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Irish Coffee: Larry Bird says Rajon Rondo can’t shoot

03.23.11 at 11:17 am ET

Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

I’m not sure how I missed this — probably because it took place on St. Patrick’s day — but Celtics legend Larry Bird joined The Dan Patrick Show and had this exchange with the host about C’s point guard Rajon Rondo:

  • Dan Patrick: “Who’s the guy you didn’t draft, look back on and go, ‘You know what, I’m surprised by how good he is’?”
  • Larry Bird: “Rondo.”
  • DP: “What was it about Rondo that made you nervous about drafting him?”
  • LB: “His shooting.”
  • DP: “He still can’t shoot.”
  • LB: “No, but he can play.”
  • DP: “Could you teach him to shoot?”
  • LB: “It’d take awhile.”

Rondo ranks 27th in true shooting percentage among NBA point guards who play at least 25 minutes per game. His field-goal percentage (48.0) ranks sixth for players at his position, but as you get further from the rim — where he’s shooting 54.0 percent — he gets awful shaky. Rondo is shooting 33.0 percent from 3-9 feet, 41.0 percent from 10-15 feet, 27.0 percent from 16-23 feet and 27.8 percent from 3-point range, according to

You can’t really blame Bird for claiming Rondo can’t shoot, but you can blame him for selecting Shawne Williams four slots ahead of Rondo at No. 21 in the 2006 NBA draft. Here are a few other highlights from what proved to be a great interview with Bird:

  • On Danny Ainge’s claim that he was the Celtics’ best shooter: “Well, he had a chance to prove it in the 3-point contest, and he didn’t do very well.”
  • On Jimmer Fredette: “Pretty good player, isn’t he? The best in college basketball. He can get the ball in the hole from anywhere. He’s tough, he’s an offensive-minded player and he can score, so that’s a pretty good combination.”
  • On having a green light to shoot: “I had a green light since I was in grade school. In high school, I shot 35 or 36 times. That’s pretty hard to do in a 32-minute game. I must have had a heck of a lot of offensive rebounds.”
  • On leaving college early: “I had a chance to come out early when I was drafted by Boston as a junior and didn’t come out. It’s not like it is today. That night I was drafted by the Celtics, I didn’t know what it meant. It didn’t matter, because I knew I was going to stay in school.”
  • On the art of shooting: “I know the basics and what you have to do to get the ball on a line. I can break it down. I’ve helped a few guys — not a lot. Everybody thinks they can shoot better than they really can, but I can help a lot of players.”
  • On the best shooter he’s ever seen: “A kid I played college ball with could shoot the lights out, but he couldn’t play. I could hardly ever beat him in H-O-R-S-E. A guy named Howie Johnson. He played on Illinois for a year, and then he transferred to Indiana State. This kid didn’t miss. I mean, he was incredible.”
  • On himself: “You know what always amazes me about myself is sometimes I would get out there in practice or just after shooting around, and I would get into a rhythm. I could make 95 out of 100 every time — from wherever. I’m not talking about 3-pointers by any means, but I’m just talking about running around and shooting. You get into a rhythm and you get it going, it’s amazing. I used to amaze myself how many shots I could make in a row.”
  • On the NBA’s greatest shooters:Steve Nash is a great shooter. There’s a lot of them, but I could shoot it pretty well. Ray Allen is a great shooter. Dale Ellis. I was a little nervous about him in the 3-point contest, but when you get 40,000 eyes on you, it’s a little bit different out there.”
  • On free agency: “I could never see myself playing for another team. I enjoyed it in Boston. The fans were supportive. We had good teams. So, really, there was no need to leave.”
  • On All-Star Games: “I never liked All-Star Games, even in high school. It’s a showman’s game. I didn’t feel I was a showman. I thought I was a basketball player. I like to play an all-around game. In the All-Star Game, whatever city we played in, if they had a player on the team, they were going to get the MVP. You knew it.”
  • On Kobe Bryant vs. Michael Jordan: “Kobe has always been one of my favorites. I can’t talk about the ’50s and ’60s and ’70s, but Michael is so good it was incredible. One thing that I’ve always said about Michael, he was always quick, but shutting down passing lanes and defending people he was unbelievable. There are some similarities, but Michael was a great defender. It’s hard to compare them. They’re both great.”
  • On LeBron James: “I think LeBron James is just incredible. I’ve never seen anybody at the small forward position play the game like he’s played it. You can always get better. [He needs] a low-post game. I think he could just destroy people down on the block. He shoots a lot better than he did. I know if I had that quickness, I’d be going to the hole. I wouldn’t have to rely on that jumper all the time.”
  • On physical play: “If you go to the hole back in the ’80s, you were going to get taken out. Now, you can’t put your hands on them. Michael went to the line about 15 times a game, and now he’d probably go 20-22 times a game.”
  • On Jordan’s 63-point night against the Celtics: “I forget who won that game.”
  • On trash-talking with Jordan: “I was in the post and said, ‘What are you doing down here?’ And I scored on him. It wasn’t a minute later that I was out at the top of the key on him, and he had this big smile on his face. It was not a good feeling. You can force him left or right, but nobody was going to get there quick enough, because his head was going to be at the rim. Kevin [McHale] wasn’t going to help.”
  • On Kevin McHale: “Kevin was a great defender. He was pretty awesome down in the post, but he was a black hole. If you threw it to him, you better get on the offensive boards or get back on defense.”

