Archive for February, 2011

Irish Coffee: Kobe Bryant’s Ray Allen praise wasn’t easy

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …

For the first half of this month, Boston was the hub of the NBA universe, as the Eastern Conference-leading Celtics welcomed four other championship contenders to the TD Garden – the Mavericks, Magic, Lakers and Heat — in a span of nine days. Sports Illustrated writer Ian Thomsen followed the C’s every step of the way for a cover story in the magazine’s issue that hits stores this week.

From each game, Thomsen uncovered some pretty juicy anecdotes. Here are the highlights …

Mavericks 101, Celtics 97

  • Paul Pierce didn’t know Mavericks guard J.J. Barea spent his college days in Boston: “I’m an NBA player, I’m a Celtic! I came from Kansas! What would I be doing watching Northeastern play?”
  • Mavericks center Tyson Chandler idolized Kevin Garnett“What I try to do for my team is what he’s done his entire career. I respect what he’s accomplished, so I’m just trying to mirror that.”
  • Like many players, Barea thinks Garnett isn’t always nice: “He likes to pick on little guys, I think.”

Celtics 91, Magic 80

  • Magic swingman Quentin Richardson joined the anti-Garnett club: “Garnett is a great player, he’ll be a Hall of Famer, and his résumé speaks for itself. But at the same time you may not have a lot of respect for some of the things he’ll do. He picks fights with [the Raptors' 6'3" Jose] Calderon or with Barea. Come on, man, that’s not showing that you’re big or bad. You’re trying to fight point guards.”
  • And Celtics coach Doc Rivers once again came to Garnett’s defense: “This guy should be the model. He is as pure a team player as I’ve ever been around. Does he say things the wrong way at times? Clearly Kevin has used the ’F’ word as a noun, adjective and verb, and it’s mean-spirited if you’re not on his team. With his teammates he talks the same way, but it’s all about help, it’s all about team. The players who don’t like him are usually the players who aren’t winning, and maybe they should be more like him instead of talking about him.”
  • Pierce didn’t enjoy 25-year-old Magic center Dwight Howard‘s imitation of Garnett’s chest-thumping pregame regimen: “I don’t know if they’ve won a game when he’s mocked anybody. I think he’s got to stop it. I saw LeBron [James] go for 51 [in a Feb. 3 win at Orlando] when he mocked him.”
  • When Celtics 26-year-old center Kendrick Perkins baited Howard into a technical foul, that showed maturity on Perkins’ part, according to Rivers: “First time in his life — he fouled Dwight, holds him and holds him, Dwight hits him with an elbow, hits him with another one, and Perk just stands there. At halftime I said to the team, ‘That is toughness. Toughness is somebody hitting you in the freaking face, and you’re looking at him and laughing and walking away. That’s a tough mother.’”
  • Magic coach Stan Van Gundy doesn’t believe his team can contend with the Celtics: “Not even in the same ballpark as these guys. We can be, but we’re not right now.”

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Sasha Vujacic: Celtics ‘trying to act up’

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

You’ll be shocked to hear this, but things got chippy in a Celtics game — again.

Nets forward Kris Humprhies got into a jawing match with Celtics forward Kevin Garnett in the first half, while New Jersey guard Sasha Vujacic and C’s center Kendrick Perkins exchanged words in the second half. On the court, the C’s got the last word in a 94-80 victory. Off the court? Vujacic explained the chippiness.

“I think we started a little bit too soft in the game,” said Vujacic. “They’re a team that plays very well, and they’re trying to act up most of the time, so that’s how they are and how they play. We just can’t back down from that. We’ve got to deliver the first punch and not let them get us on our heels.”

Asked about the Celtics’ trash talk, Nets point guard Devin Harris added, “Nothing surprises me.”

Surprisingly, Vujacic wasn’t overly critical of the Celtics’ style of play; in fact, he credited their experience and ability to play together as a team.

