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Saturday, 25 March 2017 11:37

Celtics Beat w/ Bob Ryan 3/26/17

202: Bob Ryan | Devin Booker 70 Points v Boston Celtics | Powered by CLNS Radio
Published in Celtics Beat
Friday, 14 October 2016 06:59

Celtics Beat w/ Bob Ryan 10/16/16

179: Bob Ryan | 2017 Boston Celtics Rapid Fire | Powered by CLNS Radio

Published in Celtics Beat

Longtime NBA Basketball Scribe Bob Ryan of the Boston Globe appears on the 155th edition of the #1 podcast on the web which covers the NBA's winngest franchise, Celtics Beat and discusses the Celts loss in the 2016 NBA Playoffs to the Atlanta Hawks, the improvement of many players on the roster, as well as what Boston should do with one Jared Sullinger.

Published in NBA - Boston Celtics
Tuesday, 15 March 2016 16:00

Boston Celtics Daily Links 3/15/16

News And Opinions From Around The Internet About The Boston Celtics

Published in NBA - Boston Celtics

Daughter of Famed Boston Celtics Patriarch Red Auerbach Outraged by Boston Celtics Game Presentation

Published in NBA - Boston Celtics

The former first-round draft pick reportedly dedicated the offseason to improving his conditioning; has he done enough to assure his future in a Celtic uniform?

Published in NBA - Boston Celtics

A Bob Ryan-like Picking Up the Pieces Column.  Unfortunately, a more depressing edition.

 

How uneventful is this David Stern retirement?

For as much pub as I thought it was going to get, it’s rather nothing more than the token tributes from journalists both print and online alike.

But it just hit me the other day: The guy who’s replacing Stern, Adam Silver, is nothing more than a carbon copy of David.  He rapidly rose through the ranks so fast at the NBA offices, bumping the astute and respectable Russ Granik out of the way along the way, because he was Stern’s yes-man and brown-noser extraordinaire.

This will be business as usual.  The communists going from Stalin to Khrushchev this is not.  Already Silver has discussed ‘extending the outreach of the game.’  That sounds all nice and dandy, but I’m pretty sure everyone on the planet knows what the game of basketball is.  We know that’s fluff.  The task Silver has set out for himself is: How do I force it down everyone’s throat and consume those even more who already have interest in the NBA?

Get ready.  Ads on jerseys, ads on the court, more games that look compromised – there will be no stopping Silver and league offices from pursuing the despicable marketing dollar.

***

And one more final thought on Stern: I’m tired of hearing how he did so much for the league by ‘expanding the NBA and the game of basketball.’

First off, the league was likely to expand anyways.  The NBA was already growing as Larry Bird and Magic Johnson brought back the American sports fan to the game as they helped wash away the dark ages of the drug use and violence that was rampant throughout the league in the late 1970s.  The NBA was well on its way to becoming a national fixture, and this would’ve happened with or without Stern.  That is unarguable.

All Stern did was accelerate the game’s growth, more so on a global level.  And considering this was done artificially, this hasn’t helped anyone except fill up the uber-rich associated with the NBA’s bank accounts even more.

As my favorite college professor told me: Make your politics selfish.  Well, in this case it’s: Make my interest in sports selfish.

What good has the rapid global expansion of the NBA over the last 25 years done for me? Sure, players are making more money, and executives and league investors are making way more money.  Hooray for them.  But this is not about them; it’s about me and the common fan.  Remember: Make your politics selfish.

Ticket prices are through the roof, cable bills are more expensive to pay for these enormous television deals, there’s the possibility that these games are compromised to create more appealing storylines (he almost assuredly fixed a lottery to get a superstar in New York), and the purity of the game has been washed away by selling out to squeeze every last penny from the marketing sponge.

So, yeah…exactly.  Unless you and your bank account has greatly benefited from ‘all of what David Stern has done for the game’ (and my guess is that’s highly unlikely) – don’t buy into this media love affair nonsense.

***

When a team stinks, usually it’s what happens off the court that develops into news rather that what happens on it (because an endless array of losses eventually stops becoming noteworthy.)

Such is the case with the Boston Celtics.

The big story for the week for the Celts? Gary Tanguay challenging Danny Ainge on the team’s flagship radio station, 98.5 FM, saying there is a conspiracy that Rajon Rondo isn’t trying his hardest so the Celtics can continue to lose more games and get a better chance at a higher draft pick.

I don’t know why I’m giving this the light of day, but since a lot of people are seriously having discussions over this imbecile’s ridiculous conspiracy theory, here goes:

1.)   Um, Rondo is coming off an ACL injury.  As discussed in last week’s column, the ACL injury has not been kind to basketball players.  The latest casualties being Derrick Rose and Danilo Gallinari who have re-injured themselves long term after attempting to come back from it.

