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Irish Coffee: Tiger Woods disses old Celtics 10.12.11 at 2:37 pm ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …

Tiger Woods is bummed. And not for any of the first few million reasons you would think.

Like most basketball fans, the Los Angeles area native and Lakers fan just wants the NBA back. Asked about the league’s lockout during a media session prior to the Chevron World Challenge in Thousand Oaks, Calif., Woods couldn’t help but take a jab at the Celtics:

“Yeah, of course I’m bummed. I think anybody who is an NBA fan is certainly bummed. I know that probably one person who is happy is probably Doc Rivers. I mean, with the age of his team, it’s nice for them to only play half a season. It’s true. It’s a fact, come on.

“But as far as us out west, I’m looking forward to the Lakers getting back there and we’ll see what they do. The problem is you can’t talk to anybody. You can’t see who is potentially on the block of being traded, what kind of deals can we do? Nothing can be happening.

“So as a fan, it’s disconcerting because I’m excited about what we could add to the team, but it’s also I understand this is business, and everyone in this business wants to make money. I know the owners were losing a bunch of money, and some of the markets were feeling the effects. They can’t draw certain players, so they’re just trying to make it fair for everybody so everybody can win.”

Since Rivers would never fire back at Woods, I’ll take this opportunity to do it for him.

Dear Tiger, Read the rest of this entry »

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Irish Coffee: Why no NBA exhibition games in Boston? 10.11.11 at 1:57 pm ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …

A month ago, Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo practiced alongside LeBron James at the University of Kentucky. A week ago, the C’s Big Three partied with Bron Bron in New York City. And a couple days ago, Rondo played on Queen James’ team in the South Florida All-Star Classic. Naturally, LeBron’s team lost.

And Celtics fans continue to lose, starting with the cancellation of the first two weeks of the NBA season. While C’s players Rondo, Paul Pierce, Jeff Green, Glen Davis, Avery Bradley, Jermaine O’Neal and JaJuan Johnson have played everywhere from Florida to China, none have offered any such glimpse to the Boston faithful.

Just this past weekend, Rondo played in the South Florida All-Star Classic and on the University of Kentucky’s Big Blue All-Stars (see the embedded video for his circus buzzer-beater to end the first half of a 115-87 victory). He reportedly buried a trio of 3-pointers but went down hard in a game against Georgetown College on Monday.

Celtics free agent combo guard Delonte West could be playing for the Goodman League in “The Chocolate City against the City of Brotherly Love” in Washington D.C. on Saturday. C’s restricted free agent Jeff Green has also played for the Goodman League in games against Los Angeles, New York, Indianapolis and Philadelphia.

During the NBA lockout, Pierce played with Michael Beasley in China and Mario Chalmers in Kansas. Davis teamed with Zach Randolph in Louisiana. Bradley and O’Neal participated in the Impact Basketball Competitive Training Series in Las Vegas. Johnson battled Green in Indiana before practicing with Rondo in Kentucky. And Ray Allen has been training at the University of Connecticut in Storrs. Yet, none have played in Boston.

If fans must endure another month of lockout talk and high-profile exhibition games, would it be too much to ask someone (cough, Celtics captain Paul Pierce, cough) to organize an exhibition game in Boston? Are you telling me Pierce couldn’t recruit Rondo, Allen, Garnett, Johnson, West, Green, Big Baby and whoever else (Chris Herren, for one) to participate in a charity game in Boston benefiting his Truth on Health campaign?

Besides, if the NBA ever gets around to reaching a collective bargaining agreement, Celtics training camp will be abbreviated and games will creep up on their aged legs fairly quickly. Would it be so bad for C’s players to hold scrimmages open to the public (for a charitable donation, of course) at high schools around the city?

Or is that just another NBA fan from Boston asking too much? Read the rest of this entry »

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Irish Coffee: Kevin Garnett fights for the nobodies 10.07.11 at 1:28 pm ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …

If you weren’t on the players’ side of the NBA lockout before, it’s getting harder and harder not to be.

Despite the fact that they are inching closer and closer to losing paychecks, and despite the fact that the league’s top players are finding it more and more difficult to seek employment overseas — an issue we’ll get to in a moment — NBA superstars are holding firm against owners.

Yahoo! Sports columnist Adrian Wojnarowski called Kevin Garnett‘s “apoplectic” plea to his fellow players not to drop lower than a 52-48 split on behalf of the league’s next generation — even in the face of losing his $21 million salary and perhaps his last best chance at a second NBA title to a lost season — “one of the most unselfish acts in these labor talks.” Here’s what one young mid-level salary player told Wojnarowski:

“What he’s doing now, to me, it says a lot about K.G. He’s willing to sit out the year, and give up [$21 million] at the end of his last big contract, and probably his last really good chance to win another ring. For him, this is about the principle.

