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In The NBA, One Player Makes All The Difference

Yesterday morning, the Celtics were the laughingstock of the NBA, a maybe playoff team, even in the horrid East.

Today, because of this supposed deal for Kevin Garnett, they're a serious threat. They're a championship contender. They're "maybe the league's most interesting team." And I don't think any of this is hyperbole. I believe it all.

That's why I hate the NBA.

Is basketball a team sport? Sure, in the sense that more than one guy is on the court at a time. But it's also the only sport in which 25% of a quality roster can make you a legitimate championship contender. The Celtics now have KG, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and nine responses to a Craigslist ad. That means that, at all times, they'll be fielding at least two horrendous players. This doesn't matter. Even baseball, a team sport in which, with few exceptions, everyone is contributing individually, requires more roster cohesion than basketball.

How many times do you look at a trade in any sport that involves one team giving up five players and a draft pick for one guy and expect it to turn out well for the team giving up all the bodies? Trades of this ilk are almost always failures, except in basketball. And isn't it embarassing that this phrase actually needs to be written regarding an NBA deal?

Multiple sources said the deal includes two assets Timberwolves vice president Kevin McHale has coveted: Al Jefferson and Theo Ratliff's expiring contract.

McHale didn't want Ratliff. He wanted Ratliff's expiring contract. Let me put it this way: McHale wanted a terrible player. That was a breaking point in the deal. Because unless you're the Spurs or Pistons, depth doesn't matter. Players 6-12 exist solely to meet league and salary cap requirements. And that's if your team is lucky enough to have 5 capable starters.

The Celtics aren't that lucky. They've got three. And the fact that they're now among the best teams in the East because they added a third legitimate starter is laughable.