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Celtics: Irish Coffee 09.30.10 at 9:00 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

It’s becoming fairly clear that Nate Robinson enjoys pranking his teammates, especially Shaquille O’Neal. This time, he’s seen with Paul Pierce, pouring a ton of salt into a glass of water before handing it to an unsuspecting Shaq. The Big Shamrock’s reaction is priceless. It’s stuff like this that builds camaraderie, and I’m all for it.

NBA rule changes?

The NBA is trying out a number of potential rule changes in the NBA Development League–with an eye towards adding them at the top level in the near future.

The biggest change? Potentially allowing defenders to knock a ball away while its on the rim, a huge change from the current goaltending rule, which forbids players from touching the ball while its in the cylinder. Just for the record, this is a terrible idea. I mean, I even dominated when we lowered the rim in our backyard and allowed goaltending. Can you imagine how good Bill Russell would’ve been?

The other potential rule change? Three-minute overtimes, as opposed to the current five-minute system. Another awful idea. I have trouble doing anything in three minutes, let alone playing the most important part of a basketball game. Is there anyone out there thinking, “You know what, I’d watch this overtime if it were three minutes. Five minutes? That’s much too long for me.”

Salary cap issues hit hard

Wizards and Capitals owner Ted Leonsis was fined $100,000 by the NBA for saying that he expects the league to adopt a hard salary cap, much like the one currently in place in the NHL.

“In a salary cap era–and soon a hard salary cap in the NBA like it’s in the NHL–if everyone can pay the same amount to the same amount of players, its the small nuanced differences that matter,” Leonsis told a crowd of local business owners at George Mason University.

If the currently salary cap of $56 million were a hard cap, and teams could not exceed that limit under a number of nuanced exceptions, the Celtics would have to cut almost $23 million in salary. Essentially, they’d only be able to pay their starting five. In case you haven’t figured it out, this would be bad news for the C’s.

LeBron James: Big Baby

Ran across this picture yesterday and found it pretty funny. Nice job by this kid …

NBA Jam redux

Failed marketing and harsh criticism have led EA Sports to postpone the release of the new version of the 1993 2-on-2 NBA Jam video game, NBA Elite 11, indefinitely. The move could cost the company as much as $60 million. That’s more than the current NBA salary cap, for the math-challenged out there.

In case you missed it, EA Sports released the rosters for the game, and the Celtics are one of only nine teams that include four current players–Pierce,Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen–plus two legends (Larry Bird and Kevin McHale). ESPN.com’s Marc Stein surmised that you may be able to unlock Shaq as a hidden player. In the original ’93 version, if you’ll recall, the C’s roster featured Reggie Lewis and McHale.

Let me ask you this: How does EA Sports screw up a 2-on-2 basketball game? The original version was probably the greatest video basketball game ever (other than maybe Double Dribble), so why not just update the graphics and players, and move on. That would be too simple.

Read More: LeBron James, Nate Robinson, Shaquille O'Neal, Ted Leonsis
NBA Power Rankings, 9/30 09.29.10 at 9:54 pm ET
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1. LA Lakers: They’re the two-time defending NBA champions. That should be enough. In addition to picking up one of those agitators Red Auerbach always used to talk about (Matt Barnes), they also addressed a need by adding backup point guard Steve Blake. Barring a losing streak of some sort, they’ll likely sit tight in this spot until either Miami (on Christmas) or Boston (on Jan. 30) unseats them.

2. Boston: I know what you’re thinking: The Celtics are the returning Eastern Conference champions, and they added “the O’Neal brothers,” so why aren’t they No. 1? Age. If healthy, the C’s can absolutely win the title, but that’s a big “if.” Let’s not forget how Boston played during the regular season last year. If anything, this team is an even more veteran squad than the one that coasted in 2009-10.

3. Miami: The Heat ranked 16th on this list at the end of last regular season, and they added two guys by the name of LeBron James and Chris Bosh. I know I’ve heard those names somewhere. The biggest question facing this team is, obviously, depth, which Udonis Haslem, Mario Chalmers and Mike Miller should provide. There’s a very good chance this team could rank No. 1 on this list by season’s end.

4. Oklahoma City: Coming off a stellar performance in the FIBA World Championships, Kevin Durant is poised for a MONSTER season. And this comes after averaging 30.1 points and 7.6 rebounds per game last year. He’s my pick for MVP. With a tremendous young core that includes Russell Westbrook, Jeff Green and James Harden around Durant, this team should be game for every opponent.