“I don’t want to hear this stuff from our guys saying, ‘Oh, he can afford to sit out. He’s made a lot of money.’ I respect the [expletive] out of those guys standing up for us right now, him, Kobe, all of them.”

If owners and players don’t reach an agreement by Monday, the NBA will cancel the first two weeks of the regular season. If the lockout lingers any further, the players will indeed lose paychecks beginning on Nov. 15.

The four most prominent players at the most recent collective bargaining session in New York City — Garnett, Kobe Bryant, Paul Pierce and Amare Stoudemire — stand to lose a combined $219,000 per day if the NBA does not return by mid-November. I’m not sure, but I think that’s a lot of money.

“It’s very, very easy to jump ship when things get hard,” Garnett told Yahoo! Sports. “It’s very, very easy to start thinking differently. I’m not that type of person.”

NBA owners are in this for the long haul, as those who own profitable franchises will be able to make up for lost revenue fairly quickly over the course of the collective bargaining agreement and those who (claim they) don’t profit will actually save money each day the lockout continues.

That’s not the case for aging superstars like Bryant and Garnett, who have 1,401 combined hours of NBA basketball on their aching knees. And it’s not as easy as they might have once thought to make that money back overseas, as Bucks center Andrew Bogut‘s agent David Bauman noted to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Irish Coffee: Celtics legend Bill Russell sues NCAA 10.06.11 at 11:59 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …

Dear Electronic Arts,

I’ve got good news and bad news for you.

You want the good news first? Kudos on the NBA 2K12 commercial featuring San Francisco Giants closer Brian Wilson. His argument for the 1986 Celtics as the greatest team ever is pretty much perfect.

I particularly enjoyed this quote from the Winchester, Mass. native: “If you were to take all those players and put them in a blender of greatness, you’d get strawberry milkshake, because they’re sweet.”

Now for the bad news. Bill Russell is suing you. And he’s suing the NCAA. It takes a lot to get under the skin of the greatest winner in sports history, but you’ve gone and done it. The lawsuit accuses the two conglomerates of using Russell’s likeness without compensation or his consent.

Russell’s claim argues that the NCAA violates antitrust laws by profiting from video of former student-athletes, like $150 videos of his two University of San Francisco championship seasons. The Celtics legend also accuses EA Sports of using his image in the “Tournament of Legends” portion of their college basketball game.

“Bill Russell, one of the greatest NCAA, NBA and Olympic basketball players in history, joins the lawsuit brought by Ed O’Bannon alleging that the NCAA has violated federal antitrust law by unlawfully foreclosing former Division I men’s basketball and football players from receiving any compensation related to the commercial use of their images and likenesses,” attorney Jon King told Bloomberg via e-mail.

Have fun arguing against a Presidential Medal of Freedom honoree in court.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Irish Coffee: Paul Pierce to the NBA rescue! 10.04.11 at 12:20 pm ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …

Only two players attended Monday’s NBA collective bargaining session with commissioner David Stern and the NBA brass. One was National Basketball Players Association president Derek Fisher. The other? Paul Pierce.

Pierce isn’t a member of the union’s executive committee, although CBS Sports columnist Ken Berger suggested the Celtics captain and player representative has expressed interest in becoming the Joe Biden to Fisher’s Barack Obama. Regardless, NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver cited Pierce as someone who actually brought tangible ideas to the table during labor discussions in New York City over the weekend.

Not only is Pierce expected to join Fisher again on Tuesday, but Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett have reportedly been invited to join a small group of players in what might be the final negotiating window before the NBA starts canceling regular-season games. Imagine that. Lakers and Celtics on the same side of the ball.

Pierce’s presence is only magnified by the fact that his agent, Jeff Schwartz, is among a handful who encourage union decertification and drafted a letter urging the players not to accept a revenue share less than 52 percent — six points higher than Stern’s current offer and two points above what some believe could seal a deal.

Are those final two percentage points — a total of $80 or so million — worth destroying the momentum that two Celtics-Lakers finals and a Heat firestorm created over the last few seasons? It’s hard to imagine Pierce & Co. allowing these negotiations to devolve into decertification, as that could cost the league the 2011-12 NBA season. These are the issues that Pierce, Fisher, Garnett, Bryant and their colleagues face.

My how far Pierce has come since he got ejected from Game 6 of a first-round series loss to the Pacers in the 2005 NBA Playoffs, swung his Celtics jersey over his head at the Conseco Fieldhouse crowd and showed up to the post-game press conference with his head wrapped in a faux bandage.

