|10.09.10 at 4:03 pm ET|
The fact that the Celtics gathered at Fenway Park on their off day for an impromptu softball game is perhaps less noteworthy than the identity of the organizer. That would be Rajon Rondo, who has been criticized at times for not knowing when to assert his authority as the team’s point guard in a room full of Hall of Famers.
No question, the Celtics are having a good time getting to know one another.
“We’re having a blast,” Garnett said. “We come in here and bust each other’s [butt.]. Doc he lets us be competitive and be who we are and then off the court we try to get to know each other. It just so happens that we got more people that Tweet more than anything on this team than anybody in the league. That’s why y’all know what’s going on in the locker room, but we’re having a good time. We work hard but also we play hard.”
The softball game followed movie night in Newport, assorted team dinners and a duck boat tour. One of Garnett’s tenets is that teams that know each other off the floor are better able to relate with one another when they’re working on the court.
“It certainly doesn’t hurt,” he said. “The more you do together, the more activities you have together, the more you get to know one another, the more one-on-one’s you have with each other. … You come together for this common goal, so far so good.”
Rondo was apparently voted the MVP of the game, while Jermaine O’Neal surprised everyone with his swing. As for Garnett, he played left in the shadow of Ted Williams, Yaz, Jim Rice and Manny Ramirez. Judging by his own description, Theo Epstein shouldn’t have him on speed dial.
“Danny [Ainge] hit a couple to me,” Garnett said. “Some I dropped, some I didn’t. Good day. 50-50. I’ll take it. It was fun day. Beautiful day at Fenway. Dream come true. I felt like I was 10 years old.”
|10.09.10 at 3:42 pm ET|
Doc Rivers downplayed speculation that he would one day go to Miami to coach Pat Riley’s South Beach juggernaut. “I’m not getting into that.,” Rivers said Saturday after the Celtics concluded practice. “The only guy on [Riley’s] list is Erik [Spoelstra] and that’s the only guy that should be there. I’m not going there.”
Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski wrote that Rivers would be at the top of Riley’s list if he were to make a change. In the same piece, Rivers told Woj that he’s given thought to being a career Celtics coach.
“I’m year to year,” Rivers reiterated Saturday. “That’s how I am. The question asked is, where else would you rather go? And I don’t think there’s a better place than here. It’s a great set-up and it is phenomenal.”
Much of the basis for Rivers’ decision to return for the final season of his contract is his relationship with Celtics boss Danny Ainge. The coach has said often that he has a unique friendship with Ainge, and that’s not something coaches can find in every city.
“It’s the organization,” Rivers said. “You look at the Red Sox and see Theo [Epstein] and Terry [Francona] and they have a great relationship. It works. When you can get along it’s nice. You look around and there’s so many groups that’s them and us. Here it’s just us.
“Maybe because we went through hard times at the start. Not our relationship, but we weren’t winning a lot of games. When you endure that as a group, I think you clearly grow together. It’s amazing through that whole time I thought as a group, we got closer and that’s rare.”
“He’s been able to coach a young team and he’s shown he can build a veteran team with a lot of personalities,” Pierce said. “That’s a difficult combination for a coach. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Doc here for another 20 years, and you might see me here too.”
|10.08.10 at 3:06 pm ET|
I swear, the best stories always pop up around Shaquille O’Neal. This stuff just wouldn’t come up if he weren’t around. Anyhow, Shaq and Paris Hilton obviously both want Einstein, the world’s smallest horse, who resides in Gilmanton, N.H. Only they can’t have him.
“Shaq would have to arm-wrestle Paris Hilton for him,” the horse’s owner, Charlie Cantrell, told the New Hampshire Union Leader. “We’ve been contacted by so many people, but he’s not for sale. He’s priceless.”
Now, I’m positive Paris has no idea who Einstein is. Shaq, on the other hand, probably does. In fact, he’s probably called himself The Big Einstein at some point his career. Of course, I have to make the obvious joke: Why would Shaq want the world’s smallest horse, when he already has a rather small, self-proclaimed donkey (Nate Robinson) on his own team? And … scene.
|10.08.10 at 9:48 am ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘¦
Um, Ok, Big Baby, whatever you say. Is it just me, or is anybody else confused as to what Glen Davis is saying here to NBA TV …
“Everybody on the East Coast watch out. We’re coming. Working hard on the elliptical. Get a nice burn before practice. Get rid of some of this body fat. They ain’t gonna call me Big Baby no more. They gonna call me Big ‘Swoll’ Baby.”
