|Bird, Magic and other legends reflect on DJ||08.13.10 at 1:38 pm ET|
SPRINGFIELD — Dennis Johnson will be officially inducted as a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday night, along with such hoops luminaries as Karl Malone, Scottie Pippen and the 1992 Olympic “Dream Team.” Several members of that 1992 team are in Springfield for the Hall of Fame weekend and met with the media Friday morning. When the name “Dennis Johnson” was raised, all were quick to heap praise on the five-time All-Star.
“No question it’s long overdue,” said Larry Bird, who has famously referred to Johnson as the best teammate he ever played with. “DJ not only performed well for the Celtics but he had a great career before. I’m very happy for him and his family. We always supported one another and he was just a great teammate to play with. Dennis controlled everything we did on the court, you have to understand that to understand our teams. It was an honor to play with him.”
Bird, who teamed with Johnson to win two NBA championships, four Eastern Conference crowns and five Atlantic Division titles, was asked about the chemistry he and DJ had on the court.
“Dennis knew where I wanted the ball, how I wanted the ball and he delivered it,” said Bird. “If I was coming off screens, he always knew where I wanted it, he always led it to my left hand so I could move to my right hand very quickly. Everything he did out there made it easier for me.”
Johnson won a title in his first season with the Celtics, scoring at least 20 points in each of the last four games of the 1984 NBA Finals. His defense was also key in the seven-game classic, as he slowed down Magic Johnson over those last four games. The Lakers’ legend smiled and shook his head when asked about the impact Dennis Johnson had on that series.
“I would have had six [titles] if it wasn’t for Dennis!,” Magic Johnson said Friday. “But no, Dennis is the greatest defensive player I’ve ever played against, and has ever played in the league. Smartest player I ever met. He was five steps ahead. Caused so many problems for me and everyone else that had to go head-to-head with him. Awesome. Big, strong, probably one of the bet players that’s ever plyed the game. I knew Dennis very well because we played against each other every summer at UCLA. We would hang out, and talk basketball all the time. It’s a bittersweet time for me, knowing him so well.
I used to be so mad at Dennis because he used to make me think so much when I played against him. He anticipated my moves before I even knew I was going to do it. Unreal. He was just a master at understanding how to play you, and make you not do what you wanted. And he did it all with that smile, the nice Dennis Johnson. I hated that. He took away what I did best. Great for his family and all of us that knew him so well.”
Charles Barkley echoed some of Magic Johnson’s thoughts, calling DJ “one of the best defensive players of all time.” He also felt this recognition was a long time coming.
“This is way, way overdue, I’ve been saying that for years” said Barkley, who played with the 76ers during the last six seasons of Johnson’s career in Boston. “Clearly everyone is going to talk about the defensive prowess, but the main thing is all the clutch shots he made. So, so tough. It’s crazy that it took so long for this to happen. Go back to Seattle, go back to Boston, a consistent winner. He should have been in the Hall of Fame a long time ago. Just so many clutch shots.”
Lenny Wilkens was an assistant coach on the Dream Team, and also the head coach for the 1979 NBA championship-winning Sonics squad. Wilkens on Friday praised the toughness of Johnson, who was MVP of that Finals series.
“We would put him on the other teams toughest player every time,” Wilkens recalled. “He wanted the challenge. We had to move him to Phoenix but I’ll tell you this: When Red Auerbach called and asked me about Dennis I told him to do whatever he had to do to get him. I knew it would be a perfect fit.”
Scottie Pippen, himself one of the NBA’s most decorated defensive players, counted DJ as a huge influence in his game.
“He was a great guy, well respected all over the league,” said Pippen, an eight-time First-Team all defender (DJ was a six-time choice). “Just a great guy. I watched him as a young kid. I molded a lot of my game after him, as a defender, a playmaker. I’m so honored to be able to join him in the Hall of Fame.”
|Celtics’ preseason schedule||08.13.10 at 11:33 am ET|
Wednesday, October 6 – Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m. at Verizon Wireless Arena
Sunday, October 10 – Toronto, 6:00 p.m. at TD Garden
Tuesday, October 12 – Philadelphia, 7:00 p.m. at Wachovia Center
Wednesday, October 13 – New York, 7:30 p.m. at Madison Square Garden
Friday, October 15 – Toronto, 7:00 p.m. at Air Canada Centre
Saturday, October 16 – New York, 7:30 p.m. at XL Center
Wednesday, October 20 – New Jersey, 7:30 p.m. at TD Garden
|The Greening of ‘Sheed: A look at Wallace’s season in Boston||08.11.10 at 1:31 am ET|
On Tuesday night, the Celtics announced that they had waived Wallace after ‘coming to a mutual agreement following which Wallace plans to retire.’
