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An NBA Turkey Day Special 11.25.10 at 8:00 am ET
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On this Thanksgiving Day special, we give you the top five NBA players ever to hail from Turkey. Get it? Turkey? Thanksgiving? Turkish players have had a long and storied history in the league, only the exact opposite. It may be a reach, but it’s also pretty awesome when you think about it. You get to say names like Ersan Ilyasova. Without further ado …

5. Chicago Bulls 7-foot rookie center Omer Asik (O-mair A-sheek): Averaging 3.3 points and 0.8 points per game in 12 career appearances.

4. Boston Celtics 7-foot rookie center Semih Erden (Seh-MEE EHRD-ehn): Averaging 3.4 points and 2.3 rebounds in 11 career appearances.

3. Milwaukee Bucks 6-foot-10 third-year forward Ersan Ilyasova (ER-sahn Ill-ee-uh-SOH-vuh): Averaging 8.3 points and 4.8 rebounds per game in 160 career appearances.

2. Utah Jazz 6-foot-11 nine-year veteran center Mehmet Okur (MEM-et Oh-KUHR): Averaging 13.9 points and 7.2 rebounds in 604 career appearances.

1. Phoenix Suns 6-foot-10 11-year veteran forward Hedo Turkoglu (HEE-doe TURK-uh-loo): Averaging 12.2 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game in 766 career appearances.

 

The fist pump at the end of the Mehmet Okur commerical is amazing. Quick programming note: Irish Coffee will return on Monday morning. In the meantime, don’t forget to consume a few actual irish coffees over the Thanksgiving holiday break. Good times.

Read More: NBA, Semih Erden, Thanksgiving, Turkey
Irish Coffee: Is Kobe Bryant a winner or whiner? 11.24.10 at 11:19 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

All Kobe Bryant has ever cared about is team-building, winning and  championships.

Wait, what?

In an interview with Yahoo! Sports columnist Adrian Wojarowski, Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant waxes poetically about his drive for success and what he learned from two of the greatest basketball minds ever: Bill Russell and … Michael Jackson?

After reading the story, dry heaving several times and doing a little research, I want to make one thing clear: When he has good teammates and is winning, all Kobe Bryant has ever cared about is team-building, winning and  championships.

Let’s take a look at a few of Bryant’s quotes from Wojnarowski’s piece …

“It sounds weird, I guess, but it’€™s true: I was really mentored by the preparation of Michael Jackson. … That’€™s the mentality that I have — it’€™s not an athletic one. It’€™s not from Michael Jordan. It’€™s not from other athletes. It’€™s from Michael Jackson.”

One question from that nugget: Is Kobe the first young mind ever to be proud of being “mentored” by Michael Jackson? Too soon?

“Guys have voices now, want to build brands,” Bryant said. “I don’t identify with it, but I understand where it’€™s going, why it’s going there. That’s not for me.”

On the same day the interview was published, a story that Nike-sponsored Kobe is going to wear special “Grinch” style green shoes against the Miami Heat on Christmas day. But, you know, Bryant would never want to build a brand or anything.

“I focus on one thing and one thing only — that’s trying to win as many championships as I can.”

Let’s not forget Bryant’s thirst for winning from 2004-07, during which time he wanted to be traded, shot roughly 15,000 shots per game and won 34, 45 and 42 games. Kobe has never won more than 45 games without Shaquille O’Neal or Pau Gasol, who have been the most dominant centers in the league during their respective tenures alongside Bryant.

Meanwhile, Paul Pierce‘s 2001-02 Boston Celtics won 49 games with Tony Battie at center, Kevin Garnett‘s 2003-04 Minnesota Timberwolves won 58 games with a Ervin Johnson/Michael Olowakandi combination at center, and Ray Allen’s 2004-05 Seattle SuperSonics won 52 games with Jerome James at center.

Now, I’m in no way arguing that any of those three guys are better than Kobe. Bryant is one of the top five guards ever to play the game. But this notion that he has always been “all about winning” is absurd. He’s only all about winning when he’s winning.

Speaking of the C’s, here’s what Bryant had to say about the Celtics-Lakers rivalry …

“Now that’€™s a war. Boston is a great city to go to, all the history. If you’re an opponent, they hate your [expletive] guts — like New York, like Chicago, all those Eastern cities. That’€™s the one that gets me excited. If you’€™re a basketball purist, that’€™s the [expletive] you want to see.”

