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Irish Coffee: Kobe Bryant on his admiration of Austin Rivers, love of Rob Gronkowsi and ignorance of Jeremy Lin 02.10.12 at 8:52 am ET
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Despite his team emerging victors by an ugly 88-87 margin in an overtime game, Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant sounded more impressed by the Celtics than his own squad when asked if the two once great and now aging championship clubs mirrored one another.

“I don’t know,” said Bryant, who finished with 25 points on 24 shots. “They’ve got three Hall of Famers and a fourth one coming. That don’t look too familiar to me over here.”

Not only did Bryant sound off about his own teammates, but he pulled no punches on the topics of Rob Gronkowski, Austin Rivers and Jeremy Lin (particularly priceless stuff), among other subjects thrown his way. The following are highlights from the Black Mamba’s postgame interview.

Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant called Ray Allen and the Celtics "old school." (AP)

ON THE CELTICS

“We know each other so well. The unit we had on the floor, and their unit — we’ve played against each other so many darn times. We know what’s coming before it happens.”

[Asked again about the rivalry:] “It’s always a brawl in every fight. It’s ugly. It’s physical. I’ve enjoyed competing against them. I like all of them personally. On the court, that personal stuff goes out the window. It’s been fun.”

[And again:] “It’s a throwback in the sense that we’re old school. Ray [Allen] is old school. Paul [Pierce] is old school. Kevin [Garnett] is old school. And so is Rajon [Rondo]. How we prepare for the game, how much the game means to us, you can see the emotion that they pour into it, how much they put into the game, you don’t really see that too much from the young guys nowadays.”

[And again:] “It’s been great. It’s been a dream come true growing up and watching it. Here I am part of it. It’s great. The only difference between us and the ‘80s is that guys over there in the other locker room I actually know and like. That’s the big difference between this time around and the ‘80s.”

[And again:] “They’ve been playing extremely well. They’ve won nine out of their last 10 games coming into tonight, so they’re figuring things out obviously. Us, we’re still searching. It’s a whole new system. We’re trying to figure things out still. You kind of see it on the court. You kind of see things that are kind of botched plays every now and then, miscommunication now and then, because we’re kind of practicing things on the fly. But all in all, we’ll be Ok. Both of us will.”

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Duke’s Austin Rivers hits buzzer beater against UNC 02.09.12 at 9:10 am ET
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I’m not sure what’s better: The deadeye 3-pointer Duke freshman Austin Rivers made against rival North Carolina to beat the buzzer or Doc’s reaction. Now, the coach’s Celtics host the Lakers. A good week for the Rivers family.

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Irish Coffee: Austin Rivers ‘would be great for’ Celtics, says Doc 01.19.12 at 12:51 pm ET
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At the tail end of Doc Rivers‘ weekly interview on WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan Morning Show (click here to listen in full), the Celtics coach opened up about the possibility of coaching his son Austin Rivers in the NBA.

“I would love the opportunity, I guess,” said Rivers. “It would be uncomfortable. I just think that would be a strange thing to do. Having that said that, I wouldn’t mind. He can score, and I think that would be great for us.”

The best prep guard in the country as a high school senior last winter, Austin Rivers averages a team-leading 13.8 points per game for No. 4 ranked Duke this season, shooting 43.6 percent from the field and 37.7 percent from beyond the arc. Once projected as a surefire lottery pick, his stock has slipped to No. 21 on ESPN draft analyst Chad Ford‘s Top 100 NBA prospects list. So, what must improve for him to have an impact at the next level?

“Just his whole game,” said the elder Rivers, who despite running practices for their teams once or twice has never coached his four kids. “I think he can score in this league right now. I don’t think he could have any problem with that. I think defensively — just the knowledge on the weak side of the ball — is where he would have to improve.”

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10 Things I Heard About Celtics IV 08.30.11 at 12:26 pm ET
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On another slow Celtics news day, there’s still plenty to learn about Boston’s green men. Here are 10 more C’s links of interest we discovered over the past few days (“10 Things I Heard About Celtics” III and III) …

10. The success of the 1985-86 Celtics (67-15; 40-1 home; 15-3 playoffs) stemmed from not only talent but intellectualism, according to this recent NBA.com puff piece. The team featured six future NBA head coaches: Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Dennis Johnson, Danny Ainge, Rick Carlisle and Sam Vincent. Not to mention quote machine Bill Walton. Here’s what McHale and Walton had to say on the subject …

  • Kevin McHale: “We had a lot of guys on that team who really knew the game and understood what it took and what it meant to play it the right way. I kinda took it for granted, thinking that was the way everybody played, because I had been around guys with the Celtics where everyone understood that. I probably realized for the first time that it wasn’t that way everywhere when Danny Ainge told me that other people couldn’t totally change their game plans during a timeout and then go right out onto the floor and execute it. It was after Danny got traded to Sacramento and he said that if that team didn’t work on something in practice for three days, there was no way they could do it in a game. We could devise a whole new scheme in a timeout and then just go do it. I guess everybody on that Celtics team just had a good basketball mind.”
  • Bill Walton: “Everyone constantly thought basketball. Everyone always played a mental game. Even though we were a team that physically had the tools necessary to be at highest level of the game, it was the mental edge that allowed that team to be so special.”

