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Irish Coffee: An NBA tribute to Leslie Nielsen

11.29.10 at 11:13 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …

I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out the basketball ties in the wake of Sunday’s passing of Leslie Nielsen — one of the great comedic actors in history.

Playing Dr. Rumack in the 1980 comedy classic “Airplane”, Nielsen starred alongside NBA Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as Roger Murdock. Unfortunately, Nielsen didn’t appear in Kareem’s best scene.

In addition, back in 1994, when Del Harris assumed the head coaching position of the Los Angeles Lakers, he joked about serving as a double for Nielsen in Hollywood. ESPN.com’s Marc Stein contacted Harris for comment …

“We had already had the lookalike thing going, and I had actually signed a name to an autograph a time or two, so I said to him, ‘How about going in the locker room and act like you are me and tell them they played a good game or you are proud of them or whatever you have.’ He did it and the guys loved it.

“He brought a lot of laughter to the world, but not tonight. Peace, Leslie.”

Of course, Nielsen also had ties to the NFL (co-starring alongside O.J. Simpson in the “Naked Gun” movies) and Major League Baseball (impersonating an umpire in “Naked Gun”).

R.I.P. Leslie Nielsen. Now, on to some Boston Celtics links …

Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers shouts at a referee as Kevin Garnett looks on during the first quarter of a NBA basketball game against the New Jersey Nets in Boston on Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2010.

Celtics head coach Doc Rivers expects to catch 10 of his son Austin's games this season. (AP)

DOC’S DIAGNOSIS OF AUSTIN RIVERS

NBA.com’s Shaun Powell caught up with Doc Rivers to discuss the success of his son, Austin Rivers, who ranks No. 1 among Class of 2011 high school basketball recruits.

The only actual news to come from the story is that Doc will miss up to 10 potential practice days in order to catch some of his son’s games in Florida.

“It’s not the best way, but it’s the only way,” Rivers told Powell. “If they play and I’m off, I’m there.”

Will Doc’s potential absence for as many as 10 practice days affect this veteran-laden Celtics team? In my mind, no chance. It might have some small effect on a young team, but because of their collective experience this C’s squad is the ideal group for Rivers in this situation, as a few absences in favor of father-son bonding shouldn’t impact their success one way or another.

And, in many ways, the father-son relationship between Doc and Austin Rivers is just like any other involving a teenager.

“You know when you’re a teenager you really don’t even want to talk to your parents anymore,” Doc said, with a laugh. “So basketball does give you a conversation piece. While the bond my wife and I have with all of our kids is away from basketball, it helps.”

In other ways, their relationship is unlike most, in that Doc could one day coach his son in the NBA.

“I harbor dreams that he makes it to the league,” Rivers said. “But coaching him? That’d be tough. Because I have to live with his mom. She runs the household. If I didn’t play him one day, I’d have to go home to his mother. And that would be no fun at all.”

Of course, if Austin Rivers lives up to his billing as the nation’s No. 1 recruit, the Celtics probably won’t have a chance at drafting him in a few years — considering he’d be a top-10 pick in that scenario.

FORMER CELTICS STRUGGLE TO FIND HOMES

In a bizarre story over the holiday weekend, despite Stephon Marbury‘s popularity in the Chinese Basketball Association last season, Shanxi Zhongyu opted not to sign the former Celtics guard to one of its three contracts allotted for international players.

Not only that, but the team only alerted Marbury after he arrived for training camp in Taiyuan. As a result, he hasn’t been able to sign with another CBA team, because they too have signed their three international players.

“If they said they weren’t going to sign him a month ago, then Marbury still would have had a lot of other opportunities because there are still some teams who are quite interested in him,” Titan Sports associated editor and close Marbury confidant Yang Yi told NIUBBall.com.  “But now, every CBA team has already signed their import players, so it’s going to be real tough for Marbury to find a team to play with.

“He’s dissapointed in Shanxi.  This is treachery.  Marbury isn’t strapped for cash, he doesn’t need to play in China because he needs money.  He just feels really sad because he loves Shanxi.  This summer he was working out and keeping his body in shape.  He feels really hurt by the team.”

In other news, former Celtics All-Star Antoine Walker could sign a contract with the NBA Development League as soon as Monday.

One former Celtic who isn’t having trouble finding his place is Al Jefferson, who got emotional after his Utah Jazz upset the Los Angeles Lakers.

“I haven’t beaten the Lakers in probably six years, since I left Boston, and I haven’t been in a playoff game in six years and it felt like a playoff game,” Jefferson told The Orange County Register. “Every possession counted. Kobe Bryant being who he is, and we were down, we fought back, we didn’t give up. We won against all odds. It was just amazing, man. I’m overwhelmed. It’s never been like this before, and to be a part of this. It just meant a lot to me.”

CAN RAJON RONDO AVERAGE 20 ASSISTS?

Rajon Rondo believes he can average 20 assists per game. At least, that’s what he told NBA FanHouse.

OK, so how many assists per game does Rondo believe he can average this season?

“Twenty,” he said.

Realistically, how many?

“Twenty,” said Rondo, who did hand out 24 Oct. 29 against New York but hasn’t exceeded 17 in any other game.

OK, why do you think that?

“Because we’re shooting the ball extremely well,” he said. “We’re playing together and moving the ball.”

In order to produce 20 assists a game, Rondo would have to average 21.1 dimes over the next 66 games this season. While I’m not buying that — considering he’s only eclipsed 20 assists once this season — I still think he has a shot at John Stockton‘s 1989-90 NBA record of 14.5 assists per game.

SHAQ DOMINATES BASKET & RINGS

The Onion once again took on the Celtics, this time in a tonge-in-cheek article entitled, “Shaquille O’Neal shows he can still dominate around basket of fries.” Here’s a sample:

“Shaq’s already got four onion rings on his fingers, but he still wants to get one more for the thumb,” Kevin Garnett said. “And you know what? Tonight he showed he’s going to do whatever it takes to get a whole handful of onion rings. Whatever it takes.”

Never a dull moment when it comes to this Celtics squad.

(Have a question, concern or conception for tomorrow’s Irish Coffee? Send a message to @brohrbach on Twitter.)

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