2.)   Because of the ACL injury, he’s on a minutes restriction that has been advised by people with, you know, medical degrees.

3.)   Rondo has always been a guy who doesn’t give it 100% when he isn’t playing in the spotlight games.  Remember all the discussion, generated by people like Tanguay and his ilk, about how come Rondo gets all these triple doubles in national TV games, yet throws up goose eggs on Tuesday nights against the Clevelands of the world?

Gary, I understand asking the tough questions.  This writer has always been a supporter of that and has no problem shaming other talking heads who kiss up to the athletes and executives they are supposed to objectively cover in a quest to get scoops and interviews.

But this? With no evidence, or at the very least, reasonable arguments to back up this attention-seeking claim of yours? Especially when less than a week ago, you were claiming an entirely different conspiracy that Rondo was named captain by Danny Ainge to set the table for an eventual trade?

Trolling at its finest.  And faux journalism at its worst.

***

Chad Ford has reported that Kyrie Irving is unhappy and is privately telling his friends that he wants out of Cleveland.

Cue Knicks and Lakers fans wasting their time on the ESPN trade machine putting together ridiculous trades to land the young Cleveland point guard.

What the fascination is, I don’t know.  I mean, aren’t people, and more importantly team executives, aware that little guards have a shorter lifespan, and building your team around an elite little man generally doesn’t produce a championship, with the lone exception being Isiah Thomas?

Off the top of my head, only John Stockton and Steve Nash remained effective well into their 30s.  However, they made a career out of pick-and-rolls and pick-and-pops.

But these furiously-driving-the-line, crash-the-basket, do-whatever-it-takes-to-get-the-ball-in-the-hoop little guys?

Well, Isiah started declining from an individual standpoint when he was 27.  He was out of the league when he was 32.  Kevin Johnson, the player Irving is most popularly compared to, was no longer elite the moment he turned 30, and retired a year later.  Allen Iverson? We know that story.  Same for Tiny Archibald.  And so forth.

Humans generally begin to lose natural athleticism in their late 20s.  So when these little guys can’t beat their initial defender off the dribble as frequently as they used too, coupled with their small frames not having appropriate durability – you can see why smaller guards start to lose it so early.

So proceed with caution with Kyrie Irving.

(And Danny Ainge: Proceed with caution with an approaching-30-coming-off-an-ACL-injury Rajon Rondo.)

***

As Evan Turner hit a game winning shot in Boston, the Comcast feed of the Philadelphia Seventy-Sixers broadcast cut to a section of delirious Sixers fans after the game winning hoop.

I don’t mean to sound smug, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many 76ers fans in one place before.  And it was even more shocking that it came on a road venue.  It must’ve been some promotional giveaway (which would make sense as they were all wearing the same red t-shirts.)

Here’s the best-kept secret in the NBA, and it’s a shame why it isn’t brought up more: Philadelphia 76ers fans are awful.  Horrible.  And you can make a damn good case to me that they are the worst fans in the NBA.

Outside of a handful of seasons in the early 2000s with Allen Iverson – Philadelphia sports fans have NEVER supported that team.

In the late 1960s with Wilt Chamberlain, it was never a guarantee they’d sell out playoff games.

During the Julius Erving era in the late ‘70s-early ‘80s – owner Harold Katz repeatedly threatened to move the team. Why? Because no one went to their games despite having some of the greatest teams in NBA history.  In fact, during a broadcast during Game 6 of the 1982 Eastern Conference Finals, CBS announcer Dick Stockton mentioned how that if the Sixers were to lose another Game 7 in Boston (which they didn’t), a move out of Philadelphia would have been likely.

And recently as the Sixers have plunged into the abyss (save for a surprising season in 2012), Philadelphia fans have ranked at-or-near-the bottom in attendance since the Iverson trade in 2006.  Since 2007, the 76ers have ranked 28th, 26th, 24th, 29th, 30th (dead last), 18th (an outlier year, as the Sixers had a team that led the Atlantic Division for much of the season – which even still only got the Sixers to 18th in attendance), 22nd, and 29th.  In only one of these seasons have the Sixers been able to crack the 80% capacity mark.

So to journalists like Ashley Fox, for every puff piece I read on how wonderful Philadelphia fans are and how they get a bad rep for being classless (they are) all because they support their football team (winners of zero Super Bowls), it’d be nice if once and a while you could write an equally critical piece on how bad and apathetic Philadelphia fans are to their basketball team.

If you ask this writer, you ever talk about teams that should be relocated or even on the chopping block all together: the Philadelphia 76ers are right at the top of that list.

***

Lastly…

There are few things more uninteresting in life than the Winter Olympics.