9. Reason No. 893 Celtics guard Ray Allen is cool: While every other NBA player is seemingly shopping himself overseas or making headlines in exhibition games against questionable competition, the 3-point king works on his golf game as if it were just another off-season.

Golfer Natalie Gulbis will join Celtics guard Ray Allen in a charity golf tournament next week.

Last month, Allen played in Lake Tahoe. Two weeks ago, in Connecticut. Next week, in New Jersey at the Liberty Cup Charity Golf Tournament with golfer Natalie Gulbis and “Desperate Housewives” star Kyle MacLachlan. All for charity.

I guess that’s why Allen was cast as Jesus Shuttlesworth in “He Got Game” and not someone like Kobe Bryant (interesting tidbit: Kevin Garnett and Stephon Marbury were reportedly approached for that role, but their agent wanted a guarantee that one of them would get the part).

8. As we’ve discussed previously, Austin Rivers and his Duke basketball teammates are traveling China and the United Arab Emirates, crushing every team in their path. Celtics head coach Doc Rivers is also with the team to watch his son make fools out of people internationally. Dubai newspaper Gulf News caught up with the pair that hopes to soon become the third father-son NBA duo in history (Jan Van Breda Kolff and Butch Van Breda Kolff; Mike Dunleavy Sr. and Mike Dunleavy Jr.). Here’s what Doc had to say about his son and vice versa … Read the rest of this entry »

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10 Things I Heard About Celtics II 08.16.11 at 12:07 pm ET
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On another slow Celtics news day, there’s still plenty to learn about Boston’s green men. Here are 10 more C’s links of interest we discovered over the past 24 hours (the first “10 Things I Heard About Celtics” is here) …

10. As SLAM noted, Celtics free agents and Louisiana natives Glen Davis and Von Wafer both made the top five plays from this past weekend’s Tournament of the Stars Basketball Clinic in Lake Charles, La. Big Baby’s post-clutch-3-pointer “big balls” dance is an instance classic, as is Wafer’s posterization. Both players would like to remain in Boston once the NBA lockout ends, and Wafer has already signed a one-year deal to play in Italy.

Celtics captain Paul Pierce tweeted this photo from his fishing trip this past weekend.

9. While every other NBA player tosses his name into the overseas rumor mill, Celtics captain Paul Pierce is content with his hobbies on vacation. Lakers guard Kobe Bryant‘s agents have been busy shopping him everywhere from China to Brazil, but Pierce can’t get enough poker, fishing and scheduling volunteer work — promoting his Truth on Health campaign on HGTV by making over his hometown Inglewood (Calif.) High’s athletic facilities on Aug. 20 and bowling with Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett and Celtics free agent Glen Davis in the 5th Annual Beckett Bowl on Aug. 29.

Of course, Pierce will play overseas — for his country. He and Timberwolves forward Michael Beasley will help form a United States All-Star team at the Continental Club Championships in Beijing from Aug. 20-28. Somehow I doubt Pierce will be earning $375,000 or whatever it is Bryant is seeking per week for his China sojourn. Read the rest of this entry »

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Doc’s son Austin Rivers is still pretty unbelievable 08.11.11 at 12:35 pm ET
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The oft-highlighted run of Duke University’s No. 1 recruit Austin Rivers — son of Celtics head coach Doc Rivers — finally came to an end at the Greater NC Pro-Am (aka, “Rucker of the South”), but not before he entered a few more highlights into the fray. First, he dunked on former Celtics forward Rasheed Wallace. Then, he made NC State’s Lorenzo Brown look ridiculous. Now? Austin just makes everyone look silly. I mean, the two crossover spin moves in the embedded video are absurd.

All of which made me wonder: Why didn’t the Celtics just spend the No. 55 second-round pick they used to select E’Twaun Moore on Austin Rivers, wait for him to play one season at Duke and sign him in 2012 — a la Larry Bird in 1978? Read the rest of this entry »

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Doc Rivers to Austin Rivers: ‘Never settle’ 07.18.11 at 11:55 am ET
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Austin Rivers competes in the slam dunk contest at the McDonald's High School All American basketball Jam Fest at Chicago State University in Chicago, Monday, March 28, 2011.

Austin Rivers continues to illustrate his brilliance on the court. (AP)

After dunking over former Celtics forward Rasheed Wallace twice during his debut at the SJG Greater NC Pro-Am (a.k.a “The Rucker of the South”), Duke University’s No. 1 basketball recruit and son of Celtics coach Doc Rivers, Austin Rivers, continued to put on a dazzling display of moves at the event, which includes high school graduates, college players, current NBA players and former pros. His latest victim, thanks to a Tim Hardaway-esque killer crossover: NC State’s Lorenzo Brown (see embedded video).

Also, SLAM Magazine sat down with Austin Rivers at the NC-Pro Am, and the nation’s No. 1 player in the Class of 2011 explained his father’s advice …

  • SLAM: What is the one thing that you’ve learned the most from  your father (Celtics coach Doc Rivers)?
  • AR: “Just never to settle, man. There have been so many kids that have talent that have just stopped getting better. That’s one of the reasons that I have been ranked amongst the top players for so long. Even when I was ranked No. 3 in the country, that really bothered me because I always want to be the best. You can rank me 100 or 1, but I’m always going to work to be the best. That’s the main thing that my dad taught me: Never settle.”

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