That “You know what always amazes me about myself” line is classic. I might have to start beginning sentences with that phrase at parties.


During his stints in Los Angeles, Miami, Phoenix and Cleveland Celtics center Shaquille O’Neal was sworn in as a member of the local law enforcement. He even helped police track down a suspect involved in a hate crime he witnessed in Miami.

I can’t believe it’s taken this long for him to start crime fighting in New England. According to the Worcester Telegram, O’Neal will be sworn in by Worcester County Sheriff Lewis G. Evangelidis as the first member of the Worcester County Reserve Deputy Sheriff Association — following a visit to the Mercy Center for developmental disabilities.

Sheriff spokesman David Tuttle told the paper, “The sheriff is committed to expanding the role that the WCRDSA plays in local communities and hopes that making Shaq his first member will help set the tone for others to volunteer to give back to their communities.”

Speaking of O’Neal, it’s been a while since somebody brought up his potential return. Oh, wait, no it hasn’t. The New York Daily News did during an interview with The Big Shamrock:

  • Shaq: “I just turned 39. I feel good. But now when I get an injury, it takes bleepin’ forever to heal. … Doc is the first guy who has said to me, ‘I don’t want you to rush back.’ Doc says, ‘Don’t rush. We need you at 100 percent.'”
  • Doc Rivers: “Obviously, one thing he’s going to give us is size and hard fouls. The rest will be how healthy he is and what can he do. But we need that size. Obviously, the clock is ticking.”
  • Shaq: “I wish I was younger. I really do.”


Now that Bruce Pearl has been fired as head coach of the University of Tennessee men’s basketball program in the midst of 10 alleged NCAA rules violations, Celtics assistant coach Lawrence Frank — a former Volunteers assistant — joined the list of potential replacements, according to The Tennesseean.

Frank has proved a worthy heir to Tom Thibodeau‘s assistant coach/defensive guru throne this season, and I’m sure the Celtics would hope he wouldn’t be available to accept a job at UT until at least June — which would give him the opposite of a headstart in recruiting.

Speaking of Thibodeau, I enjoyed this quote about the former Celtics assistant from Bulls point guard Derrick Rose (via the Chicago Tribune):

“I’ve never played for a coach who was that focused. There’s nothing else — no kids, no wife, no leisure time to watch TV. I’m dead serious. There’s nothing else going on.

“I’ve never heard about Thibs being out eating. I never ran into him eating anywhere. No matter what city we’re in, I won’t see him until the next day. I never been around a coach like him.”

Considering Thibodeau’s success as head coach of the Bulls and the fact that the Celtics still rank No. 1 in opponents’ points per game without him, that speaks to the job Frank has done.


In an interview with Chicago native Isiah Thomas on the “Waddle & Silvy Show,” the NBA Hall of Famer discussed the similarities between his Pistons passing the torch to Jordan’s Bulls with the current Celtics and the Rose-led Bulls. I hadn’t heard this before, but here’s what Thomas said about the ’80s Celtics:

“When we beat the Celtics to take the torch from the Celtics, Boston walked off the court [without shaking hands]. … When we passed the torch to the Bulls, we did what Boston did to us. Now, should we have shaken their hands? Yes. Was it poor sportsmanship? Yes. If we had to do it all over again would all of us do it differently? Yes. But the way the torch was passed to us, that’€™s the way we passed the torch to the Bulls. Then, after that, it became a more kinder, gentler NBA, where everybody hugs, shakes hands before the game and all the other stuff that you do. Back then, when you lost people ran off the court.”

Also in the interview, Thomas declined comment on his rumored involvement with the Knicks’ deal from Carmelo Anthony and said “Never say never” to a return to the NBA in a front-office or coaching role. One can only hope.

(Have a question, concern or conception for tomorrow’€™s Irish Coffee or a future mailbag? Send an e-mail or a Twitter message to @brohrbach.)

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