Wallace, 35, only may have played one year of his contract in Boston, but that was more than enough time for the big man with the big personality to make an impact.
Here is a look back at five (and yes, there are many more than that) of Sheed’s memorable moments with the Celtics:
Welcome to Boston
After a courtship that included a trip to his Michigan home, the Celtics signed Wallace in July of 2009. Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen attended his introductory press conference, where Wallace discussed his excitement of being a Celtic, his role off the bench, and his appreciation of his new teammates’ support.
‘I just want to thank all the guys sitting up here on stage,’ he said. ‘Because they didn’t have to come up here today and show their team compassion about having me here in the city of Boston and playing with them.’
The good ‘¦
Between injuries and inconsistencies, Wallace’s performance during the regular season was shaky. But there were points when he showed glimpses of his former self. Take November 3, 2009, against the 76ers. Wallace scored 20 points in 24 minutes, including six 3-pointers, in front of his hometown crowd.
‘¦ the bad ‘¦
With the playoffs nearing, the outcome of an April game against the Bulls had an impact on postseason seeding. But a second half mishap by Wallace didn’t help the Celtics’ chances of stealing the third spot. The play drew a reaction from the crowd, but not the one the C’s were looking for that night.
‘¦ and the outspoken
Wallace took his outspoken personality with him when he came to Boston. He came close to maxing out on technical fouls and was handed down fines on several occasions. One of his most memorable quotes (which earned him a $30,000 fine for publicly criticizing officials) came following a game against Hedo Turkoglu and the Raptors.
‘They gotta know that he’s a damn flopper,’ he said of Turkoglu. ‘That’s all Turkododo do. Flopping shouldn’t get you nowhere. He acts like I shot him.’
The following month, Wallace was ejected for arguing with officials when he felt referee Bill Kennedy was standing too close to the Celtics huddle.
“I’ll still play my game,’ Wallace said after the ejection. ‘I’ll still be me. I ain’t changing my game for nobody. I ain’t changing nothing for nobody.”
The final call
Wallace’s 15-year career came to an end with seconds left in Game 7 of the NBA finals. Wallace, who started in place of an injured Kendrick Perkins while battling backs spasms himself, fouled out of his final NBA game.
According to reports, he attempted to speak to officials following the Celtics’ loss but was not allowed in the officials’ locker room.
That night, Doc Rivers said he expected Wallace to retire.
‘You know, I don’t know if Rasheed will ever play again,’ Rivers said following Game 7. ‘You know, he’s one of them. I think he took that out on the floor with him. I think he is thinking about retiring, and I thought you could see that in his play. He was dying out there. When he got the cramps and the strains, he was just trying to figure out a way of staying on the floor.’
Wallace scored 11 points and grabbed 8 rebounds in what looks to be his final game.
He averaged 9.0 points and 4.1 rebounds during the regular season for the Celtics. The four-time All-Star has a career average of 14.6 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 46.8 percent field goal shooting. He was selected by the Washington Bullets with the fourth pick in the 1995 NBA Draft.
|Celtics waive Wallace||08.10.10 at 8:37 pm ET|
After one frustrating season the Celtics and Rasheed Wallace have agreed to part ways. The team announced Tuesday night that they waived him after coming to a mutual agreement and that Wallace will retire.
“We would like to thank Rasheed for everything that he did for this team and organization last season,” said Danny Ainge in a statement released by the team. “We would like to wish Rasheed and his family the best as they move on into the next phase of their lives. He will always be a member of the Celtics family.”
Wallace signed a three-year deal last offseason for the full mid-level exception, but his play in the regular season was inconsistent at best. Wallace rebounded with a strong postseason but he was battling several injuries including a bad back in the finals against the Lakers.
The Celtics had tried to trade his contract this summer but couldn’t find a deal to their liking. The waiver process is a procedural formality. It’s highly unlikely anyone will put in a claim. Once he clears waivers, he will become a free agent.
|Celtics’ official schedule released||08.10.10 at 3:17 pm ET|
The 2010-11 NBA schedule was released Tuesday. Highlights for the Celtics include the season-opener vs. the new-look Heat on Oct. 26 at TD Garden and a Christmas Day game at Orlando. The Celtics face off against the Lakers in Los Angeles on Sunday afternoon, Jan. 30, in the fourth game of a five-game road trip. The teams have a rematch on Thursday night, Feb. 10.