Forget the hockey.  Obviously, watching a far more free-flowing, open brand of the game beats anything the NHL has to offer.  Miracles or not, Olympic hockey is a good product, and a nice treat during the sporting world’s “Dead Zone” (the lull between the Super Bowl and March Madness.)

But everything else? Glorified Winter X Games silliness.  Why not just have a video games tournament? Or a hotdog eating contest?

(Oh wait…we already have one of those?)

Nothing against the competitors, but from an entertainment standpoint, 98% of the stuff that the Winter Olympics has to offer is total crap.  Of course the networks (NBC) and advertisers have an easy sell to lure you in: They’re representing “your country” – so go drive up the television ratings and advertising hours by “supporting your country.”

And if you don’t? Oh, you’re somehow less of a patriot.  Which as we know, can’t be further from the truth.  Blindly and unconditionally supporting the flag of your country is nationalism.  Not patriotism.

I hearken back to what Michael Felger said in the run up to the debut of the ‘World Baseball Classic’ in the spring of 2006.  In defending his excitement of the new International tournament, Felger said that anytime athletes have the “U-S-A” across the chest – that he’s there.

How brainless is this? And more importantly, how do these athletes represent “my country?”

Hate to break it to you, but someone once told you Santa Claus doesn’t exist either: These competitors don’t represent “your country.”  They represent themselves.  What a slippery pass-off from the elected officials and the taxpayer-funded employees that do.

I’m sorry, but for every medal these athletes win (and for many of these silly events, can we even call some of these competitors “athletes”?) – does the United States get a discount on paying off the national debt? Do middle class Americans get a tax break? Do we get a share of their potential endorsement deals while they become famous for participating in these events?

If what transpires in the Winter Olympics amuses you, all the power to you.  We can all be happy for the competitors themselves, but please; don’t be drawn in all in the name of supporting the flag and the artificial emotions that are drummed up.

It’s just a sell-job to get you to watch this utterly unentertaining, uninteresting rubbish.

Published in NBA - Boston Celtics

The Top 50 Most Powerful Both In and Outside the NBA  

Who commands the most respect? Who helps shape the NBA itself, both inside and outside the league? Who is the most influential? Who helps shape opinion? Who is the most…powerful? Where we live in Mitt Romney’s world: where corporations ARE people. And now, Larry H. Russell’s NBA Power 50:

50.) MAVERICK CARTER (LRMR MARETING FOUNDER)  

But more so known as LeBron James’ buttboy. His connection to him single handedly gets him on this list.

49.) RICH PAUL (PLAYER AGENT)  

More notably – LeBron James’ agent.

48.) MALOOF BROTHERS/KEVIN JOHNSON (SACRAMENTO KINGS OWNERS/MAYOR OF SACRAMENTO)  

Gutless to put it like this, I know. So, it is TBD, and they both get an equal standing in this slot. The winner of the “Where Will the Kings Play?” charade will bump their opponent out.

47.) BOB RYAN (RETIRED BOSTON GLOBE COLUMNIST)  

As long as he is still alive, he will find a spot on lists like these. Ryan is the unofficial Chairman of the Intellectual Wing of NBA Fans. While he may not be recognized by a broad collection of NBA fans, there is still a solid portion of basketball fans who adhere whatever Ryan has to say about the NBA, with this writer being one of them.

46.) JOHN HOLLINGER (MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES VP BASKETBALL OPERATIONS)  

He is the Bill James of basketball, and more importantly – the creator of PER, which is now becoming the standard and most broadly used statistic to evaluate players.

Don’t expect Hollinger to be on this list next year. He is now in the Grizzlies front office.

However, 2012 was another year for the advancement of basketball analytics. At this point, it is on the verge of becoming entirely mainstream. And Hollinger was arguably the godfather of this movement.

45.) SYNERGY SPORTS (WEBSITE)  

The most commonly used means to access advanced statistics by fans, media members, as well as NBA front office members and coaches.

44.) MIKE BREEN (ESPN LEAD PLAY-BY-PLAY ANNOUNCER & MSG KNICKS LEAD PLAY-BY-PLAY ANNOUNCER)  

If you ever did a search for the phrase ‘company man’ on Google – I’m sure a photo of Mike Breen will come up somewhere.

An average play-by-play announcer, yet prototypical yes-man has been the Voice of the NBA since 2006.

So there’s a valuable life lesson for you, folks. As long as you’re willing to play ball, you might wind up in a pretty powerful position because ‘they’ will trust you. And you may even have the opportunity to help shape the opinions and views of millions – which is what Mike Breen does and is able to do.

If I have to hear this guy defend a horrible call by an official one more time…

43.) NBC SPORTS NETWORK (SPORTS NEWS NETWORK)  

While Dick Ebersol (unfortunately) lost half of the NBA coverage, including the NBA Finals, to ESPN back in 2002, Comcast recently bought out NBC and has repackaged themselves as part of the ever-expanding NBC Sports Network.

