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Keller @ Large: Do Desirable Long-Term Ends Justify Short-Term Sketchy Means?

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420x316-grad-keller2 Jon Keller
Veteran Boston political commentator Jon Keller is heard every weekday...
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BOSTON (CBS) — As regular listeners here know, I have a secret, shameful vice – once I’m done catching up with the news on WBZ, I like to listen to sports talk.

And lately on the Sports Hub, there’s been a lively debate that should be of interest to the non-sports fan as well.

Listen to Jon’s commentary

It concerns the Celtics, who finally decided to unload their aging superstars and have not immediately restocked with players who seem capable of competing for the championship.

So the debate goes like this – are the Celtics looking to finish out of the playoffs so they can compete for a high draft pick next spring who might be part of a future return to excellence?

Are they willing to tank games in order to ensure the best possible drafting position?

And if so, is that ethical and wise, or a sleazy betrayal of the fans who pay good money to attend their games?

Let’s stipulate that tanking does occur. I saw the Celtics do it with my own eyes during the 1996-97 season, when the big prize in the upcoming draft was the great center Tim Duncan.

But while the real test will come next spring when they may be on the cusp of making the playoffs, the current Celtics team shows no signs of tanking. General Manager Danny Ainge is reportedly angry that anyone would even suggest it.

Still, the situation raises a question we all may confront at one time or another – do desirable longer-term ends sometimes justify sketchy short-term means?

Would you ever intentionally undermine a boss you hoped to get rid of?

Is it OK for a politician to let a service decline in the hope that users will then provide the extra revenue needed to make it better?

“Tanking” sounds so dishonest. But re-brand it “strategic positioning,” and then you’re on to something.

Right, Mr. Ainge?

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.

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