Sorry, Simmons, but that’s yesterday’s shtick. The 2007 draft didn’t kill the Celtics — it resurrected them. Without their fall to the fifth pick, the Celtics don’t feel the urgency to trade for seven-time All Star Ray Allen. Without Allen (and the acquiescence of Celtics-great-turned-incompetent-Timberwolves-GM Kevin McHale, and possibly some beyond-the-grave help from Red Auerbach), the Celtics don’t pry former MVP Kevin Garnett away from Minnesota. And without Garnett, the Celtics don’t race to a 20–2 record at press time, including a franchise-best 12-0 at home, establishing themselves as a credible threat to win the NBA Finals. Throw in the fact that Oden ended up sidelined for the season with a very ominous knee injury before he played a single regular-season minute for the Portland Trailblazers, and that Durant is struggling to meet expectations in Seattle, and it’s clear that getting fucked in the draft was the best thing that could have happened to the franchise.
Exhibit B, of course, is the Patriots’ ongoing march to perfection. Goaded by lingering bitterness from the conference-championship loss to the Colts, the Patriots subsequently shipped a fourth-round pick (!) to the Oakland Raiders for wide receiver Randy Moss — always considered a bit of a head case, but also one of the most innately talented players in football history.
This transaction prompted some kvetching about how the Patriots had betrayed their lofty personnel standards. But Moss has been a model citizen since his arrival in Foxboro. More important, he’s caught a team-record 19 touchdown passes, and may break Jerry Rice’s single-season NFL mark of 22 before he’s done. With the addition of Moss, meanwhile, quarterback Tom Brady is having the best year by far of his Hall of Fame career, with personal bests in touchdown passes, total yardage, completion percentage, and QB rating. And the Patriots seem destined to become the first team since the 1972 Dolphins to have a flawless season.
Would all this be happening without Moss? Probably not. Without the Beli-cheat spygate scandal? That’s debatable. But it’s clear that, by busting the Patriots for illegal sideline videotaping in the first game of the season, Jets head coach (and former Patriots assistant) Eric Mangini helped ratchet up Pats coach Bill Belichick’s already-psychotic competitive streak. With a few exceptions, the Patriots aren’t just beating teams this season — they’re trouncing them. And this, in turn, makes it even less likely that some scrappy underdog is going to blindside the Patriots between now and February — when you’re scared shitless going into a game, it’s awfully hard to pull a Rudy. (That Mangini recently copped to some illegal spying of his own is icing on the cake.)
And the Red Sox? Out-maneuvering the Yankees for a couple of key pitchers (Josh Beckett before the 2006 season and Daisuke Matsuzaka before 2007) was the turning point in securing that World Series championship — the second in four years, after 86 years of agonizing futility. And unlike in 2004, they actually won the AL East this year, finishing two games ahead of the Yankees. And they swept the Series yet again. Extra violin points for the fact that the clinching victory went to Jon Lester, who A) was making his first post-season start, and B) was diagnosed with lymphoma this past year (he’s now in remission). And extra schadenfreude points for the fact that the Yankees’ failed season prompted some extra-stupid bloviation by George Steinbrenner, which in turn prompted manager Joe Torre to leave for the Dodgers.