I’m not gonna lie, I actually had to consult UrbanDictionary.com on this one. They define “swoll” as “to be muscular, jacked, strong, etc.” (I also love their use of it in a sentence: “Man, I’m mo swoll than AC Slater“).
So, to get this straight, Davis no longer wanted to be called Big Baby, so last season he suggested Uno Uno, and now he wants to be called Big Swoll Baby. I think I’ve got it now.
The buffer Davis led all Celtics scorers with 20 points in last night’s 96-92 preseason victory against the Nets. Once again, the C’s second unit looked sharp, as Nate Robinson added 17 points and Delonte West scored 12 before leaving in the third quarter with discomfort in his lower back.
If you’ll recall, West missed Monday’s practice with lower back spasms. Not to worry, he stressed.
“I came in at halftime and felt my lower back pinching,” West told ESPN.com. “It’s real minor, but the muscle back there was tightening up and I think the tension was pinching the nerve, maybe. It was real uncomfortable. You saw me out there stretching before I went in for the third quarter, I just couldn’t move the way I wanted to. It’s just precautionary.”
LAKERS NO LONGER WORLD CHAMPIONS
NBA Commissioner David Stern made a bold prediction yesterday: “We’re going to have, really, our most successful season. … I think you’re going to be getting to see some of the greatest basketball ever played.” He made the statement prior to a game between Euroleague champ FC Barcelona and the NBA champion Lakers.
The Spanish team actually defeated the Lakers, 92-88, adding fire to the debate: Should the NBA champs face off against the Euroleague champs in a battle for world domination?
Stern: “I would guess that we will be in continued discussions with our friends at the Euroleague about an expansion of this possibility.”
Euroleague CEO Jordi Bertomeu: “To us, it is something we would like to happen. We would like it because that would mean that we would have met the circumstances, both sporting and economic, to make a game like that possible. We can only hope and expect, and I do, that with the work of our clubs and teams, those conditions will be met. In the event that those conditions are met, and continuing the same collaborations we have had so far between the Euroleague and the NBA, I am sure such a game would be a possibility.”
Jackson: “They’re not up to the competition that we face night in and night out. But that’s not taking anything away from them. The physicality of our game, the size of our players, those are things that night in and night out are very difficult to contest.”
Bryant: “I think they execute extremely well, they know each other extremely well, they move the ball extremely well and that’s what you’re looking for. In the NBA, teams that do that are few and far in between, teams that play together as a unit. You see a lot of isolation game; you see a lot of guys going one-on-one. They do a great job moving the ball, they do a great job helping each other defensively, so I disagree, but, what do I know?”
Bryant hit just 2-of-15 shots in the loss to Barcelona. As we all know, failing to perform in championship games is nothing new to Kobe. Remember his 6-for-24 performance in the final game of the 2010 NBA Finals? Of course. How could you forget?
|10.08.10 at 9:05 am ET|
New city. New team. Same routine.
Shaquille O’Neal has taken the third-most free throws of any player in the NBA (11,347), and trails only Wilt Chamberlain in the amount he has missed (5,974). But what he might lead the professional basketball-playing world in is something that no stat service will hand over ‘ advice.
Wherever O’Neal has gone he has been besieged by legions of well-meaning observers who swear they have the elixir to the big man’s free throw shooting woes.
For those people, Shaq has a message: Don’t bother.
‘I never take advice,’ O’Neal told WEEI.com after Tuesday’s practice, saying he learned that lesson by his second season in the league.
‘Actually taking advice made my numbers drop. Whatever you use to get you to where you are at you should never change.’
Where O’Neal is at is an incredibly successful basketball player, which a prolific ability to miss free throws. He has the second-worst free throw shooting percentage in the history of the NBA (.527), with Chamberlain the only player to have shot worse (.511).
(Fear not, even if O’Neal duplicates his 112-for-226 performance of a season ago — .496 ‘ it will only knock him down to .526.
‘I could care less. How many years has he played? I’m not smarter than anybody else he’s had. He’s only had Riley, Phil Jackson,’ said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. ‘I’m not going to try and do anything with him. The day we signed Shaq I got letters, people, everybody giving advice. If you can get a hold of him, have at it.’
‘Everybody would come up to him. Even players wanted to show him how to do it,’ said Celtics guard Delonte West, who played with O’Neal in Cleveland last season. ‘He wants to do it his way. But you would be surprised, he’s been knocking them down in practice. We’ve been doing ‘Hack-A-Shaq’ in practice and he’s been making us pay for it every time.’
Unfortunately for the Celtics, the perceived improvement hasn’t translated into the games as of yet. O’Neal — whose 226 attempts last season were the fewest of his career — has taken five free throws in the Celts’ first two exhibition games and missed them all.
But while O’Neal isn’t keen on soaking in unsolicited advice, it doesn’t mean he isn’t going to take advantage the resources available to him.
What O’Neal can draw upon now is the expertise of one of the greatest free throw shooters of all-time, Ray Allen, who enters the season with the fifth-best percentage in the history of the game (.894). (For reference sake, Allen has missed 458 regular season free throws in his 14-season career. In the 2000-01 campaign alone, O’Neal misfired 473 times.)
‘I won’t say anything to him about his foul shooting unless he asks. He’s been around long enough. I feel like if he wants to get better, or if he feels like he’s at a point where he doesn’t realize what he’s doing he’ll come to me,’ Allen explained.
If he says something like, ‘I don’t feel good about free throws’ I might step in and say, ‘This is what I see.’ He actually said something to me earlier and I just gave him some advice. But they have to come to me first. I’m not going to over-inundate them with advice or knowledge with what I know, because what works for me might now work for somebody else.’
|10.07.10 at 12:48 pm ET|
1. LA Lakers: As the long as the Lakers avoid terrorist threats in Europe and manage to stay healthy, they’ll hang on to this spot throughout the preseason. I’m not too worried about a loss to the T-Wolves or Kobe’s knee being 60 percent. And they’re pretty used to surviving without Bynum at this point.
2. Boston: When your biggest question mark is whether Von Wafer or Mario West will fill the final spot on the roster, I’d say your team is in pretty good shape … as long as Nate Robinson doesn’t hurt Shaq with one of his pranks. Oh, and Semih Erden looks like he’ll actually contribute.
3. Miami: Don’t let D-Wade’s hamstring injury alarm you. Those things happen in the preseason, and he’s played through far worse. The Heat looked good. No surprise there. And if Udonis Haslem keeps contributing like he has, they just might slide up to No. 2 on opening night.
4. Oklahoma City: The Thunder recently invited the greatest name in the NBA to their training camp: Longar Longar. If he makes the team, watch out league. What better complement to Durant, Westbrook and Green?
5. Dallas: The Mavericks are a bunch of 30-somethings who have a limited window left to challenge for an NBA title. Sound familiar? Yup, they’re like the Celtics, only they don’t rebound much and play porous defense. Still, they’ll be tough out West.
|10.07.10 at 10:02 am ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘¦
NBA.com released its ninth annual GM Survey, and I’ll tell ya: Rodney Dangerfield got more respect than the Celtics. Sixty questions were posed to the league’s general managers. Here are the highlights (or lowlights) …
- 63 percent of GMs believe the Lakers will win a third straight title. The Heat got 33.3 percent of the vote, and Boston got the remaining 3.7 percent. However, 100 percent of GMs think the C’s will win the Atlantic Division, so they’ve got that going for them.
- 75 percent of GMs believe the C’s are the best defensive team in the NBA, and Rajon Rondo received the most votes (32.1 percent) as the NBA’s best on-the-ball defender. Defense wins championships, no?
- Kevin Garnett picked up votes for best defensive player and best interior defender in the league, but Dwight Howard dominated both categories.
- 66.7 percent of GMs predicted Kevin Durant would win MVP. Kobe Bryant was next on the list with 25.9 percent of the vote. Semih Erden did not receive a vote … yet.
- 55.6 percent of GMs would take Durant to start their team. Only 25.9 percent said they’d take LeBron James. To me, this is the most surprising outcome. In 2009, LeBron got 78.6 percent of the vote . Apparently, his reputation took a hit within the NBA, too.
- Not a single GM picked Rondo as the NBA’s best point guard . Deron Williams got half the votes, followed by Chris Paul (35.7 percent), Steve Nash (10.7) and Chauncey Billups (3.6). Billups over Rondo? Really?
- The only Celtic to receive a vote for best player at his position was Garnett, and he finished well behind co-winners Pau Gasol (isn’t he a center?) and Dirk Nowitzki.
- Ray Allen won two categories: best pure shooter and best at moving without the ball. Ray also received a vote for the player who will make the best coach.
- GMs believe Doc comes up with the best defensive schemes in the league. Doc Rivers received a vote for the NBA’s best coach, but Phil Jackson won in a landslide. The “who’s the best manager/motivator of people” vote was closer, but Jackson still won (46.4 percent to 26.8).
- Believe it or not, the C’s Luke Harangody is the most likely rookie to be a sleeper success.
- The Garden is not the hardest building to play in. EnergySolutions Arena in Utah is.
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