Well, at least Kobe’s right about one thing.

A CELTICS THANKSGIVING FEAST

Well, Thanksgiving is almost upon us, so the obligatory Turkey Day sports stories are popping up all over the place. ESPN.com caught up with a bunch of Boston athletes to ask them what they like most about Thanksgiving? Here are the answers from Celtics players …

  • Shaquille O’Neal: “Lucille’s [his mom’s] fried chicken and macaroni and cheese. My favorite part of Thanksgiving is eating!”
  • Glen Davis: “Macaroni and cheese, but I most look forward to cutting the turkey. I’m the one who carves the turkey, and I think I do a good job.”
  • Nate Robinson: “My favorite Thanksgiving food is turkey, ham ‘€¦ you’ve got to do both. Turkey, ham, dressing with maple corn bread is real good, what else? Yams and macaroni and cheese. I like having all my family being together and having a good time, and then there is always football on that day. We all watch football.”
  • Kendrick Perkins: “I love, love, love turkey, baked turkey actually. I love the football games that are on, being able to play cards and games and stuff like that with the family at the house. I think Thanksgiving to me is one of the most underrated holidays. Everybody looks forward to Christmas, but I think Thanksgiving is more like where you wake up to the food, just the smell of the house and stuff like that is all just warming and stuff, so that’s what I look forward to.”

Honestly, my family has never had mac and cheese for Thanksgiving, but it sounds amazing. Then again, maybe I’d just end up weighing as much as Shaq and Big Baby. In my 6-foot-1 frame, that wouldn’t be pretty.

IS JERMAINE O’NEAL OVERPAID?

On average, NBA teams pay roughly $1.7 million per victory. Based on who got paid the most to produce the least amount of wins, Forbes Magazine determined the most overpaid players of the 2009-10 season. No. 2 on the list? Jermaine O’Neal.

That shouldn’t worry Celtics fans too much, as he was making $23 million when he statistically produced a whopping 3.1 wins last season. His true value, according to Forbest, was $5.3 million, and the C’s signed him to a $5.7 million deal in the offseason.

Still, it’s looking as though he could actually be worse than 2009-10, when he averaged 13.5 points and seven rebounds in 28 minutes per game.

By the way, the Orlando Magic’s Rashard Lewis was the most overpaid player in the league last year, collecting $18.9 million for 14.1 points and 1.5 assists in 32.9 minutes per game. This year, Lewis is worse, averaging just 11.6 points and 1.2 assists in 31.8 minutes per.

CELTICS PLAYING THE SIMS GAME?

According to NBA Fan House, The Celtics’ NBA Development League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws, signed former University of Michigan forward DeShawn Sims to replace the injured Stephane Lasme.

Sims played for the C’s in the Orlando Pro Summer League over the summer and will join Celtics training camp invitees Jamar Smith, Mario West and Tiny Gallon on the Red Claws’ roster. The 6-foot-8, 235-pound Sims averaged 16.8 points and 7.6 rebounds per game for the Wolverines as a senior, earning Second Team All-Big Ten honors. …

Well, that’s it for today, folks. Have a Happy Thanksgiving and try to catch a high school football game. Go Barnstable Red Raiders. Beat Falmouth.

(Have a question, concern or conception for tomorrow’€™s Irish Coffee? Send a message to @brohrbach on Twitter.)

Read More: Boston Celtics, Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers, NBA
Irish Coffee: It’s matter over mind for Celtics 11.23.10 at 11:47 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

When these veteran Boston Celtics are resting their aching bodies and losing back-to-back games to the Detroit Pistons and Philadelphia 76ers in April, remember this four-game stretch in November.

Pundits enjoy saying things like, “Games in November don’t matter much in the NBA,” but these Celtics are more mentally prepared only when the games matter — if that makes sense. And come playoff time, as we all know, every game means something.

Exhibit A: Last Wednesday’s 31-point blowout of the Washington Wizards. If the Celtics suffer letdowns against meaningless teams, why would they care about a Wizards team without John Wall, its newest star?

