Wake up with the Celtics  and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘¦
Hip-hop lost one of its best when Nate Dogg died at age 41 on Tuesday. In memoriam, I figured I’d share one of the great scenes in basketball movie history — which, of course, featured the Warren G track “Regulate” (feat. Nate Dogg) at the crescendo (and, yes, I just used the word crescendo).
For those of you who might need the back story behind this “Above the Rim” scene, it’s not too complicated …
A former high school basketball star turned janitor named Shep stopped playing when his best friend died after dunking so hard on the top of a roof that he went through the hoop and fell off the top of the building. Just your every day, typical high school stuff.
So, the janitor — clearly the city’s most eligible bachelor — starts dating the mother of the school’s next great superstar, Kyle Lee Watson. The kid gets pissed, but eventually they all make up when Shep dominates a team coached by Tupac in a blacktop tournament while wearing corduroys.
Then, Avon Barksdale from “The Wire” tries to shoot Watson and Shep only to get shot himself. Eventually, Watson wins the Big East championship for Georgetown with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer while Shep and his mom decide to watch the game on TV in a bar rather than see the game in person. Got it? Good.
Nate Dogg had plenty of NBA ties, including one with the Celtics. He appeared on the Lloyd Banks song “Warrior,” also featuring 50 Cent and Eminem. The tune  included the lyric: “‘Cause he remembers when they wouldn’t lend a helping hand ’til he was sitting on green like a Celtics fan.”
Appearing in Chicago as his son Austin was presented  the McDonald’s All-American Morgan Wootten Player of the Year Award as the nation’s top high school basketball player, Celtics head coach Doc Rivers joined the city’s ESPN Radio affiliate  in studio. Former Celtics forward Brian Scalabrine  called into the show, and the two had this exchange …
- Scal: “How much do you really miss me this year? C’mon, really, put it into words.”
- Doc: “People don’t realize, not only do I miss Scal, the whole team does. We tell a Scal story probably once a week. Even now. His name comes up on our bus or somewhere once a week.”
- (The host brought up the fact that Bulls fans now chant “SCAL-A-BRI-NE” at the end of games.)
- Doc: “We started that, so they’re just stealing what we did in Boston already. I think Chicago should get something more originial than that.”
- Scal: “It’s grown to a whole new level here.”
- Doc: “I’ve seen that.”
- Scal: “How’s things going? I know you miss me, Doc.”
- Doc: “I do miss you. I really do. No. 1, this guy — people want to cheer for him — but they really don’t see how much he works. I mean, he works his butt off. The second part is that Scal is going to be a helluva coach, and he’s in the same spot that I was in at the same point in his career. And all he says is, ‘No, I’m gonna do TV, I’m gonna do radio.’ And I just shake my head, ‘Sure, Scal.’ Scalabrine, mark my words, will be an NBA coach and a good one.”
- (The host asks Scal for a juicy Doc tidbit.)
- Scal: “I’ll give you a better one. Let’s talk Austin Rivers. This is a great story, by the way. So, Austin’s in the gym, working out before practice, and he’s going hard, he’s sweating. We’re playing 1-on-1, and he’s going through us. KG [Kevin Garnett ] comes out, shoes untied, and if you guys know KG he’s a huge alpha male. He pushes everyone aside and says, ‘I got you. You ain’t got nothing on me.’ Austin goes hard right, elevates and BOOM! — dunks on KG. This is a true story. The whole gym goes crazy. KG bends over, ties his shoes up and then locks him up.”
Rivers stuck around the studio for a while and answered questions on topics from Derrick Rose ‘s MVP season to the Heat hype to Paul Pierce ‘s Hall of Fame credentials. Here are the highlights …
On Derrick Rose: “Derrick Rose, this year, to me, is the best player in the NBA, and he’ll be the MVP. And when you have the MVP on your team, you’re usually pretty good.”
