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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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Read More: Bill Russell, Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers, NBA
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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Read More: Bill Russell, Boston Celtics, Delonte West, President Barack Obama
Kevin Garnett on Bill Russell 02.15.11 at 2:46 pm ET
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Celtics legend Bill Russell was among 15 people awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama on Tuesday, the highest honor the president can bestow on a civilian. Kevin Garnett was asked about Russell and his impact.

“Not only did he transcend on the court, but off the court,” Garnett said. “Being righteous for what he believed in, and speaking up and standing up for that right. Different times back in the day, man. I respect a lot of the OG’€™s just because they went through in order for us to be here today. Bill Russell is everything and I just want to say congratulations.”

Garnett was then asked why players don’t speak as forcibly as Russell once did. He cited the media culture and also noted that players are more cautious.

“I don’€™t think people are as opinionated out loud just because of the uproar they can start,” Garnett said. “These days when you bring out issues that cause attention to not only yourself, but your team, it can be labeled a distraction.”

Garnett had one further thought on Russell and what today’s players can take from him, as well as the great players of the past.

“I don’€™t think we go to the extreme to prove a point or go to the extreme to really remember that this is our league,” Garnett said. “I think those days are over. I think the commissioner has a lot of say on how this league is run. The only way you can sustain a solid league is to carry things over. That’€™s all going to be up to the players.”

Read More: Bill Russell, Kevin Garnett,
Irish Coffee: Why Celtics should earn No. 1 seed 02.14.11 at 1:21 pm ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

Rest up, Celtics, because it doesn’t get any easier than this. The C’s are midway through their most relaxing regular-season stretch of the New Big Three Era in terms of travel.

And never have they needed it more. Seven members of the team’s 15-man roster are battling known injuries as the All-Star break looms, and that doesn’t include Glen Davis‘ bruised noggin, Kevin Garnett‘s rehabbed knee or Rajon Rondo‘s feet.

The good news: The Celtics are in the midst of a 15-day stretch between road games. They played in Charlotte on Feb. 7 and travel to Oakland on Feb. 22. In between, they’ll have played just three home games, all three days apart. Sure, there’s an All-Star Game in between (in Los Angeles) but that’s hardly heavy lifting for Garnett, Rondo, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce (depending on Pierce’s MRI results), especially since Doc Rivers is manning their minutes.

In the previous three seasons, the Celtics’ longest stretch between road games around the All-Star break was seven days. And in the last two seasons, the NBA has sandwiched a pair of road games for the C’s around the All-Star Game — hardly the mini vacation players desire.

The bad news: Since 2007, the Celtics have had three stretches of 15 days or more between road games. This current span is one. The other two have come at an even more ideal time — days before season’s end. Two years ago, the C’ss played five straight home games from March 27 to April 12. Last season, they had six consecutive home contests from March 22 to April 6.

This season, they’ll have no such luck. Starting with a four-game West Coast road trip after the All-Star Game, the Celtics play 17 of their final 28 games on the road, including 10-of-16 to close out the season. However, only 10 of those 28 games come against teams above .500.

With a half-game lead for first place, the Celtics are battling the Heat — and perhaps the Bulls — for the top seed in the Eastern Conference. In all likelihood, nobody will catch the Spurs (45-9) for the league’s best overall record, so we’ll only include the Lakers out West as we take a look at how many of these teams’ post-All-Star break games are against teams above .500:

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Read More: Bill Russell, Boston Celtics, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Garnett
Irish Coffee: Perfect remedy for loss to Lakers 02.11.11 at 11:30 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

Few game films exist of Bill Russell‘s playing days, but a United States Information Agency documentarian by the name of Gary Goldsmith had some rare footage in his vault: Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals between the Celtics and Cincinnati Royals.

The video has since been shown on NBA TV, and SLAM Magazine recently caught with the filmmaker. Goldsmith takes us through the documentary’s process, and the unquestionable highlight of the interview is this aside on a retired Bob Cousy wandering the Garden hallways:

‘€œHe was holding his head in his hands and saying to somebody, ‘€˜We can’€™t lose. If we lose, they’€™ll never let us up. It will be like the Yankees; they’€™ll grind us in to the earth. We’€™ve got to win.’€™ He wasn’€™t saying this to anybody for publication; this was a private comment that he made. It’€™s that sense of how important it was to sustain their championship level. I got a feel for it from moments like that.’€

Part 1 of Goldsmith’s “The Final Game” is embedded in this blog. Be sure to check out Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5 on YouTube. There’s nothing better than watching a game from the last run of the Celtics’ nine consecutive championship seasons to get over a loss to the Lakers.