Because it mattered to Kevin Garnett, who was undressed last April to the tune of 31 points and 11 boards by Washington’s Andray Blatche.

“This is a team that gave us problems last year, and we haven’t forgotten that. I haven’t,” Garnett told reporters after the win. “Paul [Pierce] and I got here and could hear [Wizards assistant coach] Sam Cassell voice about how young they were and how they were going to come at us. We made note of it. We talked about it, you know, before the game and coming out here, taking care of business. I thought we stayed with that for 48 minutes.”

Exhibit B: Kevin Durant and Jeff Green‘s Oklahoma City Thunder came to town, only Durant and Green didn’t suit up. The Celtics had already quieted the Thunder with those guys in uniform, in their house, two weeks before. They’d already proven themselves against OKC. No urgency to do it again.

“I think we underestimated that team,” Shaquille O’Neal told the media following the loss. “Shot ourselves in the foot. It’s kind of hard in this league to get up for certain people. Tonight, we disrespected the basketball gods. We paid for it.”

Exhibit C: On a lazy Sunday afternoon, the Celtics faced a Toronto Raptors club that was worse than usual, playing undermanned after a trade. The C’s thought a hard-fought first quarter and a solid six-minte stretch in the second half would be just enough effort to take care of Toronto. Think again.

Before the game, I tweeted, “Do you think a Celtics lineup of Delonte West, Nate Robinson, Marquis Daniels, Glen Davis and Semih Erden could give the Raptors a game? I kinda do.”

I figured the home loss to OKC and a day off in between would fuel the Celtics to a blowout in Toronto.  I thought this team had learned something from playing to the level of their opponents last season, but perhaps what they learned is that they can play that way — and still be successful.

The guys over at Gino’s Jungle tweeted back, “I thought a lineup of KG, Pierce, Ray Allen, Shaq and Rajon Rondo could beat a Durant and Green-less OKC, so no game’s a gimme with this team.” And they were right.

“We’re a better team than those two teams,” Pierce told reporters after the defeat. “I know we are. Just mentally, I don’t think we have the right mindset coming into these games.”

Exhibit D: Monday night in Atlanta, the game once again had meaning to the Celtics, who got swept by the Hawks last season. That led to a 99-76 dominating victory against the Hawks in Atlanta.

In the aftermath, one thing became clear: These Celtics will play hard when they want to play hard, regardless of how good of a motivational speech head coach Doc Rivers delivers before the game.

“I gave that up my first year coaching,” Rivers said postgame. “This group, that’s who they are. We’re going to have those poor nights. But I just thought the loss Sunday set the tone for us. You could feel it.”

The examples should have been evident right from the start, when the Celtics dominated the Miami Heat in Game 1 and then lost to a woeful Cleveland Cavaliers team in Game 2.

Remember all of this evidence when people are questioning how much the aged Celtics have left in the tank entering the NBA playoffs. When these C’s have something to play for, they are great — capable of wiping the floor with mere good teams like the Atlanta Hawks.

REACTIONS FROM ATLANTA

Yup, when these Celtics play hard, they can make any team question itself. And that’s exactly what the Hawks were doing on Monday night. Head coach Larry Drew thinks his team might have had a few too many Four Lokos the night before, and Mo Evans is asking, “Who am I?” like a heartbroken girl from a teenage drama.

  • “I told the guys I don’t know what you are doing the night before we play,” Drew told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I don’t know what you are doing away from the floor. Something is going on that is not allowing us to play with an energy and passion that we should be playing with. As a head coach, I’ve got to find out what it is.”
  • “The Celtics know who they are,” Evans added. “We don’t have an identity, unless it’s when things go bad we go the other way. Maybe that’s our identity and we don’t know it.”

The AJC also caught up with Shaquille O’Neal, who said he picked the Celtics over the Hawks because Boston gave him a better shot at a title. And it sounds like the Hawks agree with him.

“They have a blend of veteran players with the core of their team, and it’s a lot easier to fit in a vet like Shaq,” Drew added. “If we brought him in here, it would be a little tougher. I don’t think his personality would have fit with our guys. It makes more sense to have veteran guys around him.”

DELONTE WEST DISHES ON HIS DISORDER

CBS Sports.com senior writer Ken Berger wrote a fantastic piece on Delonte West’s battle with bipolar disorder.