Now NBC Sports is run by younger crowd of media executives, such as Jon Miller (not the baseball announcer), Mark Lazarus, and Jon Litner. And in a little over a year, the NBC Sports Network has made huge strides in becoming a highly respected nationwide network for sports coverage.

Before going too far into detail, this writer will instead lead you to this must-read column by Chad Finn in last week’s Boston Globe if you want to learn more about how NBC Sports will help further shape sports journalism in the coming years.

From the basketball side of things, NBC Sports already has television rights to franchises with some of the largest NBA audiences (Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Golden State Warriors to name a few.)

NBC Sports’ basketball coverage is also featuring some fresh, and in some cases, more respectable faces than ESPN to provide insight and analysis from around the league. Guys like Adrian Wojnarowski, Marc Spears, and Chris Mannix, notable names in their own right – are being showcased (much to this writer’s delight.)

Whether NBC reacquires national rights to the NBA again in a few years, no one knows. But NBC is making a charge at ESPN, and their rights to local coverage of some NBA teams is helping them do it.

These guys are a little low right now, but if I had to predict, NBC Sports will become a far more powerful force in the NBA landscape in the years to come.

42.) STEPHEN A SMITH AND SKIP BAYLESS (ESPN PERSONALITIES)  

The fact that I have to put them here pisses me off so much that I won’t even provide any analysis of it. Feel free to do this on your own.

41.) NBADRAFT.NET (WEBSITE)  

When you’re a fan of a lottery or bottom tier playoff team, you generally get excited over the possibilities of the NBA Draft. So naturally, you start scurrying for any information on draft prospects, and then begin imagining how Prospect X and/or Prospect Y can help your team….AND THEN you begin thinking how your team can get Prospect X and/or Prospect Y.

This was certainly I back in the spring of 2001, when the Celtics were on their way to their sixth straight lottery appearance. But this time, they had three first round draft choices, (two in the lottery), in a very deep draft. The future, baby!

Because I didn’t watch much college basketball, (outside of March Madness), and was unfamiliar with the high school products, I began searching avidly for ways I could research draft prospects. One random day, I came across NBADraft.net on a Yahoo search, (yes, Yahoo search, not Google search – remember this was 2001 here, folks), and I, along with millions of others have stuck with it ever since.

Because the NBA doesn’t have their Mel Kiper (even though there are a lot of posers), it is the Internet that has provided the means for basketball fans to access information on draft prospects. While there are many great independent sites that provide great scouting, analysis, and reports on prospects – NBAdraft.net has been in the lead for as long as this writer can remember.

40.) DAN FEGAN (PLAYER AGENT)  

Fegan had a big victory in 2012 when he was able to steer his centerpiece client, Dwight Howard, to Los Angeles.

Recently, Fegan has taken a few blows, particularly when dealing with Geoff Petrie in Sacramento. Fegan was unable to convince Petrie to select Ricky Rubio back in 2009, and has held a grudge with Petrie ever since. Now Fegan is desperately trying to get his lone Kings client, DeMarcus Cousins, out of Sacramento by consistently spreading rumors all while Petrie as well as the Sacramento Kings owners, the Maloof brothers, have leaked to the media that the intend to keep Cousins. The Cousins saga will be interesting to watch not just to see where Cousins winds up, but also to see who wins the tug of war between Fegan and the Kings organization.

But the Howard move really helped score power points in 2012, and that gets him a place on this list.

39.) MARK CUBAN (DALLAS MAVERICKS OWNER)  

He’s probably the ‘coolest’ owner in sports, and is arguably the best owner. Stories are told time and time again of players dying to play for him.

Yet he loses so many of those points by being virtually powerless in his struggle against King David. Notoriously taken advantage of, and is often times punished just to be made an example of. So a little lower on this list than one would expect.

38.) MICHAEL WILBON (ESPN NBA ANALYST)  

On a network cluttered with reactionary, Baylessian analysis and theatrical debates – Wilbon serves as a low-keyed voice of reason.

Even though he may not be the brightest bulb in the box, he separates himself from the pack largely because….well, he doesn’t follow the pack.

Wilbon has been covering the NBA for thirty years and has served as an unofficial ambassador to the game to some of the league’s detractors largely because he is such a respected and experienced columnist.

And at the same time, he reaches out with the new breed of NBA fans as well (unlike his fellow old school sports journalist – Bob Ryan.)

37.) INSIDE THE NBA CREW (ERNIE JOHNSON, KENNY SMITH, SHAQUILLE O’NEAL)  

The only NBA show worth watching. It’s real, and they don’t go by the book.

36.) CHARLES BARKLEY (NBA ON TNT ANALYST)  

Largely because of this guy.