On Coach of the Year: “I’d put [Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau ] right there. I think [76ers coach] Doug Collins , honestly, with what he’s done — you think about Philly, and they didn’t make a move — and you look at their record, it’s pretty remarkable what he’s done. I’d put those two, and then [Blazers coach] Nate McMillan. Those would be my three.”
On the Kendrick Perkins  trade: “It was very difficult, and my players know that I do get attached to players. They tell you that you shouldn’t do that as a coach, but I do. … It’s very difficult to separate sometimes the basketball part of it and the human part of it. I had to do that, No. 1. And then Perk was an anchor for us, defensively, and [I had] to give up on that to try to get different pieces — which we needed as well. We needed Nenad [Krstic]’s shot. We needed Jeff Green . We haven’t been able to go small when other teams go small. The year we won it, we had James Posey . Since he’s left, we haven’t replaced that, and in the playoffs that’s hurt us.”
On whether Jermaine O’Neal  will return: “That’s what the doctors say (laughs). Shaq will be back hopefully in a week or two, and Jermaine pretty soon as well.”
On Rajon Rondo : “He’s just going through it. Everyone goes through it at times. It’s just not playing well, honestly. He’ll get through it. He’s a great player. It happens through the year with everyone, except for guys who have those MVP years. They tend to go 82 and play well. Kobe [Bryant] has had a stretch where he’s struggled. LeBron [James] has had a stretch. Rondo’s going through his stretch. The problem with us is that when our point guard goes through it, the entire team is taken with him. And that’s what we’re going through.”
On resting the starters: “A lot of teams are younger. Miami and Chicago, I think those guys can play all day. They’re both pretty young basketball teams, but we don’t have that luxury. A great example was when New Jersey went on a run and Kevin [Garnett] was on the bench, I was not going to put him in. I know what his minutes are. I’m going to keep him under 32 minutes, and that’s just the way it is. Our bench, during those times, they have to hold on and try to win the game until [the starters] can get back on the floor. That’s the one thing that I’ve pretty much stayed to; I’m not going to extend our guys’ minutes.”
On the Heat: “I don’t know that they’re missing anything. If you look at their record, it’s a pretty good record. They’re scrutinized more than any other team I’ve ever seen in my life. And they brought it on themselves. They did have a parade. Once you have that, you bring that on yourself. It was a heck of a celebration — pretty impressive, actually. It just takes time, and every group is different.”
On Tom Thibodeau: “I talked to Thibs this afternoon for a long time, and we’re still very close. We want to beat each other’s brains out when we play, but right after that we’re very close friends. I respect the world of him. He’s the hardest working guy that I’ve ever had on my bench.”
On Ray Allen : “We lost [Monday] night, and in the gym [Tuesday] Ray Allen was there. I don’t even have to check. I know he was. He ran two or three miles. He probably took 500 jump shots. He’ll be the first guy in the gym tomorrow. He’ll do it again. It’s amazing watching him work.”
On Paul Pierce: “I think Paul is one of the greatest Celtics, and if you’re one of the greatest Celtics — you’re automatically going to the Hall of Fame. … Of all of our guys– you look at the new Big Three in Miami — if you look at what Paul has done, he’s given up shots, he’s given up touches and he doesn’t care. He’s just trying to win.”
AUSTIN RIVERS: ‘I WANT TO DESTROY’ LEBRON JAMES 
In an interview  with The Sporting News, Doc’s son Austin Rivers — the first Florida recipient of either the Naismith High School Player of the Year or Wootten Award — didn’t hold back. Here’s his refreshing take on NBA guys:
“Well, I’ve met Michael Jordan , Kobe Bryant , LeBron James, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen — you name it. A lot of people ask me who I’ve met through my dad, and they’re in awe when they hear the names of the players, but I’ve never looked at it like that. It’s cool meeting all of them, but I really want to be in their situation one day. I don’t want to just meet LeBron, I want to destroy him on the court one day.”