5. Chicago: The Bulls were dangerous two years ago, and that was before adding Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer this offseason. With Derrick Rose running the point, and one of the best post tandems in the league-Boozer and Joakim Noah–this group can compete with anybody. New head coach Tom Thibodeau will make sure that they will compete with everybody.

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Celtics: Irish Coffee 09.29.10 at 8:58 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

You’d think everything was painted green in Tommy Heinsohn‘s world, but truth be told the Celtics legend does more than just color for his former team. He’s a talented artist, as detailed in this NECN piece.

Tommy recently entered some of his work into an art show that benefited a charity in honor of his late wife, the Helen J. Weiss Scholarship fund for art education amoung children.

“I do something in art every day,” he told NECN. “If it’s only for five minutes.” It’s his relaxation, he joked, from all those terrible referees in the NBA. There’s not enough Tommy Points to give it for that.

Oh, and you’ll never guess Tommy’s prediction for the 2010-11 season. “If they can put on the floor what’s on paper,” he said to NECN, “we’re gonna win a title.”

Training Camp: Day 1

The Celtics practiced for three hours in a hot and humid gym yesterday at Salve Regina University in Newport, R.I. An evening walk-through got pushed until this morning. The news? The veterans’ conditioning is the biggest question going forward, Jermaine O’Neal worked mainly with the starters and Kevin Garnett “just looked explosive,” according to Doc Rivers. “He had his hop back.”

Following the practice, Shaquille O’Neal tweeted, “First day is over, the truth and ray allen didn’t miss a shot, daaayum I wish I was a shooter.”

That’s a far cry from Von Wafer‘s tweet at 2 a.m. the morning before practice: “jus woke to use the bathroom back to sleep big day tomorrow.” Thanks for the update, Von. Wafer reportedly tweaked an ankle during the first day of practice.

According to the Fredericksburg (Va.) Free Lance-Star, the C’s are waiting for a letter from FIBA Europe that will clear Chris Johnson to participate in training camp. The 6-foot-11 LSU product apparently attended practice yesterday but didn’t participate. His agent said the process normally takes seven days, and the Celtics sent the letter last week, while Johnson was reportedly participating in unofficial workouts in Boston.

Magic impressions

Members of the Orlando Magic were quick to point out to Fox Sports Florida that the East does not belong to the Heat. The Celtics, if you remember, are the returning Eastern Conference champions …

Dwight Howard: “I got tired of [hearing about the Heat] as soon as LeBron said he was going to Miami. Our discussions are not about Miami and what they’re doing. Our discussions are about what we are going to do to win a championship. What are we going to sacrifice? How are we going to play night in and night out so we can win a championship? We’re not banking on beating the Miami Heat or saying, ‘Hey we need to beat the Heat.’ That’s not our concern.”

Stan Van Gundy: “I don’t think anybody is doubting Miami’s talent and the fact that they’re going to be a serious challenge, but we don’t doubt Boston’s talent or them being a serious challenge. Or Atlanta, Chicago, Milwaukee, Philadelphia [or] Washington. There’s a lot of people who got better in the East. I think the challenge only rises, and I think we’re very confident in ourselves as a team and we look forward to those challenges ahead.”

J.J. Redick also made interesting comments to the Orlando Pinstriped Post during the Magic’s Media Day …

“I still have a bitter taste in my mouth,” he said. “I don’t know if we could have beaten Boston last year because we didn’t play our best game. We just–we got our butts kicked. … [Toughness is] a big reason why Boston beat us. It’s mental, man. Those guys were tougher mentally than us during that series.”

Top 10 All-Time Celtics

A Lakers fan ranked the top-10 Celtics of all-time on the Bleacher Report (similarly, a Celtics fan ranked the top-10 Lakers of all-time). As shocking as this may be to the person who commented on the Antoine Walker link in yesterday’s Irish Coffee (to quote: “Felger is an idiot but he isn’t stupid like weei people INCLUDINg this writer who was never around befoerw [sic] KG”), Antoine did not crack the top 10. Neither did Dino Radja. I kid. I kid. Paul Pierce did make the list. Who do you think was left off?

Putting a Price on Rondo’s jumpshot

The Herald’s Dan Duggan tweeted, “Rajon Rondo didn’t work out with Mark Price this summer. Said he didn’t do anything special to work on his shooting, but feels good about it.” Jay King at Celtics Town makes a good point: “Why would we even WANT Rondo to do something special to fix his jumper? I mean, it’s not like he shot 21.2% from behind the arc last season. It’s not like defenders were able to sag off him and clog the lane. It’s not like Rondo gives Shaq a run for his money as the worst free throw shooter on the Celtics.” Here’s to hoping Rondo was kidding.

