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Jermaine O’Neal loves the Celtics 10.14.10 at 1:04 pm ET
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In a conversation with SLAM Online‘s Russ Bengtson prior to last night’s game against the Knicks, Jermaine O’Neal continued to heap praise on his new team:

  • ‘€œIt’€™s hard to explain the chemistry that we have. I always try to picture words to express the feeling that I have about being here. You know, obviously the rich tradition of championships and all the guys that’€™ve played in this uniform. It’€™s definitely an honor and a pleasure to be involved in something like this.’€
  • “Most teams you’€™re on you’€™re gonna dominate the guy that’€™s backing you up or the guy that you share time with. But here it’€™s like, OK, let me get stretched. Let me make sure I’€™m ready to go when Doc says let’€™s go.’€
  • ‘€œEverything that I’€™ve pictured it would be, it’€™s been that way. But it’€™s been probably five times better. You look at the point in my career where the chapter’€™s coming to a close, and if I had to pick a group of guys to close it with, this is it right here.’€
Read More: Jermaine O'Neal,
NBA Power Rankings, 10/14 10.14.10 at 12:12 pm ET
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1. LA Lakers: Lamar Odom hired his mother-in-law, Kris Jenner, as his new manager. If the knee injuries to Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum don’t spell doom for the Lakers, this could, as anybody who has seen “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” can attest. We’ll leave them in the top spot — until Kris makes Odom pose nude or something.

2. Boston: After his jumper to beat the Knicks, Paul Pierce appears to be up to his old game-winning ways. And the Celtics bench seems to keep getting deeper and deeper. The play of Semih Erden, Stephane Lasme and Luke Harangody has been an encouraging sign. So far, the injury bug has only claimed Delonte West, and he’s suspended for 10 games anyway.

3. Miami: First it was Dwyane Wade’s hamstring, and now it’s LeBron James‘ leg cramps. I heard somewhere that if Wade really does miss the remainder of the preseason, the Heat’s Big 3 (do they have a nickname yet?) will have only played a few minutes together before taking on the Celtics on opening night. I think it’s just a marketing ploy.

4. Oklahoma City: Larry Brown recently called the Thunder everything that’s right with the NBA: young, talented and well-behaved. I couldn’t agree more. This team should be fun to watch all season long, especially if Longar Longar makes the roster.

5. Dallas: With this new technical foul rule, how much in fines do you think Mark Cuban will spend this year? I’m putting the over/under at $1 million. In other news, I love the nickname for Mavericks rookie Dominique Jones: DoJo.

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Read More: Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, NBA, Paul Pierce
Irish Coffee: Tommy Point Taken 10.14.10 at 9:32 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

My biggest concern about the new technical foul rule that got Kevin Garnett ejected last night for laughing (GASP!!!)? Tommy Heinsohn‘s health. I mean, it’s only the preseason, and he almost blew a gasket. Only Tommy could sum up the rule so succinctly: “NBA: It’s Stupid!”

Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski challenged the league’s stars — and therefore the biggest draws (cha-ching!) — to dare the refs to eject them from regular-season games. Fans won’t be too happy if they pay big bucks for the Celtics-Heat showdown on opening night (tickets are going for as much as $8,950), and LeBron James or KG are tossed a few minutes into the game.

Even before Jermaine O’Neal got a second tech in as many nights for (barely) reacting to a whistle last night, he expressed his concern over the stricter rules to Wojnarowski:

‘€œThese new rules are very, very excessive. They’€™re telling us the general public says we whine too much, but look at the way the NBA’€™s business is growing globally. I can see both sides of this. No one wants to see complaining over every call, but look at the rules. You can’€™t even make a hand gesture — never mind say anything. It’€™s going to be interesting to see the first two weeks of the season and how all this slows the pace.

‘€œThe message we’€™re getting is that this is about cleaning up the perceptions of the NBA. We never really know the reasons. We’€™re just a product out there that gets the memos.’€

Just what the NBA needs: Referees with more power.

SHAQ’S WORD OF THE DAY: ‘PAU GASOLISH’

Video killed the radio star, and Shaquille O’Neal killed the true center. The New York media crowded around Shaq last night in hopes of getting a few precious gems from The Big Shamrock. And they obviously got them.

“I think I killed off all the centers, and now all the centers want to play the European-style basketball. There’s only 1.5 or 2 real centers left, Dwight Howard and Yao Ming. Every now and then Yao Ming steps outside and wants to shoot jumpers, but it’s gone more toward the European style. The days of Patrick Ewing and Rik Smits and Kevin Duckworth and Robert Parish, those days are over, thanks to me.”

“I’ve never lost a series to a guy shooting jumpers — besides Pau [Gasol], but Pau has a couple of extra weapons with him. There hasn’t been a center that has won shooting jumpers. Pau is 60-40 — 60 inside and 40 shooting jumpers. So I think the centers are getting a little more Pau Gasolish.”