The time spent is worth it just to hear Red Auerbach‘s incessant chatter from the sidelines:

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Read More: Bill Russell, Boston Celtics, Kobe Bryant, Ray Allen
Irish Coffee: Top 10 last-minute Celtics gifts 12.23.10 at 9:00 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

If you don’t actually play for the Celtics, then you probably can’t afford to buy Christmas presents like a replica of a 1986 NBA championship ring or a Boston Celtics Pop-A-Shot machine for the C’s fans in your life.

So here are the top 10 (fairly) affordable last-minute gift ideas for Celtics fans:

1. Two tickets in sections 306, 327 or 329 to the Celtics vs. Spurs game at the Garden on Jan. 5 ($140)

2. A bottle opener made from the old Boston Garden parquet ($78) and a Rajon Rondo bottle koozie ($7)

 

3. An autographed copy of “Red and Me” by Bill Russell ($125) or an autographed copy of a 1964 Sports Illustrated featuring Tommy Heinsohn on the cover ($105)

 

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Read More: Bill Russell, Boston Celtics, Christmas, NBA
Irish Coffee: Bill Russell on the NBA, Celtics & more 12.07.10 at 10:35 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

(Part 2 of the interview between Bill Russell & Kevin Garnett can be seen here.)

It’s not every day you get the sage advice of Bill Russell, so when it happens, don’t miss it. The Celtics legend needs no introduction, so let’s get to his latest interview, with SLAM Magazine …

RUSSELL on winning: “I think I know a lot about the subject. My college team has the second-longest winning streak in history. My Olympic team still holds the record for greatest margin of victory. And the Celtics were perhaps the best team in the history of American sports. We won eight straight titles and nine of 10 in the decade of the ’60s. To do that against the best basketball players on the planet is remarkable.”

RUSSELL on offense: “To me, I was a better offensive player than a defensive player. By the end of my first year, I always put the offense in motion, and after a year or two almost all the plays went through me. In fact, [John] Havlicek said after I left, he missed me more on offense than on defense.”

RUSSELL on Wilt Chamberlain: “Wilt was an enormously talented man and I wasn’t going to do things that would inspire him to play harder, even if that meant giving him an easy basket here and there. You have to understand, this was a great, great player. And you had to keep things in perspective. He was a guy you couldn’t dominate physically or mentally. You can’t play somebody else’s game and have a chance to win. We had a style when he arrived, and the idea was to maintain that style, because it was successful.

“Wilt’s numbers speak for themselves: 100 points in a game, 27 rebounds averaged in a season! But after he did all these things, Wilt kept on not winning, and people never understood that, so they started criticizing him. But I never did. I thought he was great. Basically, I saw it as he had an agenda and I had an agenda. And we both fulfilled our agendas.”

RUSSELL on racism: “Fans all over the country were racist and obnoxious, some places more and some less, but I never permitted that to have an adverse effect on my playing, and within the Celtics that did not exist.”

RUSSELL on player/coaching:Red [Auerbach] offered me the job first and I said I wasn’t interested. So he asked if I had any recommendations and said that he would not hire anyone who I didn’t approve of 100 percent, because I had meant too much to the franchise. I had some ideas, but we couldn’t work out a deal. Frank Ramsey, who was my first choice, couldn’t leave home. Bob Cousy couldn’t get out of his contract at Boston College and so on. Red came up with one last name, and I just wasn’t going to play for that person, so I decided that I would, in fact, do it.”

RUSSELL on the dynasty: “Last year’s championship is only important in how other teams fear you; you still have to go out and beat everyone again. People say there were better teams than the Celtics, but we set the standard. A given team might come up for a year, but only we could sustain it.”

RUSSELL on mentoring: “When a new big man came into the league, I wanted to make sure they knew I was around, and to establish that there were boundaries that should not be crossed. But I also wanted every player in the league playing as well as possible, because I wanted the league to be totally elite. It always made me feel good to hear people say, “The greatest athletes in the world play in the NBA.'”

