|11.04.13 at 1:37 pm ET|
The city of Boston and the Celtics honored Bill Russell this past Friday, unveiling a 6-foot, 10-inch, 600-pound bronze statue of the 11-time NBA champion. Though the man has more championship rings than fingers, the ceremony detailed Russell’s work beyond basketball. For those in Russell’s inner circle — including Charles Barkley and Kenny “The Jet” Smith — the discussion was focused on Russell’s impact on society.
‘Most of us are too young to have seen him play,’ said Barkley. ‘But for guys like myself who got a chance to be around him, you see what a remarkable person he is. We know him more a man than a player.’
Barkley and Smith, who are teammates on TNT’s extraordinarily popular “Inside the NBA,” both consider themselves very fortunate to be friends with the legendary Russell.
‘He don’t talk to many people,’ said Barkley. ‘So if you get on the list, it’s pretty cool.’
Smith was drafted by the Kings in 1987 and played a half-season for Russell, who was in his final stint as a head coach.
‘I was his first-ever draft pick,’ said Smith. ‘I was overwhelmed meeting him. I didn’t know what to say, I didn’t know whether to call him ‘Coach Russell,’ ‘Bill,’ or ‘Mr. Russell,’ and then my assistant coach was Willis Reed. I was in heaven. He taught me what teamwork was all about, regardless of winning and losing.’
Smith, who emceed the ceremony, did not concentrate on Russell’s blocked shots or rebounds. He looks at him as a whole man, one who inspired people around the world and broke racial barriers. Smith thinks of the man who served as his mentor.
Russell’s greatest strength, in Smith’s words, is ‘his ability to take a basketball moment and relate it to a lifetime experience. Something that my teammates always thought was going to be a punishment for me — sitting next to coach Russell on the team bus — actually turned out to be the best moment of my life.’
Barkley laughed when recalling the story of Russell making Smith sit next to him on one of the Kings’ long bus rides. ‘Kenny said, ‘Why’ve I got to sit beside you?’ And Bill said, ‘Because that guy’s a loser, that guy’s a loser, that guy’s a loser, and I don’t want you sitting with them.’ ‘
Said Smith: ‘I sat next to him, on a bus ride or a plane ride, four hours a day. And if I went to sleep, he’d nudge me and go, ‘Sleep nights, young fella. Listen to what I’m saying.’ And I listened to all those stories. It’s a great feeling to know I was part of that. Not being Satch Sanders or Tommy Heinsohn or any other great players who played with him, I feel like I’m one of those.’
|11.04.13 at 10:34 am ET|
As if this Celtics season wasn’t sad enough so far, American Express just released this Paul Pierce ad. “The more I embrace Brooklyn, the more Brooklyn embraces me. It feels good being here. It feels like I’m home.”
P.S. Seriously, though, it’s nice to see Pierce embracing the Brooklyn community the way he did Boston.
|11.03.13 at 8:42 pm ET|
The Celtics have now dropped their first three games for the second time in the past three seasons, losing to the Pistons, 87-77, Sunday night at The Palace of Auburn Hills.
The Celts fought back from from a 10-point halftime deficit to cut the Pistons’ lead to five heading into the fourth quarter. Boston even took a brief two-point lead early in the fourth. But behind the frontcourt of Greg Monroe, Josh Smith and Andre Drummond (each scoring 15 points), the Pistons pulled away in the final quarter.
Not helping the Celtics’ cause was shooting 3-for-16 from beyond the 3-point arc, while being out-rebounded, 44-37.
A bright spot for the Celtics was rookie Kelly Olynyk, who netted 15 points while grabbing eight rebounds in 25 minutes. Jordan Crawford and Avery Bradley was the only other two Celts to finish in double-figures, scoring 13 points apiece.
|11.03.13 at 5:33 pm ET|
My words couldn’t possibly do justice to the stories shared about one of our greatest Americans at Friday’s Bill Russell Legacy Project unveiling, so I’ll let theirs do the talking. A transcript of the video is provided below.
|11.02.13 at 12:34 am ET|
Gerald Wallace has officially called out the Celtics more times than they’ve played games. After twice putting his teammates on blast during the preseason, it took all of two regular-season games for Wallace to rip them again.
“We got selfish,” he said after the Celtics blew a 22-point lead in a 105-98 loss to the Bucks. “We got selfish as a team. Instead of worrying about winning the ballgame, we were more worried about our stats, getting points. It showed. We went from a team that was together and moving and playing together in the first half to a team that was five individuals out on the court, everybody playing for themselves, and it showed on the defensive end.”
And who might be the stat-padding offenders?
|11.01.13 at 10:11 pm ET|
Bill Russell walked through that door, but he was 79 years old and watching from the front row after the city unveiled a statue in his honor on Friday afternoon. The Celtics still could’ve used his help.
The C’s built a second-half lead as large as 22, but the Bucks outscored them 34-15 in the fourth quarter to regain the lead in the final minute and steal a 105-98 victory in Boston’s home opener.
It wasn’t all bad for the Celtics, who got a double-double from Vitor Faverani (12 points, 18 rebounds) and nearly got a couple more from Brandon Bass (17 points, 9 rebounds) and Jeff Green (13 points, 9 rebounds).
WHAT WENT WRONG
Nets loss: Maybe it was the matchup. Maybe it’s more than that.
Maybe it’s Maybelline. Whatever it was, Kris Humphries, Keith Bogans and MarShon Brooks sat on the bench. For the entire game. Only Gerald Wallace, who started for the second straight game, saw the floor among those acquired in the Paul Pierce-Kevin Garnett trade.
Glass wipe: The Celtics talked a whole lot about rebounding better after getting trounced on the glass and allowing 19 offensive boards in the season opener. And while they owned the overall rebounding edge against Milwaukee, the C’s still allowed 17 offensive rebounds that led to 22 second-chance points for the Bucks.
Lame late: The Celtics built a lead as large as 22 after a 9-0 lead early in the third quarter, and then proceeded to watch it slowly disappear like a codeine drip. From 9:32 to 3:54 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Bucks went on a 16-4 run that tied the game, 93-93. Wallace drilled a 3-pointer that briefly gave the C’s a cushion, but a late controversial call handed Zaza Pachulia a pair of free throws that gave the Bucks the lead for good in the final minute.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
El Hombre Indestructible: Is Vitor Faverani still the best? It appears so. Vitor likes blocks, so in the opening two minutes of the contest he introduced himself to last year’s block percentage leader, Larry Sanders, with the first of his six blocks. Vitor likes dunks, so he threw one down for his first NBA basket 5:17 into the game. Vitor like rebounds, so he grabbed 11 of them by halftime. Vitor like physical plays, so he tried to charge through Sanders for one of his four turnovers. Hey, Vitor Faverani’s not perfect. He’s just the best.
Downright offensive: Playing without a point guard, the Celtics pushed the ball, attacked the basket and shared the scoring load. Sound familiar? It shouldn’t. These C’s netted 11 points on the break and 23 on second-chance opportunities (thanks to 18 offensive boards), and somehow they did it with just 13 assists on 34 field goals. The offense fell apart late, but the Celtics’ 83 points through three quarters was encouraging.
Wonderful Lee: After committing as many turnovers as he had points and submitting a minus-16 rating against the Raptors on Wednesday night, Courtney Lee bounced back with exactly the type of game the Celtics would like to see out of him on a nightly basis. He added three rebounds and a couple steals to his 13 points in 26 minutes off the bench.
|11.01.13 at 8:06 pm ET|
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