Shaq also reiterated his team goal (a 5th ring) and revealed his individual goal: passing Wilt Chamberlain in scoring. He trails Wilt by 3,164 points, so he’d have to average 19.3 points, playing all 82 games in each of the two seasons on his contract. The C’s can only hope.

AMERICA’S MOST WANTED … BALD MEN

KG and Shaq both made GQ Magazine’s list of the 100 Most Powerful Bald Men in America. Whoever made the list demonstrated their vast knowledge of NBA history by calling KG a three-time MVP, even though he only won one (in 2004).

Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Charles Barkley and Jeff Van Gundy also made the list. If those four took a picture together, I’m not sure I could pick Van Gundy out of the lineup.

Wait a second, Vin Diesel made the list, and I didn’t? I’ve been rocking the bald look as a white guy since my hairline started running away from my face in college. A little respect.

VON WAFER WANTS MORE

Von Wafer is in jeopardy of failing to make the Celtics roster, but that’s not stopping him. According to SLAM Magazine, he not only wants a roster spot; he wants playing time: ‘€œI’€™m not just trying to make it; I’€™m trying to play, too. Just making it is not enough for me.’€

That might be a tall order for an offense-first scorer who isn’t scoring … unless the C’s suffer six injuries at the guard spot.

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

Read More: Jermaine O'Neal, Kevin Garnett, Shaquille O'Neal, Tommy Heinsohn
The ‘Amazing Grace’ of Alex English 10.13.10 at 2:56 pm ET
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Alex English may never have been a Celtic, but he played one in the movies.

Prior to the C’s preseason win over Toronto, the Raptors assistant coach and NBA Hall of Famer recalled his fictitious Celtics career as Amazing Grace Smith in the 1987 cult classic film “Amazing Grace and Chuck,” starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Gregory Peck.

“It was kind of weird,” English said of wearing a Celtics uniform in the movie, despite playing in real life for the Denver Nuggets. “The best experience was just being here in the summertime for a week and a half. Red [Auerbach] was still here. I was hanging out with him for a few minutes. That was good. He was always respectful of my game.”

Red and legendary Celtics broadcaster Johnny Most also appeared in the film about a young Midwestern boy’s Cold War-era fears about nuclear war. Despite making just 18 3-point shots during his entire 15-year NBA career, English played a 3-point threat in the film.

Oddly enough, the basketball scenes were filmed during an actual preseason game at the old Boston Garden. English dressed as No. 31 in Celtics green, and the filmmakers asked him to put up a bunch of shots from beyond the arc.

“The character I played was a 3-point shooter, and I’m not a 3-point shooter,” English said. “I put them up. When you look at the movie, they all go in. I think I only made one.”

English auditioned for the part, beating out Magic Johnson and Bernard King among others. It was English’s first acting experience. Since then, he appeared in a two-part episode of the late 1980s NBC television series “Midnight Caller” as well as the 1996 film “Eddie,” starring Whoopi Goldberg.

Every once in a while, when the movie is showed on television, English will get a call from somebody, saying, “Hey, I saw the movie.” So, does he receive residual checks for his part in the film?

“I don’t know if they still have my address,” he joked.

Well, if anybody is looking for him, just scan the Raptors bench.

(WEEI.com site editor Rob Bradford contributed to this report.)

Read More: Alex English, Jamie Lee Curtis, Magic Johnson, Red Auerbach
Irish Coffee: NBA conspiracy theories 10.13.10 at 10:28 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …

It’s time for a conspiracy theory. I’m sure you’ve all heard about Game 6 of the 2002 Western Conference finals between the Kings and Lakers — one of several games former NBA ref Tim Donaghy accused the NBA of rigging in order to squeeze an extra game out of the series. Well, after yesterday’s unrelated arrest of one of the Lakers-Kings Game referees, let’s take a look at the aftermath … again.

  • On July 20, 2007, New York Post columnist Murray Weiss reported an FBI investigation into Donaghy for betting on NBA games he officiated.
  • On Feb. 11, 2008, one Kings-Lakers Game 6 referee, Bob Delaney, spoke with ESPN about his upcoming book, “Covert: My Years Infiltrating the Mob.” The former New Jersey State Police trooper admitted to these criminal activities during his investigation: “stolen property, loan sharking, gambling, purchasing of guns.”
  • On June 11, 2008, The New York Times cited court documents in which Donaghy called out NBA executives and referees for manipulating games, including the 2002 series in question. Keep in mind, Donaghy had already pleaded guilty to conspiring with gamblers at this point.
  • On June 13, 2008, we learned from ESPN’s Chris Sheridan that the FBI questioned at least two former NBA referees about another Lakers-Kings Game 6 ref, Dick Bavetta, more than they did Donaghy. In that report, the game’s third ref, Tim Bernhardt, said: “I stand by my calls in that game. I was right on. I believe in Dick Bavetta, and I believe in Bob Delaney, and I believe in the NBA for that matter.”
  • On Dec. 8, 2009, in an interview with Dennis & Callahan, Donaghy said, “I had many conversations with Dick Bavetta and he claimed that he was the NBA’€™s go-to guy and he was put on certain games to make sure a certain team win.”
  • On Oct. 12, 2010, according to WFIE.com, Bernhardt was arrested in Indiana for violating a restraining order taken out against him by his ex-girlfriend and allegedly burglarizing her residence.