However irresponsible West’s actions were when he was arrested on multiple weapons charges a year ago, it’s impossible not to root for a guy who is working as hard as he is to overcome his issues.

Here are a few highlights:

  • “Bipolar is like, when things are bad to you, they seem worse and when things are good, they seem great,” West said. “I’m at a place where things are behind me and I’m focused on what I love to do.”
  • “When you’re thinking about, ‘Am I going to go to jail after the season?’ and going through a tough divorce during the season, those things can weigh on you sometimes,” West said. “When you’re a professional athlete, you’ve got to be a robot sometimes. You’ve got to check your emotions at the door. But we’re humans. You can’t say, ‘OK, I’m not going to think about this,’ when it’s something to really think about. … When things are up in the air and all people can say to you, the courts and the lawyers, is, ‘You’ve got to wait and see,’ there’s a lot of nights when you’re not sleeping.”
  • “There’s only one way it’s going to play out,” West said. “I want it to play out that way and it’s going to play out that way. And that’s holding the trophy at the end of June. Man, that’d be a strong chapter in the book or the movie I’m going to write one day.”

I love that last quote. It comes from a man who is taking hold of his own destiny.

West also sat down with Chris Tomasson at NBA FanHouse to discuss being a role model, Gloria James and the Von Wafer fight.

“You’ve got to remember, this is just a game,” West told Tomasson. “Some people are die-hard fans and they paint their face and it’s all great. But you got to do unto others as you have unto yourself. People say something about your mother and drag your mother through something like that and your family, you’d be ready to do something yourself. So it’s sad that happened. But, you know, they hated Jesus, too. You got to keep going. So I wish [LeBron James] much success down there [in Miami] with his family, and I got to keep going here.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Delonte West, NBA
Irish Coffee: Are referees screwing the Celtics? 11.22.10 at 12:32 pm ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

In remembrance of the 47th anniversary of John F. Kennedy‘s assassination — and in the wake of the two worst officiated games of the Celtics season — we’ll examine an NBA conspiracy theory: Are the C’s getting screwed by the referees?

“You answer that,” Celtics head coach Doc Rivers told MSNBC.com. “I need my money, I have four kids. I’ll let you answer that. I didn’t see anything.”

Now, let’s get one thing straight: The Celtics deserved to lose to the Kevin Durant-less Oklahoma City Thunder and Toronto Raptors. They coasted through both games like Rasheed Wallace sleepwalked through the entire 2009-10 regular season and should’ve won each game by double digits.

Still, after two absolutely terrible calls in the final seconds against the Raptors — the Ray Allen “forced” turnover and the Paul Pierce “blocking” foul — it’s worth taking a look at how the Celtics are being treated by the referees (Tommy Heinsohn, of course, might say “like a rented mule”).

Statistically speaking, the Celtics have been called for more personal fouls (292) than their opponents (278) in addition to attempting fewer free throws (295) than their opposition (335).

Given that the Celtics have led 11 of their 13 games in the final two minutes, when teams are purposely fouling in an attempt to make a comeback — you’d think that both those numbers would be flipped around in the C’s favor. At the very least, they should be much closer to an even split.

However, the C’s have only attempted more free throws than their opponent four times in 13 games. On two of those occasions — against the Milwaukee Bucks and Memphis Grizzlies — the opposition intentionally put the Celtics at the free throw line 10 times apiece at the end of regulation and overtime.

While other teams have shot five or more free throw attempts than the Celtics on five occasions, the C’s have only outshot an opponent at the free throw line once — an OT victory against the Bulls at home. For future reference, Tom Washington headed the officiating crew for that game.

Want to hear something really spooky? The Celtics’ lowest free throw total and one of their biggest free throw discrepancies of the season — a 20-7 margin in favor of Dallas during a two-point Mavericks win — one of the referees was … wait for it, wait for it … a Kennedy.

It was Bill Kennedy to be exact. Yup, the same Bill Kennedy who has had a long, tumultuous history with Celtics head coach Doc Rivers.

Is it just Kennedy who has a score to settle with Rivers, or are there other officials on the grassy knoll contributing as well?

WORST LOSS EVER

The back-to-back losses to the Durant and Jeff Green-less Thunder and Raptors could possibly be the worst two-game stretch since Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett arrived.

