I'm writing this to you because I feel the need to apologize. It takes a lot for someone to admit they were wrong but I'm manning up and doing it. I've criticized your game for awhile now and it's only right I come clean and hope you can accept everything I'm about to say. You've gone from an inconsistent, turnover-prone knucklehead to being the first guard/small forward off the bench in this year's playoffs. And you're doing a hell of a job.
You see I didn't always have this disdain for your game or such low expectations. When you were a rookie out of Oklahoma State I was pleasantly surprised with your game. You were ahead of the learning curve of fellow rookies Delonte West and Al Jefferson when you first got some run. By the end of the season when Antoine returned, I begged for you to be the starting 2 guard; I simply felt Ricky was best coming off the bench. When I was at that Nets-C's game where Vince Carter was unconscious I pleaded for the coaches to insert you to defend him. You had an upside and the future looked bright.
But after your rookie year something changed. You began having legal trouble that summer in your hometown of Chicago with someone being shot and you being in the mix. You also began to be injured. A lot. You missed 30 games in 2006 with injury problems. Next year in 2007, you hit a groove and were playing really well for about 12 games or so when you endured a season-ending injury when you went for the dunk. But that dunk attempt was after the whistle, exemplifying why I thought you were a bonehead.
In 2008 you were a forgotten man during the playoff run and I was glad. I was tired of you TA, which I was convinced stood for "Turnover Again." You may remember you were injured during a game or two of the Finals. You were so incredibly irrelevant that when you returned from being injured and were introduced on TV to all the countries viewing the Finals, they put your name as "Brian Scalabrine." No one noticed. You had that nifty reverse dunk in the closeout game of lal which was cool, but really Tony, no one cared.
Last season in 2009 there was some added pressure on you, to be the guy who filled in for the departed James Posey. You failed miserably. Inconsistent play, moving too fast, not being able to dribble in traffic, you were a walking turnover. You were a disaster to watch. And you were injured again not surprisingly, competing in only 46 games.
Because of your horrendous play last year, this season, Marquis Daniels was brought in since he was an upgrade over you. You started the season on the injured list, a familiar place for you. I was expecting zero from you Tony.
But then something changed. Somewhere along the way, you got healthy and began to contribute, especially once Marquis went down. And the more consistent minutes you got, the more you began to impress. When Marquis returned, you were bumped back out of the rotation. You'd filled in admirably and I was pleased. I wasn't expecting you to return to the rotation or contribute anymore. That was even more the case when Michael Finley was signed. As far as I was concerned, you were behind both moving towards the playoffs.
But somehow you got a chance. Marquis wasn't bringing the athleticism you brought. Finley was long in the tooth and didn't have that anymore. The Celtics glaring weakness was energy and athleticism and it needed to be injected from somewhere. You stepped up and did it.
I'm still convinced Marquis is the better all-around player between the two of you. You couldn't shine Michael Finley's shoes when he was younger, and I'd still want a game winning shot taken by Findog, not you Tony. But you bring the constant energy and defensive intensity that this team needs on a regular basis. You're better than your fellow draftpick Delonte West now. I didn't think I'd ever be able to say that. When Eddie House was jettisoned for Nate Robinson, that opened up even more playing time for you. Your handle wasn't as scary. I don't cringe when you take over the point guard responsibilities from Rajon for a few minutes. I don't close my eyes when you get the ball on a fast break, frightened by what will transpire. I look forward to how you'll finish the play.
You've done a 180 Tony, and I owe you a sincere apology from the bottom of my heart. Keep up the amazing work and please finish off Cleveland. After that, you're halfway home to another title.
PS- I know this is a contract year for you Tony and you've earned a big payday. I'd like to see you return to Boston if possible. If not, I wish you the best of luck. If you do re-up with the Celts and revert to your injury-plagued, turnover-prone, head-up-your-ass tendencies, I have every right as a fan to start disliking you once again. In other words, please don't pull a Michael Stewart.