RUSSELL on Bob Cousy: “Not only was he a great player, but the things he did were completely in sync with what I did. He would transition from defense to offense as his guy went to the basket, because he knew I’d take care of him. I knew which way he’d force him, and I’d be there waiting while also cutting off his passing lanes. Meanwhile, Bob was heading downcourt, so we’d take control of the offense while the other team still had the ball. Nobody had done that before, because they didn’t have the ingredients, namely a great rebounder and defender to grab the ball and turn it around, and a fast, in-control guard to throw to.”

RUSSELL on his legacy: “Maybe it’s egotism, but I have never seen another player who even approached the way I played the game in terms of depth. I’ve never seen anyone do the number of things I do well.”

So, yeah, I could pretty much sit and listen to Bill Russell talk about how he folds laundry and be completely enthralled. In fact, I might go buy his “Russell Rules” and “Red and Me” audio books on iTunes right now. Paul Flannery was absolutely right: Give Bill Russell a damn statue!

SQUASHING THE INJURY BUG

The Celtics aren’t setting any timetables for the returns of Rajon Rondo, Jermaine O’Neal, Delonte West and Kendrick Perkins from injuries that range from minor to major. Here’s a quick rundown of the latest updates on all four guys …

Rondo (day-to-day via The Boston Globe): Doc Rivers said he might consider sitting Rondo for a stretch of games if needed.

“We get a two-day break after [Sunday’s Nets game], and that’s one of the things that went into this [thinking]. We’re just going to try to get through it.”

Jermaine O’Neal (pre-Christmas return via NECN.com): Considering he hasn’t played in a game since Nov. 8, being off his game [during Monday’s practice] was a given. But just being able to run up the floor, and feel little to no pain afterwards, was yet another indication that he is moving past the left knee injury that has sidelined him for the last 12 games.

“Hopefully in the next week-in-a-half to two weeks, I’ll be playing no problem,” he said.

West (1-2 months away via CSNNE.com): Following surgery on Nov. 30, the outlook for his return has picked up considerably. West said the wrist is healing up so well, there won’t be any need for it to be placed in a hard cast.

“Just stimulate it with treatments, and I’ll be back to working out within the next two weeks,” said West, who added that he’ll have it in a soft cast when he resumes working out.

Perkins (eyeing late February via the Boston Herald): “It can be real,” Perk said of playing sometime late next month, “but I think if I play it smart I’ll wait to come back until after All-Star break. That’ll give me more time. I think, what’s one more month, right?”

SHAQ-A-CLAUS BRINGS HIS ELVES

According to the Inside Track, all of the Celtics showed up at Children’s Hospital Boston and Boston Medical Center on Monday to deliver some Christmas cheer.

They split up, Shaquille O’Neal and Ray Allen tooke one group to Children’s — with O’Neal leading a Shaq Fu-style version of “Frosty the Snowman” among other carols.

Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett took another group with Santa to the Top of the Hub, where they spent some time with the Boston Medical Center’s pediatric hematology program.

Santa hats off to those guys. They’re not just winning on the court.

DOC RIVERS LOSES A MENTOR

Doc Riverscollege basketball coach, Hank Raymonds, 86, died of cancer on Monday morning. Raymonds coached Marquette from 1977-83, mentoring Rivers throughout his life — starting from his time as a player at Marquette from ’80-83 and continuing through last year’s Celtics run.

Rivers expressed his grief with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Here are some nuggets:

“I use Hank’s lines all the time. The line I always use that he used on me a lot is, ‘I’m never going to coach you for who you are today. I’m going to coach you for who you should be someday, and what you should be someday.’ I use that on my players, I use that on my kids, and I think it’s a great thing. To me, that sums Hank up as much as anything.”

“Hank called me every time we would have a bad turnover game or a bad rebounding game. Then when I went to see him [over the summer] the first thing he said was, ‘Oh my gosh, the rebounding — the Lakers killed you guys on the glass.’ I loved to hear it. It’s funny. It’s not what you want to hear, but the one guy who can tell you that is Hank.”

“Hank has had a profound impact. And the thing about Hank is he never let go. It’s not like when I left he stopped. … I look at him, he’s a basketball treasure that really not enough people know about. I’m glad I do. I always laugh and say, ‘He’s my little secret.’ And I’m fine by that.”

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

Read More: Bill Russell, Boston Celtics, Delonte West, Doc Rivers
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