In 2007-08, the Celtics only lost consecutive games three times, including just one three-game losing streak. None of those stretches came in the first three months of the season.

The following year, during an injury-plagued 2008-09 season, the C’s only lost consecutive games four times (none before Christmas), which included a four-game losing streak in January.

Last season, in total, the Celtics lost back-to-back games 10 times (including four three-game losing streaks) — the first of which came in mid-November.

Their worst performance last season came in back-to-back losses to the Clippers (29-53) and Warriors (26-56). While that was pretty awful, it came on back-to-back nights during a four-game road trip that started on Christmas and took them through Florida, California and Arizona.

The bench was supposed to infuse this year’s team with enough energy to help them avoid losing streaks like they suffered last season. In their past two losses, however, the Celtics bench has been outscored by undermanned opponents, as a result of the Thunder’s Durant/Green injuries and the Raptors’ Jarrett Jack trade.

Could it be a 2009-10 regular season all over again? I thought this Celtics team would be hungrier after its loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in the finals.

SANS RONDO

So far this season, the Celtics are 0-2 in games they finish without a healthy Rajon Rondo. However, for fans looking for a glimmer of hope should Rondo not play against the Atlanta Hawks on Monday night, the C’s actually possess a winning record (5-4) since 2007-08 without Rondo in the starting lineup.

Here’s a look at the games he’s missed since taking over the starting point guard position (and how the backup did in his place) …

2007-08
Dec. 30: Celtics 110, Lakers 91 (Tony Allen: 16 points, 4 assists, 4 turnovers, 3 rebounds, 1 steal)
Jan. 12: Wizards 85, Celtics 78 (Allen: 8 points, 0 assists, 4 turnovers, 6 rebounds, 4 steals)
Jan. 16: Celtics 100, Blazers 90 (Eddie House: 10 points, 5 assists, 2 turnovers, 4 rebounds, 1 steal)
Jan. 18: Celtics 116, 76ers 89 (House: 15 points, 4 assists, 2 turnovers, 4 rebounds, 1 steal)
April 16: Celtics 105, Nets 94 (Sam Cassell: 9 points, 4 assists, 0 turnovers, 0 rebounds, 0 steals)

2008-09
March 8: Magic 86, Celtics 79 (Stephon Marbury: 4 points, 0 assists, 3 turnovers, 1 rebound, 0 steals)
March 11: Heat 107, Celtics 99 (Marbury: 0 points, 4 assists, 2 turnovers, 0 rebounds, 2 steals)

2009-10
Jan. 2: Celtics 103, Raptors 96 (Allen: 14 points, 7 assists, 3 turnovers, 5 rebounds, 1 steal)

2010-11
Nov. 21: Raptors 102, Celtics 101 (Nate Robinson: 22 points, 2 assists, 1 turnover, 4 rebounds, 0 steals)

Robinson is the best scoring option off the bench in Rondo’s stead, but what the Celtics really need is a guy to continue running the offense as a distributor (Delonte West?). In three of the C’s four losses without Rondo in the lineup, his replacement failed to dish out more than two assists.

(Have a question, concern or conception for tomorrow’€™s Irish Coffee? Send a message to @brohrbach on Twitter.)

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, John F. Kennedy, NBA
Irish Coffee: Top 5 Celtics fan dances 11.19.10 at 10:46 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

It’s Irish Coffee’s version of a free-form Friday. One of my guilty pleasures in the Garden is watching the Jumbotron shenanigans during timeouts. So, just for fun, let’s take a look at the top five dances caught on tape at Celtics games …

1. The world-famous Bon Jovi dance.

2. A 7-year-old teaches Soulja Boy how to move.

3. A storm trooper dominates the disco (at the 1:10 mark).

4. A redhead breaks out the big guns.

5. Mr. Roboto dances to “Beat It” and kills it.

LASME COMES UP LAME

So much for the “call up Stephane Lasme and cut Von Wafer” discussion. The one-time UMass standout and final roster cut of the Celtics reportedly suffered a stress fracture in his left foot and underwent surgery.

Now, if the C’s opt for further depth in the post, they’ll have to turn to Magnum Rolle or Tiny Gallon on the Maine Red Claws.

