Friday, February 25, 2005

'Toine: The Sequel

So here's the thing. Call it my Daily Mea Culpa if you will.

I really did write that column I promised a day or two ago. Honest. It was on the stunning return of CyberToine, my unexpected admiration for Gary Payton, and a bizarre email I received from Wyc Grousbeck after I ripped the Walker/LaFrentz deal in which the Celtics owner told me I wouldn't like Antoine Walker so much if I really knew him.

Considering that last night I was feeling about as healthy as Marge Schott - not a good sign considering the ol' bat has been dead for a year - I was feeling rather proud about my near-death dedication to this here blog space.

So, yeah, I wrote the thing. It just didn't make it this far. It seems a few moments after the column was completed, my mind began wandering. The memory is hazy, but think I was either looking for my sweet poochie-woochie Schottzie to give him a smooch, searching for my daily carton of Marlboros, or perhaps making a mental note to call Eric Davis a grossly inappropriate slur. Can't recall which.

In my oblivious state, I somehow hit the back button on my computer . . . then the forward button . . . and lost every last overwritten word.

You might say I was pissed. Defeated by technology and my own world-class stupidity, I turned off the computer and cried myself to sleep on my giant pillow.

I was going to re-write the danged thing today - I was, honest - but then the Pats dumped the best big-game defensive back in NFL history, and Ty Law became my obvious topic du jour. Still, I knew I had to post something on the return of 'Toine, the most polarizing player in Celtics history. And that's where my man T.O. comes in.

(Not, not that T.O.)

T.O. is Tim O'Sullivan, another of my peeps/boyz/cronies from my days at the Monitor. He is one of the most creative writers I know, and as a fellow HoopsHype alum, he's never lacking for wit or wisdom when it comes to the NBA, and the Celtics in particular.

Tonight I fired off a short email to him:

What's your take on the trade? I was bummed at first - I really dig Payton's old-school game - but I'm kind of geeked to see ol 'Toine play tonight.

T.O.'s reply did not disappoint. In fact, I enjoyed his usual clear-eyed perspective immensely, perhaps because it's remarkably similar to what I had to say before the &$**@# computer totally &*$#% me over. The %&%$$%%!

Uh . . . yeah. Sorry about that. I'll be PG-13 from now on, promise.

Anyway, here's T.O.'s take.

(Enjoy it, you #**&#@#s.)

The trade? I think I'm still in shock. But, as you know, I'm a 'Toine fan, like you. I think it will be great for Pierce, maybe snap him out of the perma sulk. And I think, or rather hope, that 'Toine has been humbled the last couple of years.

I also think that management has more leverage with him now. Ainge traded him once, so getting a fat new contract is no guarantee. And Rivers has shown he isn't afraid to lower the hammer on his stars (Pierce found that out the hard way) and he doesn't have the history that O'Brien and Walker had - the time at Kentucky and all the time as an assistant coach, who are usually the confidante and shoulder-to-cry-on type guys. He is the boss and he'll demand 'Toine's respect.

So I have hope that this will be a new and improved 'Toine, one less likely to jack 3s at every chance, one willing to play in the post and maybe make an outlet pass every now and again. He is in better shape. And he still has that extra large heart. No one cares like Employee No. 8 (how much will he pay Big Al for that?). He should also put more asses in the yellow Fleet seats, which I'm sure is part of Grousbeck's motivation.

As for Payton, we'll all miss him. They are now a rudderless ship. 'Toine as point forward works for maybe 10 minutes a game. Maybe. I love West, but its too much to ask of him I think to be the full-time point. It could stunt his growth instead of foster it. He may thrive, but you never know. Forget Banks. Now, if Payton gets bought out and comes back to Boston, then Ainge is a freakin' genius and the Celtics could be in the Eastern Conference Finals.

This really doesn't impact the future all that much. Payton, while a good teacher and leader, wasn't the future. And 'Toine is off the books after this year. The future, to me, looks pretty much the same, and if West does thrive, than it actually looks better.

As you can see, I'm thinking about doing a column on this.

I say he damn well should, don't you? The guy brings the insight full-blast even when he's writing in a stream-of-consciousness format. Respect!

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go sledgehammer my laptop to smithereens. When I'm done there, I think I'll obey this sudden urge I have to try to kiss my doggie on the lips (hack) while smoking 46 Marlboros (cough, cough). Signing off (wheeze) . . .