If the 2008 NBA Finals MVP was Pierce’s defining moment on the court, this could be his moment of Truth off it. He could cement his legacy as not only a Hall of Famer but a power player in the NBA’s future for years to come.

For more on Tuesday’s pivotal NBA labor negotiations, WEEI.com’s Paul Flannery sets the stage perfectly.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Irish Coffee: Celtics, Heat party in NYC’s meatpacking district (not that there’s anything wrong with that) 10.03.11 at 11:58 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …

Enough’s enough. The NBA might still be locked out, but Irish Coffee’s holdout has officially come to an end. It’s October, and NBA training camps should be in progress. Instead, the Celtics and Heat are partying together.

After the C’s swept the Knicks and got out-athleticismed (new word!) by the Heat in five games during the 2011 NBA Playoffs, did you ever think you’d be reading about Carmelo Anthony hosting Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen in New York City’s meatpacking district on Oct. 3? At least the Daily News reported that “the Boston boys and Anthony’s crew exchanged little more than ‘hi and bye’ pleasantries.”

Did you think Rajon Rondo would pledge to play alongside Wade, LBJ, Chris Bosh, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire at an event hosted by Isiah Thomas on Oct. 8? At least its for charity.

Did you think restricted free agent Jeff Green – the crux of the Kendrick Perkins deal that many believe killed the Celtics season faster than an unnamed Red Sox player can slam a beer in the clubhouse — would be discussing the oh-so-difficult process of making smoothies on some lady’s couch (see embedded video)? At least he’s staying healthy. (On an unrelated note, should we tell them that almond milk, bananas, strawberries, blueberries and ice isn’t a protein shake?)

Read the rest of this entry »

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Would this 50/50 split solve the NBA lockout? 09.22.11 at 2:55 pm ET
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While NBA owners and players continue the debate on Thursday over a collective bargaining agreement to end the league’s lockout, let’s offer the two sides a fairly simple solution that took only a couple of hours to calculate.

Based on figures published by Forbes, teams raked in $3.8 billion in revenue during the 2009-10 NBA season — 57 percent (or $2.2 billion) of which went to the league’s players – yet 17-of-30 clubs managed to lose money that year. That’s not what Wyc Grousbeck & Co. are looking for, obviously.

But what if the players agreed to split that $3.8 billion in revenue down the middle, giving seven percent (or $154 million) in total salaries back to the owners? Such a 50-50 split would increase each of the 30 team’s operating income by $5.1 million — instantly chopping the number of squads losing money from 17 to 12. Not a bad start.

Too much of a concession on the player’s behalf, you say? Well, according to Adrian Wojnarowski‘s  latest report, such a reduction appears not only possible but likely. Besides, a 50-50 divide is still better than the 53-47 split that favored NFL owners in their recent deal. Now, what to do about the 12 teams still losing money?

Let’s say the 18 NBA owners who are profiting agree to place 50 percent of their operating income into a revenue sharing system. That’s a grand total of $202.5 million. Divided up evenly, each of the 30 teams gets $6.75 million from that pool. Based on those 2009-10 numbers, only three teams would be left in the red: the Magic (-$11.3 million, because they stupidly paid Rashard Lewis and Vince Carter a combined $34.1 million), the Bobcats (-$8.2 million, because the league granted a new team to a city that failed to support the Hornets) and the Pacers (-$5.1 million, partly for overpaying Troy Murphy, Mike Dunleavy and T.J. Ford).

Still, based on the 2009-10 numbers, 27-of-30 NBA teams would be profiting from that system — in one of the worst economic downturns in the country’s history. That’s about as foolproof as you can get, right?

Sure, this hypothetical system means less money for the 11 most profitable teams — the Knicks, Bulls, Rockets, Lakers, Pistons, Raptors, Thunder, Suns, Warriors, Clippers and Blazers — but all of those teams benefited from either their location (a top-12 media market or Canada) and/or spending significantly less on player salaries.

In fact, the NBA could withhold all or a portion of a team’s $6.75 million in revenue sharing for failure to spend to the luxury tax threshold. That would provide an incentive for owners to put as much money back into their teams as possible — a spending floor, if you will — something that would surely please the players at the bargaining table. Such a concession might even open the door for players to consider the hard salary cap that the owners are so hell bent on securing during these negotiations.

Obviously, I understand that there are intricacies of a collective bargaining agreement that I’m never going to understand, but a 50-50 split of total revenue between the players and owners as well as a 50-50 split of total operating income between the owners and themselves seems like a pretty fair deal to me.

Discussions about owners and players dividing up millions and billions of dollars are understandably both confusing for those following them and infuriating for fans who just want to watch professional basketball again, so I offer this chart of the hypothetical revenue sharing system to benefit all parties involved …

Read the rest of this entry »

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