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Impromptu Irish Coffee: The Next Bill Russell?

07.28.11 at 1:58 pm ET

When someone compares a player to Bill Russell, my usual reaction is a rolling of the eyes, followed by an audible sigh and capped by a sarcastic, “And Harold Miner is the next Michael Jordan.” However, when a member of the Celtics‘ front office makes the analogy, that’s an entirely different story.

Celtics senior director of basketball operations Leo Papile — also the Boston Amateur Basketball Club’s director — told Louisville’s Courier-Journal that the current star of his AAU program, Nerlens Noel (great name, by the way), could indeed be the next William Felton Russell:

“No one has ever been compared to Bill Russell, but I said that about this kid when he was in the eighth grade. He has a basketball brain like no other player that I have ever coached. He’€™s a special kid. …

‘€œHe has great timing. Everything he does is just perfect. He passes, his team defense … it’€™s all just perfect. And now he has an offensive game.”

ESPNU’s No. 3 ranked recruit and top-ranked center in the Class of 2013, Noel led Papile’s BABC team to the Peach Jam title earlier this month and the AAU Super Showcase championship game this past week. This winter, the 6-foot-10, 215-pound Everett native enters his junior season at New Hampshire’s Tilton School.

To put Papile’s statement in perspective, he has worked for the Celtics since 1997 and currently serves as one of the team’s chief talent evaluators at the NBA, D-League, international and collegiate levels. Founding the BABC in 1977, he has helped develop NBA talents like Patrick Ewing and Dana Barros.

So, the real question is: Does the 17-year-old Noel even know who is the greatest winner in professional sports? “I watch Bill Russell a lot, anytime they have specials on,” he told The Courier-Journial. “I just like seeing him.”

Seeing him is one thing. Being him is another. Noel only has two NCAA titles and 11 NBA championships to go.


With the news that Celtics unsigned second-round draft pick (No. 55 overall) E’Twaun Moore has inked a one-year, $200,000 deal with Italian club Benetton Treviso, what does it mean for the Celtics?

Not much, really. Considering Moore’s agent Mark Bartlestein insisted upon an opt-out clause that allows Moore to return to the Celtics once the NBA lockout is lifted, the only real risk of the Purdue product playing overseas is that of injury. However, the experience and development Moore could gain from his experience in Italy’s Lega Serie A probably makes that gamble worthwhile — for the C’s.

The projected minimum salary for an NBA rookie in the 2011-12 season is $490,180, so Moore obviously puts that on the line by playing overseas without an NBA deal in place. Since the 6-foot-4, 190-pound guard is no lock to make the 15-man Celtics roster next season, it’s probably worth the risk for him, too.


On Wednesday, we posted a somewhat tongue-in-cheek suggestion that Celtics starting point guard Rajon Rondo‘s dislocated elbow must be feeling better, considering he posted on Twitter a picture of himself lounging in Las Vegas with both elbows fully bent behind his head.

On Thursday, HoopsWorld reported that Rondo will join seven other former University of Kentucky stars in an exhibition game against the Dominican Republican national team — coached by Kentucky’s John Calipari — at the college’s Rupp Arena on August 15 (h/t Celtics Town).

Rondo, John Wall, Tayshaun Prince, DeMarcus Cousins, Jodie Meeks, Nazr Mohammed, Eric Bledsoe and Keith Bogans will form Team Kentucky. Fellow NBA players Al Horford, Charlie Villanueva and Francisco Garcia are among the Team Dominican Republic members (I’m sure Rondo and Villanueva will discuss their mutual admiration of Kevin Garnett).

Obviously, this is just another sign that the dislocated elbow Rondo suffered on May 7 remains on schedule for a healthy return if and when the 2011-12 NBA season begins.

Read More: Bill Russell, Boston Celtics, E'Twaun Moore, Nerlens Noel
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