BOSTON - With their team again going nowhere fast, the Boston Celtics management must have believed they had to do something.
But instead of bringing in a new coach, a new general manager or, better yet, a 7-foot center, the Celtics followed the time-honored tradition and went with sleaze.
During last night's game against the Charlotte Bobcats, the team's new "cheerleaders/dancers" were again strutting their stuff in skimpy, green halter tops and beyond skin tight green hot pants.
They are promoting their new "cheerleaders/dancers" far more aggressively than perennial All-Star Paul Pierce or some of their promising young talent.
There was the reality show "Dreaming Green: The Making of the Celtics Dance Team". The team Web site has scores of pictures, as well as videos and biographies of the women.
To refer to them as "cheerleaders" or "dancers" is misleading at best and a disservice to real chearleaders. Put it this way, the last time I saw a group of young women that scantily clad who bumped and grinded like that was at my friend's bachelor party. And the cops broke that up.
The ultra-image conscious NBA has had recent mandates that players can't argue with referees and they have to wear suits to games, but objectifying women, no problem. Having them leered at, gawked at, hooted at, ogled, that's just good entertainment. Despite what Charles Barkley proclaimed, athletes are role models. As for women, who needs role models? Super models is what the Celtics want.
It's too bad. As they proved with an upbeat number to "All That Jazz," they really have talents beyond their perfect bodies.
Shame on the Celtics, who, by the way, are the last team in the league to add dancers/cheerleaders, and shame on the NBA.
As Sports Illustrated wrote in a cover story a few years ago, this is a league which is plagued by players having children out of wedlock, and where abusive treatment toward women is commonplace, as was chronicled in the book "Out of Bounds: Inside the NBA's Culture of Rape, Violence, and Crime".
Of course, it would be simplistic and irresponsible to blame all the league's and/or the nation's woes on the NBA having cheerleaders/dancers, but how about being proactive? We can have a female Speaker of the House and a female Secretary of State, but if you're a woman at an NBA game, check your brains at the door be content with being eye candy.
Given the league's strip-club culture and alarming level of misogyny, why fuel these sexist attitudes? The answer is predictable. Sex sells. And, like all pro sports, the NBA is more about money than it is about basketball.
Whatever happened to sports being about world-class athletes doing superhuman things, pouring their heart and soul onto the court to earn a hard-fought victory? That should be enough for fans. I'm not against all the bells and whistles in the so-called "game presentation" with the contests and the blaring music and the antics of Lucky, the team mascot. Heck, I've danced like a fool to get my ugly mug on the Jumbotron, too.
Recently, the Celtics Women's Group has been pushing the "Boston Celtics Hero Book". Proud of the charitable effort, which promotes "positive role models," the team is puffing it's chest out with pride. Meanwhile, the dancers are gaining far more attention and are anti-role models for the way they are puffing out their ample chests.
The Red Sox have the Pesky Pole. The Celtics could opt for a stripper's pole. Instead of drafting a star from Duke, they've chosen to go the Daisy Dukes route. The uniforms for the entire 20-person dance team require less fabric than one of Shaq's jerseys.
In the September issue of Boston Magazine, dance team director Marina Ortega remarked, "They'll be showing some skin in a very classy, dignified way."
She got half of that right. Hint, it wasn't the classy, dignified half.
Celtic legend Red Auerbach famously was against cheerleaders.
Ortega said of Auerbach in that article, "He would really appreciate the amount of talent."
Red may not have, but certainly the target demographic (glassy-eyed males ages 18-49) does. It doesn't seem like a coincidence that just four days before the unveiling of the dance team, Auerbach died at the age of 89.
Last night, Violet Palmer, the NBA's only female referee, officiated the game. Given the Celtics brass' enlightened view on women, I'm surprised they didn't ask her to officiate the game in a G-string and stiletto heels.
Michael Muldoon is an Eagle-Tribune sportswriter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.