“We played in their home, so everything’s going to be on their side,” added Vujacic. “But let’s face it, they’re one of the teams that are chasing the championship, and they are one of the favorites. They know each other. They know where everybody’s going to be.”

Vujacic and Nets teammate Jordan Farmar both played on another contender to finish last season, as the former was traded from the Lakers to New Jersey for Joe Smith in mid-December and the latter signed with the Nets in the offseason. Told that the Lakers (38-19) lost to the last-place Cavaliers (10-46) on Wednesday night, both guys did a double take.

“Cleveland beat the Lakers?” asked Vujacic. ”You’re kidding, right? I guess miracles do happen.”

Added Farmar, “They’re going to be pissed. That’s three straight.”

Fast Break: Paul Pierce, Celtics take down Nets

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

In a game that was a lot closer than the final score indicated, the Celtics survived a scare from the Nets in their final game before the All-Star break Wednesday, capturing a 94-80 home victory. The win helped the C’s (40-14) keep first place in the Eastern Conference ahead of the Heat (41-15).

Paul Pierce finished with a game-high 31 points, and Kevin Garnett recorded his 17th double-double of the season (14 points, 10 rebounds). Brook Lopez led the Nets (17-40) with 18 points.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

At least they got the win: The Celtics didn’t play well against the Nets by any stretch of the imagination, but they earned home win No. 25 in just their 29th game at the Garden this season. The C’s were 24-17 all of last year at home, and games like they played on Wednesday night usually ended up in the loss column. If you’ll recall, the C’s lost to an even worse Nets team by eight on Feb. 27, 2010.

Paul Pierce started off on the right foot: Before most fans finished their first beer, the Celtics started on an 8-0 run and stretched that lead to 25-10. Through the first 9:50, Pierce played the Nets to a standstill at 10 points apiece — squashing any doubts about his lingering foot problem. He finished with 31 points on 10-of-18 shooting, attacking the basket with no signs of an injury.

Praise be to Gody: In desperate need of contributions from big bodies off the bench, Luke Harangody gave the Celtics just what Doc Rivers ordered. The rookie out of Notre Dame scored eight points in just eight minutes off the bench in the first half. While he didn’t score for the remainder of the night, the gave the C’s 15 productive minutes.

WHAT WENT WRONG

Falling asleep at the wheel: After the start the Celtics enjoyed, there’s just no way it should’ve been a tie game at halftime. But it was, 46-46, thanks to Rivers’ understandable reliance on the bench for 35 combined minutes. The offensive efficiency that the Celtics have demonstrated for much of this season just wasn’t there for a long stretch from late in the first quarter until the break. Rajon Rondo‘s presence almost assures the C’s of leading their opponents (especially the Nets) in assists, but New Jersey won that battle, 19-18. That’s what Rivers often refers to as “hero ball,” and it gets them in trouble against the better teams in the league.

No immediate halftime adjustment: As well as the Celtics played in the opening few minutes of the game, they played equally as bad to start the second half, allowing the Nets to go on an 8-0 run of their own and take a 54-46 lead before many fans had taken their seats again. That translated into more taxing minutes for the C’s as they played from behind well into the third quarter.

Nothing but three Nets: Really, only a few guys gave the Celtics problems on Wednesday night: Lopez as well as guards Devin Harris and Anthony Morrow. The three combined for 48 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists. And Lopez’s ability to score in the post forced Rivers and assistant coach Lawrence Frank to furiously figure out a way to stop him in the third quarter. As a result, New Jersey also won the battle in the paint, 34-28.

Irish Coffee: President Obama wants Bill Russell statue in Boston

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …


(NOTE: Between the 16:30 and 18:30 marks, President Obama speaks about Bill Russell; at the 35-minute mark, Russell receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom)

In a brilliant article in Boston Magazine, WEEI.com’s Paul Flannery stated the case for a statue in Bill Russell‘s honor in the streets of Boston. On Tuesday, President Barack Obama hopped on Flannery’s bandwagon. The following is a transcript of President Obama’s remarks as he awarded Russell the Presidential Medal of Freedom:

When Bill Russell was in junior high, he was cut from his basketball team. He got better after that. He led the University of San Francisco to two championships. In 13 seasons with the Boston Celtics, he won 11 championships — a record unmatched in any sport. Won two while also serving as the team’s coach. And so happens, he also was the first African-American ever to hold such a position as a coach in a major league sports team of any sort. More than any athlete of his era, Bill Russell came to define the word “winner.”