35.) KEVIN LOVE (MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES FORWARD)  

Love got off to a bad start in 2012 with his contract issues. But those contract issues has now led him to be a key player in the NBA.

He’s a little low now, but that’s just for 2012. When the unhappiness continues, and it will, in 2013 and beyond – Love is going to develop into one of the key figures in the NBA. He will be the next superstar that will be traded and become a key piece for another franchise.

Is there any doubt how this will end for Love? And is there an outside chance we can have a Patrick Roy situation on our hands here?

34.) MIKHAIL PROKHOROV (BROOKLYN NETS OWNER)  

Prokhorov may not have accomplished much in the concrete sense in 2012…well, besides that super arena (although the plans were there before he bought the team.)

However, his personality and fame, combined with the Nets moving out of the wasteland that was East Rutherford and into the heart of the capital of the world – has made the Nets, the Brooklyn Nets, a destination on the NBA map.

33.) BILL SIMMONS (ESPN NBA ANALYST)  

Simmons is a borderline deity to NBA bloggers everywhere since he was a pioneer with his writing style. Not only that, but he has also developed into one of the preeminent NBA historians, as bizarre as that sounds.

Even though many feel the quality of his writing has gone down – Simmons’ name has gone up. His podcasts in 2012 featured the likes of Barack Obama, Magic Johnson, and Larry Bird.

And the respect factor is there enough that ESPN felt the need to feature him on their much-maligned pre-game/halftime show for NBA basketball games.

Another thing to watch for with Simmons is the evolution of his Grantland site. While much of it is still based around combining sports with pop culture, the last year or so has seen the website publish quality basketball analysis using advanced analytics. Simmons gobbled up the uber-intelligent Zach Lowe to write for his site, and also features the likes of Kirk Goldsberry (Google him) to publish contributions.

It will be very interesting to see if Simmons, and Grantland, can help further advance The Revolution of how we analyze sports.

Oh, and Bill, if you are reading this, I hope you like your spot at #33.

32.) PHIL JACKSON (RETIRED NBA COACH)  

It has gotten to the point that any team that fires their head coach will inevitably be linked to arguably the greatest coach in the history of team sports.

That’s what happens when you’ve won 11 championships.

Jackson gets to sit on the sideline and wait for a situation that suits him, and then name his price.

Or so we thought.

Because when the Lakers turned around on him and brought in perennial coaching retread Mike D’Antoni to lead the league’s glamour franchise – Jackson’s power took a dent.

31.) PAT RILEY (MIAMI HEAT PRESIDENT)  

Considering that it looked like Team LeBron was throwing the kitchen sink at Eric Spoelstra by trying to undermine him through his lackeys in the media (*cough* Chris Broussard *cough*) – Riley held firm on this and would not let LeBron run the show as he was rumored to in Cleveland.

But unlike Cleveland, Riley has the backing and the stature that no one in Cleveland had. So LeBron and his team had to respect him – and they did.

Riley in power struggles will usually win, and he did in this case. But as time went on, LeBron ended up winning too.

30.) DOC RIVERS (BOSTON CELTICS HEAD COACH)  

Rivers was instrumental on the Celtics bringing much of their core back (Kevin Garnett was rumored as saying that Doc Rivers is the only coach he’d play for), as well as being an imperative recruiting tool in the Celtics landing some B-level free agents to play in a city that many NBA players view as a basketball Siberia.

Rivers holds a lot of keys, especially with the Celtics. If he quits the Celtics tomorrow – the Celtics as we know it would implode. And for his sake, he’d be someone who could sit back, wait for just about any opening he chooses, and command the salary he desires.

That tends to be the case when you were voted as the ‘coach NBA players would most like to play for’ in 2012, and are rumored to be the players’ choice to take over as the head coach of Team USA. Doc is one of the handful of coaches, both active and retired, who commands respect from just about any player in the league.

29.) JEFF VAN GUNDY (ESPN & ABC LEAD COLOR COMMENTATOR)  

Over the last six years as the color commentator on ESPN and ABC’s NBA team – Van Gundy has become not just the most in-depth, knowledgeable color commentator in the business, but someone who is unafraid to call out officials and bad calls. This resonates with a lot of people because there are many who feel there are aspects of the game that are being covered up and whitewashed by higher-ups.

Van Gundy is also someone who shoots from the hip when providing his analysis. He’s unafraid of criticizing even his co-workers, such as his fellow announcers Mike Breen and Mark Jackson (back when he was with ESPN.)

Because of this, much of the audience believes Van Gundy ‘keeps it real.’ He’s intelligent, but more importantly – he’s respected.

So when Van Gundy spends nearly all of the 2012 NBA Playoffs saying that flopping should be a punishable and finable offense – people listen, and even demand of the league to institute penalties for deceiving officials.

