The Unwritten Rules of Belichick


The Unwritten Rules of Belichick

Dont pull into a parking spot if someones already backing in. Keep your head down in the locker room, and straight ahead at the urinal. Dont fart in the elevator. On a plane, the middle seat gets both armrests. In the car, the driver picks the music. On moving walkways at the airport, its highway law: Left side for business, right side for pleasure.

Dont re-heat fish in the office microwave!

As human beings, there are an endless number of unwritten rules that we navigate around on a daily basis, and for the most part, everyone does a pretty good job of staying between the lines. But inevitably, from time to time, we all find ourselves on the wrong end of a broken rule: Some wankster steals a parking spot right from under your nose. The guy in the aisle seat falls asleep with his elbow jammed into your ribs. You walk off the elevator smelling like rotten eggs and processed taco meat.

To be honest, I think we get more upset when people break the unwritten rules than when they break actual laws. Why? Because the real criminals will eventually get caught. If someones desperate enough to smash a car window or break into an apartment, chances are hell do it again and again and again until he's busted and brought to justice. We have ways of dealing with people who break real laws. The unwritten rules? Theres nothing. No consequences. Only frustration, anger and disgust. Honestly, I have more contempt for a guy who talks loudly on his cell phone at a restaurant than I do for a drug addict who pick-pockets strangers on the T. Is that wrong? I mean, at least the druggie will get caught. The guy at the restaurant will go on for the rest of his life torturing society with loud, one-sided conversations about the real estate market in Charlestown.

Anyway, we all know that unwritten rules play as big a role in sports as they do in real life. Id need a few thousand words to break down all the secret sports codes that if broken will send the offended party into a two-year-olds temper tantrum:

Dont watch a home run too long. Never break up a no-hitter with a bunt. Dont shoot threes in a blow out. Dont take slap shots after the whistle. Dont under any circumstances run up the score. Dont incite a brawl by karate kicking a catcher in the chest. And apparently, when a team waives a player with the intention of re-signing him, do NOT put in a waiver claim on said player.

That last ones a little tricky, and Im not sure it makes sense, but theres no question that it exists. Why else would 28 other teams pass up the chance to land the rights to a very capable 24-year-old, 6-foot-6 tight end who in three short years has gone from captain of Ohio State to undrafted free agent to Super Bowl Champion and who's only getting better. I dont care that hes out for the year, check out some of the tight end depth charts around this league, and tell me there aren't teams who need Jake Ballard. They all could use him even if it means waiting a year. But no one flinched. Well, no one except Bill Belichick, a fact that only further enhances the perception that this unwritten rule however ridiculous it might be does exist. That when the Giants waived Ballard on Tuesday, they assumed hed find his way back to New York. That despite all the reasons why numerous teams might take a flyer on the young tight end, Coughlin and Co. never imagined anyone would.

Lets face it: Bill Belichick is an unwritten rule breaker. He'd steal that parking spot from you in a second. Hes the guy who takes your armrest. Who farts in the elevator just because he has to. Who keeps flicking the radio back to Bon Jovi when all you want to listen to is Howard Stern. "Errr, I'm riding shotgun. It's my choice. Everyone know that's the rule"

And right now, the Giants are acting like we all would in any of those situations theyre pissed. Not only because they lost their tight end or that they lost him to a rival. But because there's nothing they can do about it. Because as "wrong" as it might be, Belichick didn't break any rules. There are no consequences for his actions. You want to try and get even? OK, now you're playing his game. Now you're down to his level. Now you've justified his original action and have nothing left to stand on. Basically, he wins.

And that's the thing about unwritten rule breakers: It always works out in their favor. They're the one with the parking spot while you're still driving around in circles. They're fast asleep on the plane while you're wide awake watching your fourth straight episode of VH1 Storytellers. Their stomach feels better, while you're the one who needs an emergency shower. Regardless of the situation and as much as everyone else might hate them they come out on top.

And while I hate that person in real life, I love him as my football coach.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

WATCH: Celtics vs. Hawks


WATCH: Celtics vs. Hawks

Tune into NBC Sports Boston to watch the Celtics play the Hawks in Atlanta. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by Nissan on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

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Celtics-Hawks preview: C's defense looks to keep up historic pace


Celtics-Hawks preview: C's defense looks to keep up historic pace

As the wins continue to pile up for the Boston Celtics, so does the praise and adulation from others throughout the league. 

It’s a double-edged sword if you think about it. 

Acknowledging how good the Celtics are, is indeed a sign of respect. 

But it also means Boston plays every game with a large target on its back unlike any of Brad Stevens’ previous Celtics teams. 

And that means every game they play, even those like tonight’s matchup at Atlanta where they will be heavily favored, are dangerous matchups.

Because for some teams, the next best thing to competing against the champ (Golden State) is facing the team with the best record who just knocked off the champ. 

That will be one of the dynamics at work tonight when the Celtics (14-2) kick off a three-game road trip against a trio of sub-.500 teams beginning with the Hawks (3-12).

Boston has shown tremendous focus and attention to detail during their 14-game winning streak. But in that span, the Celtics have never had a trio of teams right behind each other that struggled as much as the Hawks, the Miami Heat and the Dallas Mavericks have this season. 

Not including games played on Friday, Boston’s next three opponents are a combined 11-33. 

All three of those teams would love to be the one to knock off the Celtics, the kind of victory that could significantly shift the direction of their respective franchises from their current downward spin. 

Meanwhile, the Celtics will look to continue to play with the kind of defensive temperament that has catapulted them to the top of the NBA’s defensive standings in several categories. 

“The way they’re beating teams it ain’t pretty,” a league executive texted NBC Sports Boston. “But they win. Last I checked, that’s what matters most.”

And that success has to a large degree, put a bigger bullseye on the Celtics than ever. 

“Now that we have a reputation, I think everyone is coming for us,” said Boston’s Jaylen Brown. “Now we have to come play even harder, and I think we can do that. I think we are more than capable.”

Especially if they continue to defend at a level we haven’t seen in years. 

Boston has a league-best defensive rating of 95.4. A key component in Boston’s strong play defensively has been their ability to win the battle of the boards. They come into tonight’s game with a .530 rebounding percentage which is second in the league to Portland (.539).

And that defense, while praised for how it functions collectively, it also consists of some pretty good individual defenders as well. 

Among guards averaging at least 20 minutes per game, Boston has four players ranked among the top 10 in defensive rating (Marcus Smart, 93.5 defensive rating, 2nd); Jaylen Brown (93.6, 3rd); Terry Rozier (95.0, 5th) and Kyrie Irving (96.4, 8th). 

When you look at forwards, Brown headlines a trio of forwards that includes himself, Al Horford (94.2, 3rd) and Jayson Tatum (96.1, 7th). 

Aron Baynes has the best defensive rating (90.6) among centers, followed by Horford (94.2).

“Our guys are locked in and really trying and again we can really play some pretty ugly basketball at times,” Stevens said. “But I do think that we are competing which is really good.”