Chicago Bullish on Thibodeau

According to the Chicago Tribune, the Bulls players are getting more than an earful from former Celtics assistant coach Tom Thibodeau.

“He’ll talk for like two or three hours, so you have to shorten your conversation with him real quick, come up with a good lie or something,” Derrick Rose told the Tribune. “Have one of your friends call you and say you gotta go pick him up or something.”

There’s no hint of green envy in Thibodeau’s eyes any longer. Asked if he’d occasionally wear the 2008 championship ring he won with the Celtics, he said, “I have to find it first. That was then. This is now. We want to build championship habits. It’s a lot of rhetoric to talk about. The real serious teams do it every day from how they practice.”

Read More: Chris Johnson, Rajon Rondo, Tom Thibodeau, Tommy Heinsohn
Celtics: Irish Coffee 09.28.10 at 7:35 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …

Yesterday, the Celtics held their annual Media Day extravaganza, leading into today’s training camp kickoff. Check out the top five quotes that came out of a day that featured Shaq donning green for the first time …

Kendrick Perkins on Game 7 vs. the Lakers: “If I would have played we would have won for sure. By double-figures.”

Shaquille O’Neal on Kobe Bryant’s five rings: “Yeah, I heard it. My whole career I’ve been the measuring stick. Glad to see I’m still relevant. I would’ve been more upset, more hurt, if Tim Duncan would’ve made the comment. I don’t compete with guards. They have the ball more than I do, they shoot way more than I do. You can’t compete with guards. I’m only competing with Tim Duncan, so hopefully I can get No. 5 before Tim Duncan, respectfully before Tim Duncan.”

Kevin Garnett on the 2010-11 season: “I’m really excited, really excited. I don’t like us, I love us. I like how we are, I like our depth, and I’m eager to start.”

Jermaine O’Neal on his new team: “I haven’t walked into a locker room where we talked about winning a championship and a championship only in a long time.”

Delonte West on the truth of the LeBron’s mom rumors: “Not at all. I come from an era where you don’t say nothing bad about someone’s parent, so not at all.”

Nate Robinson hijinks

On the bus ride down to training camp in Newport, Nate Robinson played a few pranks on his sleeping teammates–including Shaq, KG and Delonte–and he posted the pictures to prove it on his Twitter page. Funny stuff.

Antoine Walker’s unemployment

Just a fantastic piece on Antoine Walker by David Aldridge. It’s blunt. He cited one coach who called the former first-round pick “a bad guy in Boston.” Walker touched on his gambling problem and how a “terrible decision” to invest in Chicago real estate led to losses in the double-digit millions. He talked about how he’s had to shrink his inner-circle to a select few, which includes M.L. Carr. After ballooning to almost 300 pounds, Walker is back down to about 265 and looking for a job. So far, though, he’s been turned down by everybody, including the Heat, who he won a championship with in 2006.

“He is a long, long way from the Shimmy and the three All-Star appearances,” writes Aldridge, “and the days he and Paul Pierce were the Celtics’ future, and the day that he signed an extension in Boston that should have taken care of his family for life. There’s no buzz that I can detect that there’s a team interested, so Walker will wait and see if someone goes down during camp and a team needs a body. He wouldn’t mind a camp invite just so he can stay in shape, even if there’s not a real prospect of a job.

“And if it ends for him here? Well, he’s been poor before.”

Paul Pierce, the blogger

Pierce posted a blog on the Boston.com website yesterday. He described how meaningful his high school jersey retirement ceremony.

“Of all the things in my career,” he wrote, “going back to Inglewood High School and having my jersey retired this week in front of my family and friends and the people in my community who supported me from the beginning, was one of the most memorable.”

Considering his career includes an NBA title, that’s saying a lot.

Celtics Late Night Show

Listen to our own Paul Flannery on the Celtics Late Night Show by Gino’s Jungle. He touches on all things green, including Media Day, why fans will like Jermaine O’Neal, Shaq’s star quality, KG’s health, why Rajon Rondo doesn’t watch basketball and the addition of Lawrence Frank to the coaching staff.

