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Impromptu Irish Coffee: The Next Bill Russell? 07.28.11 at 1:58 pm ET
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When someone compares a player to Bill Russell, my usual reaction is a rolling of the eyes, followed by an audible sigh and capped by a sarcastic, “And Harold Miner is the next Michael Jordan.” However, when a member of the Celtics’ front office makes the analogy, that’s an entirely different story.

Nerlens Noel

Celtics senior director of basketball operations Leo Papile — also the Boston Amateur Basketball Club’s director — told Louisville’s Courier-Journal that the current star of his AAU program, Nerlens Noel (great name, by the way), could indeed be the next William Felton Russell:

“No one has ever been compared to Bill Russell, but I said that about this kid when he was in the eighth grade. He has a basketball brain like no other player that I have ever coached. He’s a special kid. …

“He has great timing. Everything he does is just perfect. He passes, his team defense … it’s all just perfect. And now he has an offensive game.”

ESPNU’s No. 3 ranked recruit and top-ranked center in the Class of 2013, Noel led Papile’s BABC team to the Peach Jam title earlier this month and the AAU Super Showcase championship game this past week. This winter, the 6-foot-10, 215-pound Everett native enters his junior season at New Hampshire’s Tilton School.

To put Papile’s statement in perspective, he has worked for the Celtics since 1997 and currently serves as one of the team’s chief talent evaluators at the NBA, D-League, international and collegiate levels. Founding the BABC in 1977, he has helped develop NBA talents like Patrick Ewing and Dana Barros.

So, the real question is: Does the 17-year-old Noel even know who is the greatest winner in professional sports? Read the rest of this entry »

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Transcript of Shaquille O’Neal on D&C: ‘I didn’t want to let the people of Boston down two years in a row’ 06.03.11 at 11:06 am ET
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Shaquille O'Neal (AP)

Future Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal called in to the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning, the day of his scheduled press conference at his Orlando house to formally announce his retirement after one injury-plagued season with the Celtics and 19 years in the NBA.

Asked if this is a happy or sad day, O’Neal said: “A little bit of both. Business-wise, I felt that the Boston organization and the people of Boston treated me very, very well. I could have gotten a little minor surgery and then been out for nine months, but then we would have been in the same situation again, everybody sitting around waiting for me. So, I thought it was great business to let Danny [Ainge] go out and get some younger talent.”

Added O’Neal: “I didn’t want to let the people of Boston down two years in a row.”

Asked if he’s 100 percent certain that he will stay retired, Shaq coyly replied: “For now, yes.”

Following is a transcript of the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

The big question is where does Shaq appear on the Mount Rushmore of big men in the NBA. Is that a question you want to deal with?

I never really deal with it. For me, coming from where I come from, how I was taught to play the game — my father used to mention all those great names to me. Like, “Son, when you block a shot, don’t show off and knock it out of bounds. Keep in inbounds, like the great Bill Russell. Son, I need you to dominate. I need them to change the rules for you like they with Wilt Chamberlain. You know what, son, the jump hook is nice. I need you to shoot the little hook like Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar].”

So, for me to have my name mentioned next to those guys — and you can’t forget Chief, Robert Parish. He was great. too. So, for me to have my name mentioned up there, it’s a blessing.

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Bill Russell to get a statue in Boston 05.04.11 at 3:49 pm ET
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Here is the official Boston Celtics press release in regards to Bill Russell’s planned statue in Boston:

The Boston Celtics Shamrock Foundation in partnership with the newly formed Bill Russell Legacy Committee announced today they will erect a statue of Bill Russell in the city of Boston designed by a local artist.  In commemoration of Russell’s accomplishments as the greatest champion in the history of professional sports, as a national leader in human rights and as a dedicated advocate for youth mentoring, the Bill Russell Legacy Project will also develop a Mentoring Grant program in Russell’s name to ensure his passion is carried on by expanding the resources for mentoring programs in the city of Boston.

Co-chaired by Boston Celtics Managing Partner/Co-owner and President of the Shamrock Foundation Stephen Pagliuca and Boston Philanthropist, Founder of the Sager Family Foundation and Chairman of Polaroid Bobby Sager; the Bill Russell Legacy Committee consists of Karen Russell, Russell’s friends, colleagues and former teammates as well as Mayor Tom Menino and his Administration. The Boston Celtics Shamrock Foundation has established the Bill Russell Legacy Fund to act as the major funding vehicle for the project.