The Celtics play at Miami on Nov. 11 and April 10, and host the Heat again on Feb. 13. Orlando comes in for a Martin Luther King Day game on Jan. 17 and returns on Feb. 6. The C’s also will be in action on New Year’s Eve, hosting Chris Paul and the Hornets.
Individual game tickets will go on sale Sept. 17, and some season tickets still remain along with premium seating and suite rentals.
CELTICS 2010-11 SCHEDULE
(all times Eastern)
Tues., Oct. 26, vs. Miami, 7:30 p.m.
Wed., Oct. 27, at Cleveland, 7 p.m.
Fri., Oct. 29, vs. New York, 7:30 p.m.
Tues., Nov. 2, at Detroit, 7:30 p.m.
Wed., Nov. 3, vs. Milwaukee, 8 p.m.
Fri., Nov. 5, vs. Chicago, 8 p.m.
Sun., Nov. 7, at Oklahoma City, 7 p.m.
Mon., Nov. 8, at Dallas, 8:30 p.m.
Thurs., Nov. 11, at Miami, 8 p.m.
Sat., Nov. 13, at Memphis, 8 p.m.
Wed., Nov. 17, vs. Washington, 7:30 p.m.
Fri., Nov. 19, vs. Oklahoma City, 7 p.m.
Sun., Nov. 21, at Toronto, 1 p.m.
Mon., Nov. 22, at Atlanta, 7 p.m.
Wed., Nov. 24, vs. New Jersey, 7:30 p.m.
Fri., Nov. 26, vs. Toronto, 7:30 p.m.
Tues., Nov. 30, at Cleveland, 7 p.m.
Wed., Dec. 1, vs. Portland, 7:30 p.m.
Fri., Dec. 3, vs. Chicago, 8 p.m.
Sun., Dec. 5, at New Jersey, 1 p.m.
Wed., Dec. 8, vs. Denver, 7 p.m.
Thurs., Dec. 9, at Philadelphia, 8 p.m.
Sat. Dec. 11, at Charlotte, 7 p.m.
Wed., Dec. 15, at New York, 7 p.m.
Thurs., Dec. 16, vs. Atlanta, 8 p.m.
Sun., Dec. 19, vs. Indiana, 1 p.m.
Wed., Dec. 22, vs. Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m.
Sat., Dec. 25, at Orlando, 2:30 p.m.
Tues., Dec. 28, at Indiana, 7 p.m.
Wed., Dec. 29, at Detroit, 7:30 p.m.
Fri., Dec. 31, vs. New Orleans, 3 p.m.
Sun., Jan. 2, at Toronto, 6 p.m.
Mon., Jan. 3, vs. Minnesota, 7:30 p.m.
Wed., Jan. 5, vs. San Antonio, 7:30 p.m.
Fri., Jan. 7, vs. Toronto, 7:30 p.m.
Sat., Jan. 8, at Chicago, 8 p.m.
Mon., Jan. 10, vs. Houston, 7:30 p.m.
Wed., Jan. 12, vs. Sacramento, 7:30 p.m.
Fri., Jan. 14, vs. Charlotte, 7:30 p.m.
Mon., Jan. 17, vs. Orlando, 8 p.m.
Wed., Jan. 19, vs. Detroit, 7:30 p.m.
Fri., Jan. 21, vs. Utah, 7:30 p.m.
Sat., Jan. 22, at Washington, 7 p.m.
Tues., Jan. 25, vs. Cleveland, 7:30 p.m.
Thurs., Jan. 27, at Portland, 10:30 p.m.
Fri., Jan. 28, at Phoenix, 11:30 p.m.
Sun., Jan. 30, at LA Lakers, 3:30 p.m.
Tues., Feb. 1, at Sacramento, 10 p.m.
Fri., Feb. 4, vs. Dallas, 8 p.m.
Sun., Feb. 6, vs. Orlando, 2:30 p.m.
Mon., Feb. 7, at Charlotte, 7 p.m.
Thurs., Feb. 10, vs. LA Lakers, 8 p.m.
Sun., Feb. 13, vs. Miami, 1 p.m.
Wed., Feb. 16, vs. New Jersey, 7:30 p.m.