And here we are: flopping has been banned from the NBA. All thanks to Jeff Van Gundy, who was the driving force, and arguably the sole reason why this happened.

28.) DAVID FALK (PLAYER AGENT)  

If this column were written in 1998, one could make a case that he was one of the five most powerful people in the NBA. He was THE agent. He was Michael Jordan’s agent. He got whatever he wanted.

Now you have barely heard from the guy over the last 10 years. The only time his name did come up was the Elton Brand fiasco in the summer of 2008 when he directed him away from the Clippers (and screwing over Baron Davis in the process) to sign a max contract with Philadelphia.

Now he’s all but irrelevant. But why is he here you ask? Why is he TWENTY-EIGHT?

Two words: Jeff Green. This summer, Falk secured a four-year/36 million-dollar contract for Green’s services from the Boston Celtics. What made this unbelievable was: 1.) Green was to receive a one-year contract worth nine million dollars BEFORE it was found out that Green needed open-heart surgery just to stay alive. Now after an open-heart procedure, Falk and Green were somehow able to secure the nine million dollar salary, just with four added years! 2.) Falk did this with no other publicly known notable suitors for Green’s services. 3.) And um, Jeff Green is not a good basketball player.

During this whole diatribe, Falk sent a letter to Celtics’ GM Danny Ainge commending him for the classy way he handled the Jeff Green ‘situation.’

Memo to Danny Ainge and other NBA GMs: Anytime you are getting love letters from agents, particularly those that are as slippery as David Falk, means that you are getting screwed.

27.) BILL RUSSELL (RETIRED NBA PLAYER)  

Bill Russell the name and Bill Russell the person has enjoyed something of a renaissance the last five to seven years.

Ten years ago, Russell was more of a mythical creature from tales of a fantastical age. The almighty being who won 11 championships in 13 years. Did that really happen?!

First off, yes it did. But for some, for whatever reason – it was so hard to believe.

One of the possible reasons for this was that Russell completely faded away from the NBA scene in the late 1980s after another failed stint as a head coach. After being around the game following his retirement in 1969 as either a coach or one of the lead color commentators on ABC, CBS, TNT, or TBS – Russell was virtually invisible during the 1990s and early 2000s when the NBA was rapidly expanding, reaching new audiences, and becoming a global game.

But over the past few years, Russell has gained much appreciation from guys like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and Kevin Garnett. This appreciation from said superstars has developed into respect from virtually everyone in the NBA world. Just recently, the NBA named the Finals MVP after him, and was even presented a Presidential Medal of Freedom.

While NBA legends have become bitter old men (Kareem, Oscar), failed executives (Isiah, MJ, Elgin Baylor), complete media whores (Magic), spotlight-avoiders (Jerry West, Bird) – Russell is now the unofficial sage of NBA basketball. The link from the game’s present to the game’s past. Because no player of yesteryear commands the respect Russell does.

Heck, I now even see this guy on a Pepsi commercial for goodness sake.

26.) BLAKE GRIFFIN (LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS FORWARD)  

He has become basketball’s Peyton Manning.

He is one giant walking advertisement, and quite frankly, no one does the commercial better.

While many feel that NBA players can’t exactly reach out to everyone in America, Blake Griffin is bucking that trend and showing that HE can.

Couple that with the fact he may be arguably the NBA’s most exciting player, more and more doors will open for this guy as every day goes by.

Published in NBA - Boston Celtics

A Bob Ryan-like Picking Up the Pieces Column

 

You have to give credit to Jeff Van Gundy. During the past few years, he repeatedly used his position as the lead color commentator in the NBA to go on his soapbox about flopping.

He ranted about the most egregious ones – being the only member of the entire basketball media who truly attacked this issue. He suggested suspensions and fines – saying that with it, that it would eventually take flopping out of the game.

And over the years, because of his commentary, fans have become more and more enraged with the issue.

Sure enough, the NBA has instituted reviews for flopping. If a player is repeatedly caught deceiving officials – then appropriate fines will be bestowed upon the player.

Wonderful.

And there’s one man to thank. Thanks, Jeff. One of the few guys left in the media who shoots from the hip, and doesn’t say what the ESPN suits tell him to say. That should be a lesson to everyone in the media.

Van Gundy used his ethos to bring light of this issue to millions of NBA fans throughout the country, as well as league officials in the NBA. He may be the single man who will be the reason that flopping will make its way not just out of basketball, but of all sports.

You can call Jeff Van Gundy the Martin Luther King Jr. of sports.

***  

While we’re on the subject of ESPN, let’s discuss their new pre-game lineup.

Remember when this writer decimated their coverage of the NBA over the summer?

While it was gratifying the cord has been cut on that mouthpiece Chris Broussard – ESPN still just doesn’t get it.

