Most everyone who reads this column is probably following the Celtics in their bid to make some noise this spring in the NBA Play-offs. They are a good example of a team that has met expectations.
Every team in every sport has a level of performance that defines the sum of their collected parts. I have followed sports closely for over 60 years and there isn’t a year that passes by, without me learning something new. Despite how much attention one plays to a teams potential, there is always an exception to that potential.
Predictions are thrown out at nearly every level of play in every sport from high school through the pros. There are favorites and then there are favorites. The reason I use the Celtics as an example in 2017 is first of all forecasters saw them finishing first or second in their division and either second or third in their conference. The Celtics finished first in both their division and their conference. Does this mean they overachieved in the regular season?
There is a certain corner of the sports world that said the Celtics were able to finish where they finished, because they were incredibly focused and that Coach Brad Stevens was able to get his team to play harder than everyone else, most every night because they were not pacing themselves but, they would have less in the tank left come play-off time than many of their competitors.
The Celtics have advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals. Just about everyone in their right mind, forecast in the fall, that Cleveland and Golden State would meet in the NBA Finals. That still might not happen, but that’s our point…
Predictions, expectations, potential? They are all relative. Relative to how they play out.
Most in the know would say the Celtics have reached the highest level they possibly can in 2017. They accomplished all that they reasonably should. Team executives can take a bow today, but building the next champion never stops. This bit was written six hours before the ping-pong balls bounced to determine the Celtics draft fate for 2017. Danny Ainge had a few hours to smile before going back to work.
The main reason for writing this piece today was to deal with the word potential. How many people or teams have been damaged or even destroyed by the potential label someone put on them? Potential is something that has to be given time to develop and although teams or individuals might carry the label on the surface, will the needed intangibles fall in place to make the label come true?
On the other hand, will the team or individual that is labeled dead in the water, rear its head above water and prove someone wrong in a different way.
Here is where the Celtics are the example again. Coach Brad Stevens preaches that you lay things down every day and do your best and worry about today’s outcome. Generally you will win most of the games you should win (as opposed to suppose to win) and lose the games you should lose. Come to play every day and prepare to be the best team or individual you can be each day.
I think that is what competitive sports is all about anyways.
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