CAST YOUR ALL-STAR BALLOT

The NBA released the 2011 All-Star Game ballot, and all five Celtics starters made the cut. That’s not nearly as ridiculous as some of the names listed. Here are the worst of the bunch:

  • Mario Chalmers: He’s tearing up the league to the tune of 1.1 points and 1.4 assists per game.
  • Carlos Boozer: He’s only been injured all year, but maybe he got nominated as the best-dressed player in the league?
  • Linas Kleiza: I forgot he was even in the league (if you consider the Raptors part of the league).
  • Corey Brewer: Well, he is the fifth-leading scorer on a 4-9 Timberwolves team.
  • Derek Fisher: In the discussion of great point guards out West, he’s right up there with Chris Paul and Deron Williams. Oh, wait, no he’s not.

ARENAS HEAPS PRAISE ON RONDO

Count Gilbert Arenas among the many NBA players whose attention Rajon Rondo has grabbed this season. He raved about Rondo after Wednesday night’s 31-point loss to the Celtics …

“As a point guard, uh, former point guard watching what he’s done with his talent, it’s amazing,” Arenas told the Washington Post. “With players like Rondo, Steve Nash, point guards that have the ball so much, you have the ball so much that you’re going to have assists. Just run around finding players. He’s great at it. It’s amazing what people were saying when the Big Three first got here, and now he’s just come into his own.”

MORE FRIDAY VIDEO ENTERTAINMENT

After watching five videos of people dancing at Celtics games, if you feel like wasting more time at work on this Friday morning, here are two more videos: 1) Justin Bieber gets booed in Boston for saying he’s a Lakers fan, and 2) Chris Bosh says “[Erik Spoelstra wants to work; we want to chill.” Good times.

(Have a question, concern or conception for tomorrow’€™s Irish Coffee? Send a message to @brohrbach on Twitter.)

Read More: Boston Celtics, Chris Bosh, Justin Bieber, NBA
Hilarious ‘Fan up, Miami’ promo 11.18.10 at 3:50 pm ET
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Here’s the “Fan up, Miami” promo that the Big Show guys were talking about on WEEI this afternoon. I like how they found a ton of people who look like they’ve never watched a basketball game in their life to plead for fans to come to the games and root, root, root for the home team. “Are you showing up on time?” “Are you too cool to cheer?” This is the NBA, people. Not the local recreation league …

Read More: fan up, Miami Heat, NBA,
Irish Coffee: Delonte West discusses Kevin Durant 11.18.10 at 11:23 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

One day, Delonte West is the talk of the town, returning to a Celtics uniform three years after being traded and 10 additional games after being suspended. The next day? He’s just another member of a championship contender.

And that’s the way he likes it.

“Now you guys can go back to bothering them and leaving me alone,” West told reporters after Wednesday night’s 114-83 victory over the Washington Wizards.

Now, he’s left to do his thing, which Wednesday night was knocking down 5-of-7 shots for 12 points to go along with five rebounds, four assists, one steal and a block — a little bit of everything.

“Once I left here, in my journey in the league, I’ve matured as a player,” added West. “I’ve come into my own a little bit. I’m just really scratching my potential, as far as playmaking. Right now, I’m embracing my role as a bench player. I don’t want to say Sixth Man. You have a team like this, the whole bench is the Sixth Man.

“I know what I can do. I know I can play at a high level, so it helps the team when I can come off the bench and bring that high level of play out there.”

With his Celtics debut behind him, West can answer the day-to-day questions, like what he thinks of Kevin Durant, his former teammate on the Seattle SuperSonics.

“Y’all seen him,” West told WEEI.com. “I watched him grow up in D.C. He by far scores the easiest [in the NBA]. You watched him in college. I watched him on the playgrounds in D.C. On the outside, he could shoot the ball from anywhere. He’s so smooth with it.

“We’re from the same area. We keep track of each other. I got a chance to play with him a little bit in Seattle, give him some pointers and root him on. The sky’s the limit for the guy.”

West and Durant both grew up in Maryland, outside of Washington D.C. On Friday night, they’ll be reunited when the Celtics host Durant’s Oklahoma City Thunder. And West knows from experience — defending Durant is no easy task.

“You’ve got to give him a little bit of everything [defensively],” said West. “Put a hand in his face and hope he misses. Guys like that, there’s really no defense for him. He’s either going to make it or he’s going to miss. That’s the kind of player he is. Once he steps across half-court, he’s dangerous.”

As West proved on Wednesday night, he can be dangerous on the court, too.

THE OBLIGATORY SHAQ UPDATE

A 2010-11 Celtics victory just wouldn’t be the same without a postgame interview with Shaquille O’Neal. Heres’ a few highlights:

  • On Delonte West: “He’s a great player. He played well. I had the opportunity to play with him last year. Great player and a great guy. He can be a sparkplug sometimes. You guys think he’s crazy, but he’s not. Not at all. I can handle him. We always have conversations about the game. He’s very smart. He’s just misunderstood sometimes.” (Mike Petraglia has more.)
  • On the C’s interior dominance: “I’m going to have the advantage on every center that we play. … It’s paying off very nicely. Once we get Jermaine [O’Neal]and Kendrick [Perkins] back, it’s going to be really, really nice – really, really difficult for teams to match up.”
  • On his chemistry with Rondo: “Rondo’s a great passer. He gets me the ball. I do what I’ve been doing for 18 years. … It’s not really something you need to work on with him. He’s just a great player. He reads the court very well. … Two great players just working together. He passes it to me, and I put it in the basket.”
  • On Rondo’s alley-oop to Kevin Garnett: “[Garnett] understands how the defense is playing, and he actually orchestrated that play. He said, ‘This dude’s overplaying me; this dude’s disrespecting me.’ He’s great like that.”
  • On what he told Semih Erden: “I told him to be mean out there, be aggressive. Semih’s a nice guy. … I told him to go out and play and dominate.”

REACTIONS FROM D.C.

As you can imagine, Wednesday night’s 31-point blowout by the Celtics against the John Wall-less Wizards didn’t sit well with anybody on Washington’s side …

  • Head coach Flip Saunders (courtesy of the Washington Post): “It was like men playing against boys. I told our guys, they just reached right into our chest and tore our heart out, and just took away our will.”
  • Gilbert Arenas: “This is one of them games, where you’re on the playground and you beat somebody up – and the real bully comes and beats you up. They are built for a championship. We’re rebuilding. Until we feel we’re on that level, we have a long way to go. The two championship-caliber teams that we’ve played, we got blown out.”
  • Nick Young: “They’re an all-star team. … Obviously, they know how to win.”

WHITE HOUSE HONORS BILL RUSSELL

The White House announced that Bill Russell is one of 15 people who will receive the 2010 Presidential Medal of Freedom, “the nation’s highest civilian honor.”

“Bill Russell is the former Boston Celtics‘ captain who almost single-handedly redefined the game of basketball. Russell led the Celtics to a virtually unparalleled string of 11 championships in 13 years and was named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player five times. The first African American to coach in the NBA — indeed he was the first to coach a major sport at the professional level in the United States — Russell is also an impassioned advocate of human rights. He marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and has been a consistent advocate of equality.”

Russell will be the first former NBA player to receive the honor, and based on his contributions to civil rights alone — regardless of the fact that he’s the greatest winner in the history of sports — there’s no question he deserves it. The only question is, right now, could Russell still beat President Obama 1-on-1? I say definitely.

MORE RONDO FOR MVP DISCUSSION

The Sporting News is the latest publication to consider Rondo a contender for the 2010-11 NBA MVP honor. The most interesting tidbit to come from their take is the fact that Garnett believes Rondo can keep up his current rate of 14.9 assists per game — which would eclipse John Stockton‘s NBA record of 14.5 set in 1989-90.

“Why not?” Garnett said. “Who says that he can’t? Let’s see. It’s all about the flow. It’s all about guys hitting shots. He’s in a real good groove. He knows when to attack. He’s picking and choosing when to do certain things. He’s mixing it up really well. He’s keeping defenses off balance. Who says he can’t?”

Well, if the Celtics keep shooting 65 percent from the floor as they did Wednesday night against the Wizards, there’s no reason he can’t.

(Have a question, concern or conception for tomorrow’€™s Irish Coffee? Send a message to @brohrbach on Twitter.)

Read More: Bill Russell, Boston Celtics, Delonte West, Kevin Durant
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