Don’t they watch TNT with the rest of us? Do they see that they need analysts with their own personality who can just be themselves? Do they not see that the most respected man on their network is the only guy who has his own personality in the aforementioned Jeff Van Gundy?

So where is the vision? As mentioned in my ESPN column, there are two reasons for this: 1.) The high-rankers at ESPN have way too big of an ego. They want all their personalities to do things by the books with guidance from the suits. And 2.) ESPN is, shall we say, a little stingy. They don’t want to have to pay for guys that develop into too big of a name. They want to create an atmosphere where everyone can be replaced. It’s corporate America at its worst.

ESPN now has Bill Simmons and Stan Van Gundy to replace Broussard and Jon Barry on the pre-game show. Safe to say, they haven’t learned anything.

*** With Jared Sullinger pulling down five offensive rebounds in 26 minutes of play in Pre-Season Game #1, and three offensive rebounds in Game #2, this writer is of firm belief that Sully should be the starting power forward on October 30th in Miami. Sullinger is already the best offensive rebounder on the team, and his aggressiveness will set the tone for every member of the team if he’s already attacking the glass early in games. The second unit on the other hand, needs a little more scoring punch. Hopefully, with Jason Terry, Jeff Green, Courtney Lee/Avery Bradley, and now maybe Brandon Bass – the Celtics will be able to score some points against other teams second units. As discussed, this Celtics team needs a strong bench. This move works on all levels. ***  

Keep an eye on Chris Wilcox’s back. He’s never been a durable player by any means. Only once in his ten-year career has he played over 65 games in a season.

This would be an important loss to the Celtics as Wilcox is a very capable back up big man. More importantly, Wilcox’s presence keeps Darko Milicic and Jason Collins off the court during meaningful minutes of basketball.

***  

Speaking of injured players …

Andrew Bynum is routinely being held out of practice for ‘precautionary reasons.’

How predictable was this? Meanwhile Dwight is healing at a rapid pace and very well will be ready for the opener. Damn Lakers!

***  

It will be interesting to see if Carmelo Anthony carries over his stellar play from the Olympics, (as well as the second half of the 2012 season), into this year.

We all know of Anthony’s Olympics, where he was arguably Team USA’s MVP, but during the second half of last season, his field goal percentage rose six points.

Whether it be a new coach, finally being able to settle in in New York, Anthony finally became the player he was supposed to be during the months of February to August of the 2012 calendar year.

The Jeremy Lin controversy should only motivate him, as well.

If Anthony builds off his last few months, then New York is a very dangerous team. They have all the ingredients. In the second half of last season, their defense improved tremendously. They have one of the game’s three best defensive players in Tyson Chandler, one of the game’s best closers in Anthony, and a very capable second unit that brings energy and can put up points.

It all starts and ends with Anthony. If he can be that superstar, everything should come together for New York. And if that’s the case, then New York is clearly the team to watch in the Atlantic Division. They will be the team that gives the Celtics a run for their money – not Philadelphia.

***  

Speaking of Philadelphia – I’m not buying the hype.

Well, maybe not ‘hype’ per se. Let’s call it positive talk.

Lest we forget that over time, Doug Collins has a tendency to wear out his welcome with teams. This was never more the case than in his stint in the 1990s with the Detroit Pistons, where he took a young Piston team with a lot of talent to decent levels, but was never able to get out of the first round, and was eventually tuned out of the years.

Collins is good with a young team early on. He gets them to play hard and learn the fundamentals. However, eventually his bravado wears thin.

We began to see this at the end of last year when the Sixers tanked in the second half of the season, only to fortunately run into a Rose-less Chicago team that re-energized the team a bit.

With a full 82 game schedule, there’s a strong possibility that the players could have a breaking point with Dougie just like the three other teams he has coached.

Their off-season wasn’t as spectacular as some may think too. The Lou Williams loss is going a bit unnoticed. He was arguably the best bench player in the league last year with a 20.22 PER, and is only 25.

Then, while they gained Bynum – they lost Andre Igoudala to do so.

The rest of their team is flooded with decent parts, but it’s a lot of guys that don’t seem to fit.

And, as mentioned, let’s hold the phone with Andrew Bynum. He’s already injured. Not only that, he was traded by the Lakers no less. So he’s already had a voodoo put on him anyways. Well, that, and he’s already had three knee operations before the age of 25.

This writer won’t predict anything. But there’s just as good of a chance that this Sixer team could finish under .500 as there is of this team winning 50-55 games and challenging Boston for the division crown.

***  

What is it with the NBA? Going back to 2008, every season has now had some sort of anticipation with it due to major storylines around the league.

