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Irish Coffee: It’s a shame about Clifford Ray

01.04.11 at 12:03 pm ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …

Either Peter Vecsey doesn’t like the Celtics, or the Celtics didn’t like former assistant coach Clifford Ray, because Vecsey detailed a pretty bizarre set of circumstances he claims led to Ray’s departure.

Here’s the nuts and bolts of the New York Post story:

Two weeks before the season began, Celtics head coach Doc Rivers, who kept assistant Clifford Ray on hold the whole summer, informed him his services would no longer be needed.

An agreement eventually was signed by Ray, who was pressured by team president Danny Ainge to sign by a certain date (without getting lawyers involved) or forget it. Ray, the 1974-75 champion Warriors’ starting center, received $100,000 to go away quietly, enough to keep him and his family (including a 13-year-old son) going for a year or so.

Additionally, the Celtics approved medical attention for Ray, specifically for an MRSA infection he contracted in his foot several years ago while working (hence, the boot he wore so long) in Boston’s contaminated practice facility; Paul Pierce and Delonte West also got sick.

Had Ray not been in Minnesota last summer and gone, at the urging of his girlfriend, to the Mayo Clinic, doctors told him he was within days of having his foot amputated.

Rivers told Boston reporters he had no room in back of the bench for Ray because newly hired first assistant Lawrence Frank‘s deal allowed him to enlist a friend.

True enough. But the real reason Ray wasn’t invited back is because Rivers didn’t think he was healthy enough to get out on the floor and coach. Like the infection was Ray’s fault. Like Rivers didn’t know Ray was ailing for years. Like he couldn’t have reached that conclusion last June so that Ray would’ve had ample time to find work elsewhere.

Pierce and West both missed games in 2006 with infections in their finger and toe, respectively. Pierce also missed two weeks last season with an infection in his knee. Whether or not any of those incidents are related to what Vescey described as a “contaminated practice facility” is unclear.

Also, the “friend” of Lawrence Frank who joined the Celtics staff is Roy Rogers, who coached in the NBA Development League from 2004-07 before serving as an assistant under Frank with the Nets from 2008-10. He also played nine games for the Celtics during a three-year NBA career.

The Celtics would not comment on personnel matters, but there’s little doubt they were in the wrong about one thing: Dropping Ray in September, just before the season, was no way to treat someone who’d been with the organization for a four-year span that included an NBA title in 2008.

RAJON RONDO GETS CARRIED

Shaquille O’Neal carried Rajon Rondo into the locker room and placed him on his chair prior to Monday night’s victory against the Timberwolves.

Shaq then asked the point guard, “Anything else, King Rondo?”

To which Rondo replied, “No. that’s all for now.”

RAY ALLEN’S BLOCK PARTY

The best play of the night in the Celtics’ 96-93 win over the T-Wolves didn’t show up in the stat box. Luke Ridnour‘s traveling violation nixed a tremendous block by Ray Allen that preserved the lead in the final seconds.

“I knew Ray had it,” Rivers joked. “All the way. Yeah, we put Ray back there to protect the basket.”

Ridnour wasn’t in such a joking mood, as reported by the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

“It wasn’t a travel,” Ridnour said as he turned back to his locker. “At least I didn’t think it was.” …

“Ray made a heck of a play to block it anyway, but I think it should have been our ball,” Ridnour said after watching a replay that appeared to show he took three steps. “I’m not going to criticize the referees. At that junction of the game, it seemed like a tough call to me.”

KEEPING UP WITH KENDRICK PERKINS

Kendrick Perkins

Yahoo’s Marc Spears caught up with Kendrick Perkins during his recovery, and the Celtics’ center touched on pretty much everything. The highlights:

  • On whether the C’s would’ve beaten the Lakers with him in the lineup: “For sure, we would have won the championship.”
  • On the Celtics’ chances this season: “In seven games I don’t think we can be beat by any team. Too deep. Too much experience. Too many hard-working guys. Too many guys that have a chip on their shoulder.”
  • On when he’ll return: “I’m thinking right before the All-Star Break I will get a few games in, but maybe a little sooner than that. Things are going well. I haven’t had any setbacks or anything like that.”
  • On his looming free agency: “I will show that I’m back and there are no issues with my knee. I will have a bright future as far as free agency. We will see how this season turns out and how it goes from there. I want to be with the Celtics, but I got to think about my future.”

Spears mentioned the Rockets and Thunder as potential destinations for Perkins if he doesn’t re-sign with the Celtics, who are already on the books for $74 million next season if Shaq and Allen don’t opt out of their deals.

(Have a question, concern or conception for tomorrow’s Irish Coffee or a future mailbag? Send an e-mail to brohrbach@weei.com or a Twitter message to @brohrbach.)
Read More: Boston Celtics, Clifford Ray, Doc Rivers, Kendrick Perkins
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