“We are honored to play a role in paying tribute to such an extraordinary athlete, leader and legacy,” Boston Celtics Managing Partner/Co-owner and President of the Shamrock Foundation Stephen Pagliuca said.  “Bill Russell will forever be remembered in Boston, and it’s fitting that the ultimate benefactors of his legacy will be future generations of our beloved city’s youth.”

Mayor Menino, who convened and hosted the first meetings of the Committee, said, “I am so proud to be part of an effort to honor Bill Russell. He is not only one of the greatest champions the sports world has ever seen, he is a man who has stood by and delivered for our young people through his support of mentoring programs. I want all Bostonians and all who work or visit here to recognize Bill Russell and all his accomplishments.”

The Bill Russell Mentoring Grant Program will invest in Boston’s youth by awarding grants annually to local, non-profit, organizations to help increase the number of children in Boston who have access to quality, structured, caring adult mentoring programs.

“I am uncomfortable with honors such as this but my years as Captain of the Boston Celtics were the proudest moments of my career,” Boston Celtics Legend Bill Russell said. “Mayor Menino’s Boston has proven to be a City that embraces the diverse contributions of all its people and neighborhoods. I am thankful to the Celtics and all the contributors for the effort to create such a wonderful Mentoring program.”

In order to facilitate and administer the grant process, the Bill Russell Legacy Project is partnering with Mass Mentoring Partnership, the state affiliate of MENTOR of which Mr. Russell is a board member and the umbrella organization for more than 170 mentoring programs in the state.

To donate to the Bill Russell Legacy Fund and for more information on the project and grant applications, please visit www.billrusselllegacy.org <http://www.billrusselllegacy.org> .

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Irish Coffee: New Celtics, by the numbers 03.02.11 at 11:17 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …

Not that the following numbers definitively prove anything, but I figured it would be interesting to see the career production of the Celtics’ recent acquisitions compared to the departing C’s.

Here are the  combined per-game averages of Troy Murphy, Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic over the course of 1,327 career games …

  • Points: 36.1
  • Rebounds: 19.6
  • Assists: 4.2
  • Steals: 2.0
  • Blocks: 1.7
  • Turnovers: 4.4
  • Personal fouls: 8.3
  • Field-goal percentage: .457
  • 3-point field-goal percentage: .370
  • Free-throw percentage: .767

And here are the  combined per-game averages of Kendrick Perkins, Nate Robinson, Marquis DanielsSemih Erden and Luke Harangody over the course of 1,363 career games …

  • Points: 32.7
  • Rebounds: 16.6
  • Assists: 6.4
  • Steals: 2.7
  • Blocks: 2.7
  • Turnovers: 5.5
  • Personal fouls: 10.8
  • Field-goal percentage: .471
  • 3-point field-goal percentage: .327
  • Free-throw percentage: .703

With three players coming to Boston and five guys leaving town, the Celtics are acquiring more points, rebounds and assists in addition to fewer turnovers and personal fouls. Although, cynics could argue that those same numbers favor the former Celtics’s defensive toughness – as that group recorded more steals, blocks and personal fouls.

Should the Celtics add either Corey Brewer, Rasual Butler or Player X, those stats would push the numbers even further in the current Celtics’ favor. Speaking of which …

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Irish Coffee: LeBron James, wrong again 02.24.11 at 12:03 pm ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …

After the Celtics defeated the Heat for the third time this season, I had a conversation with a friend of mine who’s also an avid NBA fan, and we came up with a theory that LeBron James has Michael Jackson Syndrome.

Essentially, he’s been so famous from a such a young age that he has no idea what normal people do in their everyday lives — much less any concept of what those people think about him. That’s why he says stuff like this:

“Everybody’s bringing their talents to the East,” James said. “It’s going to be fun. We came here to team up, and we knew we were starting a trend. Teams are going to have to load up because the competition level is rising.”

Did he really bring up the “bringing their talents” garbage again? For the past eight months, everyone and their mother has mocked LeBron’s infamous “I’m taking my talents to South Beach” quote from his idiotic Decision ordeal. Even Paul Pierce gave him a jab, tweeting, “It’s been a pleasure to bring my talents ot South Beach” after another Celtics win over the Heat.

