises.
Yet, as you can see in graphic form from “Do Your Pod” guest Alex Barth, it’s only been eight years since a Boston team played for the championship. And if you extend it to the conference final round, there was only of them years without Massholes there for everyone to have “contempt” for:
I still don’t know how we managed to survive those barren drought years of 2005 and 2009. But they gave our old people stories to tell the young. Plus, they were mitigated by the fact that there were multiple Boston teams in the bottom four. new times, with three teams in 2013 (one championship) and 2018 (two). As good as five years with two teams playing for their league title. And two of those years had multiple championships, with the Sox and Patriots winning in 2004 and 2018.
In another Tweet, Alex makes an amazing remark about the Celtics ending our current drought. Lo and behold, the Red Sox are currently the furthest from their last Finals appearance. That would be October 2018, when they won their fourth World Series in 14 years. Since then, all the other local teams have done it once.
For the record, their combined records in 31 total conference finals in the Masshole Century are now 19-12. Individually, they would be:
–Red Sox: 4-3
–Celtics: now 3-5
In 18 times playing for the championship, these teams are 12-6. Soon 13-6. Because despite dire warnings to the contrary, this race for greatness isn’t going to end anytime soon. Kiss the rings.