And yet, whenever someone looks up at all 6 feet, 9 inches of Bill Russell — I just did; I always feel small next to him — and asks, “Are you a basketball player?” — surprisingly, he gets this more than you think, this question — he says, “No.” He says, “That’s what I do, that’s not what I am. I’m not a basketball player. I am a man who plays basketball.”

Bill Russell, the man, is someone who stood up for the rights and dignity of all men. He marched with King; he stood by Ali. When a restaurant refused to serve the black Celtics, he refused to play in the scheduled game. He endured insults and vandalism, but he kept on focusing on making the teammates who he loved better players, and made possible the success of so many who would follow. And I hope that one day, in the streets of Boston, children will look up at a statue built not only to Bill Russell the player, but Bill Russell the man.

In honor of Russell receiving the highest civilian award given in the United States, The Boston Globe discussed Russell’s impact on and off the basketball court with Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino as well as Celtics legends Tommy Heinsohn and Bob Cousy, who spanned nine of Russell’s 13 seasons and nine of his 11 title runs:

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Report: Celtics have interest in Troy Murphy and Rip Hamilton

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

We’re still a little more than a week away from the trade deadline of Feb. 24 and things are starting to heat up. Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski writes that if New Jersey’s Troy Murphy and Detroit’s Rip Hamilton are bought out of their contracts, the Celtics would have interest in acquiring them.

Murphy was traded from Indiana to New Jersey in the offseason but didn’t mesh with coach Avery Johnson and requested a trade. Wojnarowski writes that several teams would be interested in Murphy — a big man who can shoot from the outside and rebound — including New Orleans, Miami, Orlando and Miami.

Hamilton has been cast aside in Detroit, racking up DNP-coaches decision for the last few months. The Celtics have had interest in Hamilton before. Neither player addresses the Celtics’ most pressing need, a small forward to back up Paul Pierce, but both would be upgrades to a second unit that has struggled for consistency.

Players who are bought out of their contracts are free to sign with any team. The Celtics are over the cap and could sign them for a the veterans minimum. The issue for the Celtics is that they have 15 players on the roster and someone would have to go to make room for a new acquisition.

Kevin Garnett on Bill Russell

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

Kevin Garnett

Celtics legend Bill Russell was among 15 people awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama on Tuesday, the highest honor the president can bestow on a civilian. Kevin Garnett was asked about Russell and his impact.

“Not only did he transcend on the court, but off the court,” Garnett said. “Being righteous for what he believed in, and speaking up and standing up for that right. Different times back in the day, man. I respect a lot of the OG’s just because they went through in order for us to be here today. Bill Russell is everything and I just want to say congratulations.”

Garnett was then asked why players don’t speak as forcibly as Russell once did. He cited the media culture and also noted that players are more cautious.

“I don’t think people are as opinionated out loud just because of the uproar they can start,” Garnett said. “These days when you bring out issues that cause attention to not only yourself, but your team, it can be labeled a distraction.”

Garnett had one further thought on Russell and what today’s players can take from him, as well as the great players of the past.

“I don’t think we go to the extreme to prove a point or go to the extreme to really remember that this is our league,” Garnett said. “I think those days are over. I think the commissioner has a lot of say on how this league is run. The only way you can sustain a solid league is to carry things over. That’s all going to be up to the players.”

Irish Coffee: Top 5 trick basketball shot videos

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …

It’s an off day before the Celtics’ final game prior to the All-Star break, so what better time to unleash the top-five trick basketball shot videos of all-time. Without further ado …

5. Sick Basketball Shots

 

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