It’s as though James still doesn’t recognize that he’s been the butt of that joke for almost a year. That’s why James does stuff like blame the negative reaction to The Decision on racism, tweet “Karma is a bitch” when the Cavaliers get blown out by the Lakers and wear an “LBJ MVP” t-shirt after his team gets bounced from the playoffs. He has Michael Jackson Syndrome.

As for his second point — that his Heat started this trend of stars joining forces — not everybody agrees with him on that one, either (shocking, I know) – Amare Stoudemire included:

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Irish Coffee: Too many minutes for Celtics to win it? 02.18.11 at 1:06 pm ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …

In my mind, seven teams could potentially win the 2011 NBA championship: the Celtics, Spurs, Lakers, Heat, Bulls, Mavericks and Thunder. Four of those teams — the C’s, Spurs, Lakers and Mavericks — have veteran-laden rotations, so which coaches are doing the best job this season of managing the minutes logged on their top players’ aging bodies before the All-Star break?

Let’s look at those four teams’ top six players, their ages and their minutes logged …

Boston Celtics
Average Age: 30.1 years
Average Games Played: 43.5
Average Minutes Per Game: 33.5 (8,746 total)
Percent of Team’s Total Minutes: 67.1

Rajon Rondo (24 years, 361 days): 1,622 minutes; 37.7 minutes per game
Ray Allen (35 years, 213 days): 1,948 min; 36.1 mpg
Paul Pierce (33 years, 128 days): 1,881 min; 34.8 mpg
Kevin Garnett (34 years, 275 days): 1,409 min; 31.3 mpg
Glen Davis (25 years, 48 days): 1,585 min; 29.4 mpg
Kendrick Perkins (26 years, 100 days): 301 min; 27.4 mpg

***

San Antonio Spurs
Average Age: 29.4
Average Games Played: 55.0
Average MPG: 29.0 (9,562 total)
Percent of Team’s Total Minutes: 70.8

Tony Parker (28 years, 277 days): 1,826 min; 32.6 mpg
Richard Jefferson (30 years, 242 days): 1,752 min; 31.3 mpg
Manu Ginobili (33 years, 205 days): 1,738 min; 31.0 mpg
Tim Duncan (34 years, 299 days): 1,609 min; 28.7 mpg
George Hill (24 years, 290 days): 1,393 min; 27.9 mpg
DeJuan Blair (21 years, 302 days): 1,244 min; 22.2 mpg

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Irish Coffee: President Obama wants Bill Russell statue in Boston 02.16.11 at 11:58 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …


(NOTE: Between the 16:30 and 18:30 marks, President Obama speaks about Bill Russell; at the 35-minute mark, Russell receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom)

In a brilliant article in Boston Magazine, WEEI.com’s Paul Flannery stated the case for a statue in Bill Russell‘s honor in the streets of Boston. On Tuesday, President Barack Obama hopped on Flannery’s bandwagon. The following is a transcript of President Obama’s remarks as he awarded Russell the Presidential Medal of Freedom:

When Bill Russell was in junior high, he was cut from his basketball team. He got better after that. He led the University of San Francisco to two championships. In 13 seasons with the Boston Celtics, he won 11 championships — a record unmatched in any sport. Won two while also serving as the team’s coach. And so happens, he also was the first African-American ever to hold such a position as a coach in a major league sports team of any sort. More than any athlete of his era, Bill Russell came to define the word “winner.”

And yet, whenever someone looks up at all 6 feet, 9 inches of Bill Russell — I just did; I always feel small next to him — and asks, “Are you a basketball player?” — surprisingly, he gets this more than you think, this question — he says, “No.” He says, “That’s what I do, that’s not what I am. I’m not a basketball player. I am a man who plays basketball.”

Bill Russell, the man, is someone who stood up for the rights and dignity of all men. He marched with King; he stood by Ali. When a restaurant refused to serve the black Celtics, he refused to play in the scheduled game. He endured insults and vandalism, but he kept on focusing on making the teammates who he loved better players, and made possible the success of so many who would follow. And I hope that one day, in the streets of Boston, children will look up at a statue built not only to Bill Russell the player, but Bill Russell the man.

In honor of Russell receiving the highest civilian award given in the United States, The Boston Globe discussed Russell’s impact on and off the basketball court with Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino as well as Celtics legends Tommy Heinsohn and Bob Cousy, who spanned nine of Russell’s 13 seasons and nine of his 11 title runs:

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