Read More: Antoine Walker, Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce
Celtics: Irish Coffee 09.27.10 at 7:33 am ET
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It’s time again for your morning cup of Irish coffee. Following the referees’ annual meeting late last week, the NBA announced new guidelines for technical foul calls. Guyism explained all four new guidelines with some comical Rasheed Wallace footage, of course. The guidelines are as follows …

  • “Players making aggressive gestures, such as air punches, anywhere on the court”
  • “Excessive inquiries about a call, even in a civilized tone”
  • “Running directly at an official to complain about a call”
  • “Players who use body language to question or demonstrate displeasure”

These stricter rules could spell trouble for the Celtics, even without Rasheed. Kendrick Perkins (16), Kevin Garnett (6), Paul Pierce (5) and Rajon Rondo (4) all finished in the top 50 for technical fouls last season. Based on the above descriptions, Perk might be eligible for a technical foul roughly every time he hears a whistle. Heck, he might even get a handful of techs before he comes back from the knee injury.

The Reclamation of Delonte West

Kelly Dwyer at Ball Don’t Lie has an interesting take on Delonte West‘s return to the Celtics. He believes this C’s team could be just what the doctor ordered for West, who has suffered from mental issues throughout his career.

“So even with the nonguaranteed contract, you would hope that the Celtics are in it for the long haul, and not for some guy to take a chance on because Tony Allen followed the money to Memphis,” writes Dwyer. “Because this really could be the first season of the rest of Delonte’s life, in 2010-11, as their supportive environment and steady work could be the best possible thing for West as he tries to move forward.”

NBADL Rule Change

The NBA and NBA Development League have reached a deal that allows as many as three players cut from an NBA roster to be assigned to their D-League affiliate. So, the Celtics could potentially store training camp invitees Chris Johnson, Stephane Lasme and Jamar Smith in Maine with the Red Claws (Did Jackie Moon play for them?). I’m sure all four Red Claws fans are drooling at the opportunity to watch Stephane Lasme all winter. Tickets must be flying off the shelves.

Perfect Paul Pierce

Paul Pierce spoke to the media on Saturday following a fitness rally for his charities, The Truth on Health and FitClub34. After a “perfect” summer, he’s excited to chase another title.

“I’ve been in the gym for the last couple of weeks and I’ve probably seen everybody,” Pierce told the Herald. “I’ve been comparing this to the last couple of years. It’s like a new energy with Shaq, Jermaine. You can just kind of feel it around the practice facility–just the energy, the vibe of the guys in the locker room–that we left something behind last year and that’s the trophy.”

Energy isn’t the first word that comes to mind when I think of Shaquille and Jermaine O’Neal (“The O’Neal brothers,” as Doc Rivers has dubbed them).

Shhhhhh! You’ll wake Bill Russell!

I’m not exactly sure why I found this so funny, but I did. Hats off to GrahamSpector.tumblr.com for that.

Read More: Bill Russell, Delonte West, Paul Pierce, Rasheed Wallace
Brian Scalabrine: “Last Man on the Pine” 09.24.10 at 3:11 pm ET
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 Marilyn Monroe. Princess Diana. Brian Scalabrine. Three of the most tragic losses of the past 50 years. Elton John memorialized Norma Jeane in his classic ballad “Candle in the Wind,” then re-recorded the tune following Lady Di’s death. Now? The Rocket Man has re-re-recorded the song to pay tribute to Scal’s free-agent departure to the Chicago Bulls

 

Goodbye old friend Scal
Though I never knew you at all
You had the grace to warm the bench
While those around you played
They sat you in your warmups
As the crowd was chanting your name
They kept you on the treadmill
Until the end of the game

And it seems to me you lived your life
As the last man on the pine
Never knowing if they’ll play you
When you’re up twenty nine
And I would have liked to have known you
But I was just a fan
Your contract ran out long before
Your legend ever can

Benchwarming was tough
The toughest role you ever played
The Garden created a superstar
And pain was the price you paid
Even when you left
Oh the press still hounded you
All the papers had to say
Was that Scalabrine signed with the Bulls

Goodbye old friend Scal
Though I never knew you at all
You had the grace to warm the bench
While those around you played
Goodbye old friend Scal
From the young man in the upper balcony
Who sees you as something more than abysmal
More than just Brian Scalabrine

Read More: Brian Scalabrine, Elton John, Marilyn Monroe, Princess Diana
Paul Pierce’s Truth on Health Rally 09.24.10 at 1:27 pm ET
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If you’re looking for something to do with your kids in the Boston area tomorrow, Paul Pierce is scheduled to appear at a rally in Copley Square between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on behalf of his charities, The Truth on Health and FitClub34. Pierce has been volunteering to help children lead more active lifestyles. For more info, check out the event’s Facebook page here.

Read More: FitClub34, Paul Pierce, The Truth on Health,
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