This year, Joe NBA Fan has the Lakers’ new team, Ray Allen to Miami, the Heat’s title defense, a competitive team in New York, the last-last-last run of the Boston Celtics, the Thunder on the verge of breaking through, Derrick Rose’s eventual return from injury, and so forth.

How come Major League Baseball or the NHL can’t market their game like this? How do they not get these compelling storylines? And how come they can’t reach out to the fans like the NBA can? It’s the only way to keep up with the NFL and America’s football obsession.

***  

This writer will take attending Celtics games over any of the four major sports in Boston.

The Patriots are too far away and football is a television sport anyways. Red Sox games are too long. Bruins games are too fast paced and commands every bit of your attention because if you take your eye off the game for even one split second you could essentially miss the whole game.

Celtics games are just right. They have a good atmosphere for 80% of the games, and whenever a Miami or Los Angeles rolls through – it’s a playoff type feel. The games always end before 10:15, sometimes before 10. Even the national broadcasts with 8 PM tips and extended commercial breaks go no later than 10:45. It’s in a great part of the city that’s very easy to get too. And there’s nothing short on things to do, and eat, before and after the games.

Just turn that music down a bit during the timeouts, and all would be good.

***  

I can’t believe I have to wait until January 27th for Ray Allen to return to Boston. Even the slightest loss of luster will alter the meaning of that game – when it shouldn’t. That game should have been played no later than Christmas Day, if not on Christmas Day.

***  

This month marks the six-year anniversary of the passing of Red Auerbach. It would be interesting to hear what he may think of today’s NBA, these Celtics, those Lakers, and just about anything.

Could be an idea for a column.

Onward …    

Published in NBA - Boston Celtics
Monday, 17 September 2012 17:58

Doc Rivers Sits Down With Bob Ryan

Celtics Doc Rivers

Recently, Celtics coach Doc Rivers sat down with Boston Globe's Bob Ryan and answered our pressing questions for the upcoming season.

Check out the interview: Part 1 here, part 2 here, & part 3 here.Doc first reminices on proving the critics wrong who said that Pierce, Garnett, and Allen couldn't win a championship in their first year together. He then comments that he was happy with what he saw from Garnett at the end of the regular season and during the playoffs. Doc goes on to Garnett's health; he says Garnett's feeling the best he's felt in years.Doc acknowledges that since moving Garnett to center, teams struggle to guard the Celtics. Instead of traditional power fowards and centers that generally stay in the paint, both Brandon Bass and Garnett are proficient shooters. Doc asserts that Garnett was often left ungaurded outside the paint and allowed him to develop his jumpshot.He goes on to say that from the beginning of the season, he predicted that Garnett would be moved to the center position, Bass would be moved to the power forward position, and a shooting guard would start for Ray Allen and have Allen coming off of the bench.The shooting guard who took that roll, Avery Bradley, has gone above and beyond the call of duty. Doc voiced his initial concerns if Bradley would even be a good player; however, Doc is tremendousy pleased with Bradley's production as starting shooting guard.Doc then moves to the Celtics' key offseason additions. He says that he will bring Jason Terry off of the bench, as Terry thrived in the 6th man roll in Dallas. Doc quiets the confusion; for the beginning of the season, Doc says that he will be starting Courtney Lee. However, Doc does not divulge his plans for the starting shooting guard after Bradley's return.After the games, Doc says he always watches the games twice. He encourages his assistant coaches to correct him on his mistakes, he says that's the best way to learn.For the upcoming season, Doc plans to make the Celtics better where they lack and even better where they excel. As 30th in the league in field goal attempts, he wants the Celtics to score more points and play at a faster pace. He would also like his team to create more shots, foul less, defend better from beyond the arch, and get to the foul line more often.Doc says he's not worried about L.A. and admits that Miami is the number one target; he asserts that although Miami will win at a "track meet", Boston will beat Miami at a thinking game. He asserts that he wants to make Miami think.I enjoyed the interview, Doc answered some of my pressing questions. I have to say that I'm a bit surprised that Doc didn't mention Rondo. Since Rondo is essentially becoming the Celtics' franchise player, I thought it was strange that he didn't come up in the conversation. For that matter, I'm surprised that Paul Pierce didn't come up either. I expected that Doc would talk about the rookies and their development, but he didn't. I'm very surprised that Doc didn't talk about the Celtics' rebounding woes, especially when he discussed what the Celtics needed to work at for the upcoming season. However, I'm so glad that Doc didn't talk about Allen past Bradley taking his spot; Allen is a closed chapter for the Celtics. I love how Doc just flat out said he didn't care about the Lakers. It was also encouraging to hear that Doc and I share the notion that Miami is the Celtic's number one priority.
Published in NBA - Boston Celtics
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Larry H. Russell

Senior editor and featured columnist for CLNS Radio. Celtics writer and historian. E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .