|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.
|10.06.10 at 10:04 am ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘¦
Are the Celtics “playing too much,” as Shaquille O’Neal says in this video? Talk about Hack-a-Shaq. Is it just me, or could Shaq have easily injured his back during this prank by Nate Robinson and Rajon Rondo? It’s not like Shaq is some 28-year-old, like Dwyane Wade, and even he got injured in the preseason. I know Rondo is used to getting knocked to the ground a handful of times every game, and I’m not sure if Robinson’s ever heard the phrase, “The bigger they are, the harder they fall.” But Shaq practically invented that saying, especially after this stunt. Listen, I’m all for the wacky Halloween dance videos and the old dump-salt-in-Shaq’s-water trick, but when these hijinks could potentially effect the team on the court, I think it’s gone a little too far.
QUOTES FROM AROUND THE NBA
Gilbert Arenas on John Wall: “I’m out there to hit open shots, teach John the ins-and-outs of the game and eventually go on and move on. And I’m on my way. This is the NBA, there are few players that stay in the same city. Right now, the city is John’s. I’m not here to fight anybody. I’m here to just play alongside of him. He’s Batman, and I’m Robin. I’m moving aside so he can become a star.”
(NOTE: Arenas is signed through 2014. Sounds kinda like he’s gonna be looking for a trade.)
Tracy McGrady on The Decision: “If I had the opportunity to team with someone like D-Wade — it’s about winning isn’t it? What everyone has a problem with is how LeBron did it. You shouldn’t do it that way. As far as him leaving, I’m happy for him. I hope they win 10 championships. I’m envious.”
(NOTE: I know you’re washed up, Tracy, but you’re still in the NBA. I’m pretty sure he just admitted the Pistons are going to be terrible, and he’d rather be playing in Miami.)
Jamario Moon on Cleveland life without LeBron: “It wasn’t strange at all, it’s home. We were anxious to get out there and show that basketball is still alive in Cleveland.”
(The NBA: Where delusion happens!)
Yao Ming on his return from injury: “I’m happy that I can get on the court and I can run. I was running without pain … and I think that’s a good first step.”
(Wait, it helps to actually get on the court and run in order to play basketball?)
DeMarcus Cousins on, well, I’m not sure: “I know I’m a big body as well. As well as I’m feeling them bump me, they’re feeling the exact same thing. That’s how I approach it. I feel you on that end; you’re going to feel me down on the other end.”
(I think I’m gonna stay away from this one. I also enjoyed his coach, Paul Westphal, admitting, “And if he ever gets in shape, he’ll really be able to do a lot.” Not what you want to hear.)
Mo Lester, mo problems for Mavs
I vaguely remember some caller phoning into WEEI last fall to declare, “Lester Hudson will challenge Rondo for the starting point guard spot.” At the time, I remember thinking, This guy’s a moron. I was right, of course. But maybe now that guy can point to Hudson’s game-winning 3-pointer against the Mavericks last night in a 97-94 Wizards win that saw Wall total 21 points and nine assists in his debut.
Bird nearly flew the coop?
In hopes of acquiring a high-profile coach in order to entice LeBron James to stay in Cleveland, the Cavaliers reached out to Larry Bird during their search to replace Mike Brown, according to ESPN.com.
“Bird did take the call,” sources told Marc Stein, “but quickly informed the Cavs that he had no interest in coaching again. Sources said Bird, 53, let Cleveland know that he wants to continue in his front-office work with the Pacers and that he has all but ruled out coaching again because of health and family reasons.”
Carr steering the ship?
Maybe former Celtic Chris Carr could be that replacement in the wings. Carr, after all, became a head coach … of a girls basketball team in Minnesota? After averaging 4.8 points in 35 games with the C’s in 2000-01, Carr retired from the NBA. Since then, he started the 43 Hoops Basketball Academy in Hopkins, Minn., so he could mentor youth athletes. Yesterday, he accepted the head girls basketball coaching position at Eden Prairie (Minn.) High ‘ in the same district his children attend school.
“Chris stood out during the interview process,” Eden Prairie athletic director Mike Grant told the Eden Prairie News. “One, he has the experience of having played at a very high level. Two, he has the experience of having played for a number of very talented coaches.”
Chris stood out during the interview process? You’re meaning to tell me that a 6-foot-6, 200-something pound former NBA player stood out while you were interview potential high school girls basketball coaches? You don’t say.
|10.05.10 at 4:58 pm ET|
A breakdown of the first five rounds of a mock 10-team fantasy basketball draft, in addition to the top-10 late-round sleepers and the top-10 players to avoid. Full disclosure: I am unstoppable at fantasy basketball. I also consulted commissioner James Hough of our annual league, Mondo Rondo.
(NOTE: Your season depends solely on the health of this pick.)
1. Kevin Durant: Team USA’s best player; absolute monster; fills every stat category.
2. LeBron James: Has a legit chance to average a triple-double.
3. Kobe Bryant: Even if not 100 percent, the game’s best player can’t slip past No. 3.
4. Chris Paul: Might be the No. 2 pick if not for the whole knee surgery thing.
5. Deron Williams: Averaged at least 18 points & 10 assists per game last 3 seasons.
6. Danny Granger: Most underrated player in the NBA on a bad team translates into numbers.
7. Dwight Howard: You’re giving up FT% with this pick … but likely winning FG%, blocks & boards.
8. Dwyane Wade: Stats will suffer beside LeBron, but still warrants first-round pick.
9. Dirk Nowitzki: The first-round guy I’d least like to have on my team still fills the statsheet.
10. Pau Gasol: He may look like a llama, but he’s the best offensive center in the game.
ROUND 2(NOTE: Either diversify your roster or lock categories down in your favor.)
11. Chris Bosh: He’ll still score, grab rebounds, block shots and make free throws.
12. Steve Nash: It’s a good thing defense isn’t really a category in fantasy hoops.
13. Amar’e Stoudemire: Last season under D’Antoni: 25.2 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 2.1 bpg, 59.0 FG%, 80.5 FT%.
14. Josh Smith: Draft him with Howard, and you win blocks & boards every week.
15. Stephen Curry: A first-round pick on most boards, I wouldn’t take him until now.
16. Brook Lopez: Never would’ve predicted he’d be a top-20 pick.
17. Carmelo Anthony: A top-10 player, but on a team he doesn’t want to play for.
18. Rajon Rondo: Points, assists, steals and FG% have gone up every year.
19. Derrick Rose: Is anybody else thinking he’s going to have a huge season?
20. David Lee: You can count the number of centers who have average 20 and 12 on one hand.
|10.05.10 at 3:26 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Speaking after the Celtics‘ practice Tuesday, Doc Rivers said that he doesn’t plan on rotating Jermaine O’Neal and Shaquille O’Neal in the starting lineup depending on match-ups, instead going with one consistent starter until Kendrick Perkins returns from his knee injury.
“I doubt it. I don’t usually do that,” said Rivers when asked if he was going to alternate between two big men. “I usually just go with one, and that’s what we’ll do. I’m going to wait until the end of camp and the best big wins.”
Regarding if he feels it makes a big difference which of the two get the starting nod, Rivers said, “It doesn’t. I think it’s going to come down to who we feel is going to give us the best chance to get off to a good start.” The Celtics’ coach also noted that he doesn’t expect to play both Jermaine and Shaquille on the floor at the same time.
Jermaine is still out with a left hamstring injury, and won’t play in the Celtics’ preseason opener at the Verizon Center in Manchester, N.H. Wednesday night. Shaquille, on the other hand, will get some playing time, along with the other healthy Celts, including Delonte West, who had been battling a sore back. “If guys have anything, they’re not playing.
“I think Shaq is in phenomenal shape,” Rivers added. Asked if he had lost weight the coach said jokingly, “I have no idea. I’ll tell you who would know, the other bigs. Ask them.”
GO HARD OR GO HOME: The Celtics will conduct what Rivers classified as “hard” practice prior to heading up to Manchester Wednesday afternoon. “We’ll practice hard tomorrow, go right to the bus, and then to the arena,” the coach said. “Some of the guys are going to be tired.” Rivers said he uses the first couple of preseason games to “tell you what you should be looking at.”
“We’re just going to go hard, and if somebody falls, they’re going to fall,” Rivers also said in regard to balancing getting ready for the season and not incurring any more injuries. “They’re playing hard, they’re playing really well. We do need to see somebody else, I’ll tell you that. And we need to see the NBA officials. Other than that, I’m happy so far where we’re at.”
SEMIH-EXCITED: Rivers has been impressed with the play of Semih Erden’s play thus far, saying of the 24-year-old, 7-foot-1 center, “We’re going to need Semih, and I keep saying that. I don’t know when, but he’ll be the axe in the glass: In case you need you have to break it. That may happen a lot, and I think it will happen a lot. Semih knows how to play basketball. He doesn’t know our stuff yet, but that will come.”
When asked about Erden’s play, Shaquille’s initial response was, “Semih Crawford? Yes, she’s gorgeous.” The center then went on to praise his rookie counterpart.”
TIMING IS EVERYTHING: The biggest piece of the puzzle that the Celtics seem intent on working on in the coming days is their overall timing.
“It’s getting there. I’ve been on teams where you get it right away, and I’ve been on teams where you get it at the right time. We have to have everybody master in March and April ‘¦ I’m not really concerned about being a perfect team right now,” Shaq said. “All the guys are unselfish. All the guys play hard. All the guys play smart. So we’re going to have our ups and downs, but that’s only going to make us stronger.”
When it was pointed out that he managed to make a few free throws down the stretch in the Celtics’ intra-squad scrimamge, O’Neal looked down at the reporter who asked if he was excited over making the buckets and said, “I don’t get pumped. I get pumped in June. I can’t wait to stick your face in some clam chowder.”
GETTING A VISIT: Attending practice was former Atlanta head coach Mike Woodson, Westford’s Jim Todd, who had been an assistant with Woodson with the Hawks, and Mike Jarvis.
|10.05.10 at 9:40 am ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘¦
Members of the Knicks, Lakers and Timberwolves were among the Americans warned yesterday of potential terrorist plots at sports arenas, according to the New York Daily News. The teams would reportedly return to the United States immediately if the terror alert increased.
“This is real,” a fomer senior U.S. counterterrorism official told the paper.
Man, after watching Jean Claude Van Damme in Sudden Death as a kid, I used to wonder if I’d enjoy teams like the Knicks and Lakers being involved in a terrorist plot, but this is scary stuff. In all honesty, let’s hope these teams make it home safe.
While the Lakers were busy losing to the Timberwolves overseas, NBA commissioner David Stern spoke to the British media about the sport’s future in Europe. His hope is that the upcoming 2012 London Olympics will spark basketball’s popularity in the United Kingdom. You know, because John Amaechi‘s 6.2 points per game didn’t quite capture the nation’s hearts during his five-year NBA career.
“It’s no secret that the UK trails other European markets in development, but we think this is a great market and participation rates are increasing,” Stern said. “That’s why we have our European headquarters in London, and we think the Olympics provides a huge opportunity to demonstrate that this is a sport of great inclusiveness.”
Admitting it’s certainly not in the near future, Stern was receptive to the idea of having not only one but an entire European division of NBA teams. “As our game gets better known post-Olympics, maybe that will come into view,” he said, “but it’s nothing soon.”
The NBA will gain further exposure when the Raptors and Nets meet for two games in London in March. I’m not sure a Raptors/Nets series will be the exposure Stern is looking for, but still …
Rondo: “It’s still the Big 3”
Rajon Rondo sat down with ESPN.com to promote today’s release of NBA 2K11. We learned that he’s gathered more about the history of his league from playing the video game than watching actual NBA games as a kid; Nate Robinson, Kevin Garnett and Glen Davis are actually video game geeks; and Rondo wants a 99 rating (the highest in the game). Yet, when Rondo discussed his real team, he was much more modest:
“It’s still the Big Three,” he told ESPN.com. “Shaq is four. Shaq is an enforcer. I know that from experience. He knocks guards like myself down, but he can’t hit me no more, so I’m excited about that. I’m just one of the guys. I’m not saying I’m not important, but this is a team game. The Big Three still get a lot of attention, and I’m just really excited to start the season with them and be a part of this team.”
C’s a safe bet
Gambling lines are already coming out for the C’s opening night game against the Heat on Oct. 26, and according to the oddsmakers, these teams are pretty even. PinnacleSports.com has the Celtics +1 home underdogs.
The MGM Mirage in Las Vegas reportedly listed the Celtics at 5-1 odds to win the NBA title. The Heat were 3-2, the Lakers 9-5, Bulls 6-1 and Magic 10-1. But on the Sportsbook.com website, the Celtics are 10-1 to win the NBA title this season, tied with the Orlando Magic behind the Lakers (5-2) and Heat (8-5).
If gambling were legal in the United States, that 10-1 C’s bet would be a solid value.
Hazed and confused
According to NBCSports.com, rookie hazing has begun in the NBA. The Sixers sent Evan Turner to buy Chick-fil-A for the entire team, while Pacers rookies Lance Stephenson and Paul George have been caught wearing pink Disney backpacks.
What do you think the Celtics should do to Avery Bradley, Luke Harangody and Semih Erden? I think they should make them wear the C’s uber-short ’80s shorts during the preseason. Maybe dance like fools in Halloween costumes? Oh, wait, KG, Robinson and Big Baby did that already.
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