So, to recap the facts, in the last three years the refereeing trio of Kings-Lakers Game 6 has: a) admitted to gambling with the mob, albeit during an investigation as a New Jersey State Police officer (Delaney); b) been the subject of the FBI’s questioning during their investigation into NBA referees (Bavetta); and c) been arrested and charged with burglary and violating a restraining order (Bernhardt).

While none of those incidents implicates any of the three officials or directly relates to the outcome of any NBA game, including Kings-Lakers Game 6, I give you this — in Delaney’s own words — from an interview with ESPN’s Bob Ley: “I have dealt with criminals and informants, and I know full well they are capable of doing and saying anything.”

Now, I know there are more holes in this story than there were in Sonny Corleone‘s car, but that’s why it’s called a conspiracy theory, right?

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Read More: Dwight Howard, Shaquille O'Neal, Tim Bernhardt, Tim Donaghy
Stephane Lasme’s added motivation 10.12.10 at 3:10 pm ET
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BOSTON — Surely, Von Wafer and Mario West are motivated to make the Celtics roster, but Stephane Lasme is playing for something more.

Training in Italy this summer for Russia’s Spartak Saint Petersburg squad, Lasme — a citizen of Gabon — was informed that if he didn’t return to the United States and land a year-long job, he could lose his residency.

“My wife and my baby are American,” the 27-year-old Lasme said after Sunday’s 91-87 win over the Raptors. “To get a chance to see them, I basically have to get a job here.”

Playing for teams in Serbia and Tel Aviv ever since he failed to make the Golden State Warriors and Miami Heat in 2007-08, Lasme decided to return to the U.S., even if that meant a “big, big, big” pay cut.

“I had to make a choice between seeing my family or not seeing my family and taking that much money,” said the 6-foot-8, 220-pound former UMass forward. “For me, the choice is obvious. I’m gonna see my family.”

Even if Lasme fails to make the Celtics roster, he could stay relatively close to his wife Anastasia and 17-month-old Lily in Marlborough, Mass. A new NBA rule would allow the C’s to sign him — along with two other players — to their Developmental League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws.

“Even if I don’t make the team, I’m going to stay around,” said Lasme. “(Signing with the Red Claws) is an option that I’ve thought about with the new rule. Maine is not that far away from home.”

It’s appearing more and more likely that Lasme won’t have to worry about that. Wafer’s minutes have declined in each preseason game, and West has contributed little in two brief stints. Meanwhile, Lasme has made his presence felt, significantly.

After totaling 12 points and four boards in just seven minutes in the opener, he threw down a highlight-reel dunk over Andrea Bargnani in a key moment of Sunday night’s victory over the Raptors. He’s looked downright Leon Powe-esque, and that’s a good thing (remember 2008?).

“I like him a lot,” C’s head coach Doc Rivers said after the game. “I do. He just does everything. He has energy. He has a high basketball IQ. He’s athletic. He’s probably our most athletic player. … He has a great shot at making our team. He’s terrific.”

Capturing Atlantic 10 Player of the Year honors after averaging 13.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 5.1 blocks as a senior, Lasme concluded his college career as UMass’ all-time shot-blocking leader, over Marcus Camby. Since then, he’s added to his game, and if the Celtics keep him around, he’ll get to show off the skills he learned in Europe over the last two years.

“I’ve had a couple of good coaches who have tried to develop my game in the summer, and I think it’s worked out pretty good,” said Lasme. “I’ve worked a lot on my ball-handling and shooting. I know I haven’t shot the ball (from the outside) yet, but I’ve worked a lot on those two aspects. The more I play, the more I’m going to get a chance to show that.”

In all likelihood, he’ll get that chance.

Read More: Doc Rivers, Mario West, Stephane Lasme, Von Wafer
Irish Coffee: Ron Artest guarantees title 10.12.10 at 9:15 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

Ron Artest is pretty confident the Lakers will repeat as NBA champions. He practically guaranteed it in a recent Tweet, claiming he’ll give away his second ring to whoever writes the best essay “on how we can make America better” (he’s already scheduled to auction off his 2009-10 championship ring to benefit mental-health causes).

Where does this competition rank in prestige among essay contests? It probably falls somewhere between the Ayn Rand Institute Essay Contest and the John F. Kennedy library’s Profile in Courage Essay Contest, right? Artest, after all, is the same guy who wrote such lyrical poetry as “Booty Wooty” …

Now I might be quick to get a tech,
But I keep my girls in check,
Punch ‘em in the neck
With the utmost respect.

Talk about making America a better place, huh? Hypocrisy at its finest.

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Read More: Kevin Garnett, LeBron James, Ron Artest, Shaquille O'Neal
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