Tues., Feb. 22, at Golden State, 10:30 p.m.
Thurs., Feb. 24, at Denver, 10:30 p.m.
Sat., Feb. 26, at LA Clippers, 10:30 p.m.
Mon., Feb. 28, at Utah, 9 p.m.
Wed., March 2, vs. Phoenix., 7:30 p.m.
Fri., March 4, vs. Golden State, 7:30 p.m.
Sun., March 6, at Milwaukee, 9 p.m.
Wed., March 9, vs. LA Clippers, 7:30 p.m.
Fri., March 11, at Philadelphia, 7 p.m.
Sun., March 13, vs. Milwaukee, 6 p.m.
Mon., March 14, at New Jersey, 7 p.m.
Wed., March 16, vs. Indiana, 7:30 p.m.
Fri., March 18, at Houston, 8:30 p.m.
Sat., March 19, at New Orleans, 8 p.m.
Mon., March 21, at New York, 7:30 p.m.
Wed., March 23, vs. Memphis, 7:30 p.m.
Fri., March 25, vs. Charlotte, 7:30 p.m.
Sun., March 27, at Minnesota, 7 p.m.
Mon., March 28, at Indiana, 7 p.m.
Thurs., March 31, at San Antonio, 8 p.m.
Fri., April 1, at Atlanta, 8 p.m.
Sun., April 3, vs. Detroit, 6 p.m.
Tues., April 5, vs. Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m.
Thurs., April 7, at Chicago, 8 p.m.
Fri., April 8, vs. Washington, 7:30 p.m.
Sun., March 10, at Miami, 3:30 p.m.
Mon., March 11, at Washington, 7 p.m.
Wed., March 13, vs. New York, 8 p.m.
|What about Perk?||08.10.10 at 3:06 pm ET|
Left out in the Celtics big summer moves is Kendrick Perkins who underwent knee surgery and is expected to be about until the All-Star break. With Jermaine O’Neal and Shaquille O’Neal on board, the Celtics are loaded with size at the center spot, so where does that leave Perk?
“Kendrick has a very bright future and obviously he knows that we think very highly of him,” Danny Ainge said. “Were not certain when he is going to be 100 percent and that does us allow to be patient with Kendrick. At the same time I’m sure Kendrick is worried and nervous because we are going to win basketball games with this frontline even when he’s not playing. Hopefully he can just focus on getting healthy and competing for his job back.”
|Shaq and the bench question||08.10.10 at 3:02 pm ET|
On the day he was introduced as Celtic, Shaquille O’Neal artfully maneuvered around the question of whether or not he will start at center next season.
“There will be an O’Neal on the floor,” Shaq said referring to himself and Jermaine O’Neal, the Celtics other key free agent center acquisition. Shaq went on to say that it didn’t matter to him who started.
In the days leading up to the signing, Doc Rivers was brutally honest with Shaq about his playing time, about his motives and whether he would accept coming off the bench.
“I told him there was not 30 minutes on this team,” Rivers said. “There will be 20-25 minutes. I asked him if that was OK because that’s the only way it will work. We talked about coming off the bench. It’s very important when you get a guy like Shaq to be up front and honest and tell him where you see he’ll be. If he can accept that he’ll fit our mold.”
Rivers would prefer for Shaq to come off the bench because it would give the second-unit a low-post scorer, something it hasn’t had since Leon Powe was healthy. Rivers prefers to set his lineups and stick with them, but this lineup could present some interesting possibilities.
“I think that Shaquille and Jermaine could play together,” Danny Ainge said. “I think Jermaine and [Kevin Garnett] can play together. One of the things I like is there are interchangeable pieces. Glen Davis and Shaq can play together, Glen Davis and Jermaine can play together. Any of those four combinations can play well together.”
The Celtics contacted Shaq’s representatives on July 1, but weren’t sure that he would agree to their terms. They still didn’t know how it would play out until last week when Shaq’s people told Ainge that they were ready to sign and do it on the Celtics terms. That last part is key to making it work in a locker room with more than its share of outsized personalities.
” The reason we’re bringing in these personalities is because we have a pretty solid locker room with KG, Paul and Ray.,” Rivers said. “We did it last year with Rasheed [Wallace] and now we’re trying to do wit with Shaq. There’s no guarantees though. There never is. Chemistry is a delicate thing. This has to be about the Celtics and it has to be winning. If there’s any other motives or agendas’¦ I was very honest with him, that’s why he’s here.”
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