|Irish Coffee: Bill Russell, basketball’s grandfather||02.19.13 at 12:31 pm ET|
I was 12 years old when my grandfather died, and I never really got to ask him about playing for Passaic (N.J.) High’s “Wonder Team,” owners of the longest win streak (159 games) in prep basketball history and entrants into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, or about playing for Rutgers, where he apparently also took part in a handful of exhibition games under an assumed name for $25 a night. This was the 1920s, before the NBA.
So, when Bill Simmons interviewed Bill Russell, basketball’s grandfather, on NBA TV Monday, it made me feel profoundly nostalgic, jealous and robbed of so many great tales of my own basketball ancestry. But mainly I just felt lucky that we all still have this great link to Celtics past. Heck, to American history. And we should cherish that.
Russell shared captivating story after captivating story. His admiration of his father Charles, who raised his playwright brother Charlie L. and him while working for decades in an Oakland foundry. His belief he would never have played in the NBA if he hadn’t been traded from the “overwhelmingly racist” city of St. Louis in 1956 to Boston for future Hall of Famers Ed Macauley and Cliff Hagan. His quiet first meeting with a young Kansas freshman named Wilt Chamberlain. His pavement of the road to professional players’ unions and big contracts, like the $100,001 one he signed in 1965 — one more dollar than Chamberlain’s deal. His support of Muhammad Ali during the heavyweight champ’s conscientious objection to the Vietnam War. And so on and so on.
He was fascinating. Here are 11 great quotes from the interview, one for every title he won for the Celtics.
|Bill Simmons on D&C: ‘I don’t know’ what Celtics are now||04.04.11 at 10:37 am ET|
ESPN’s Bill Simmons appeared on the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning to discuss the Celtics’ playoff prospects and reflect on the Kendrick Perkins trade. To hear the interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Simmons said that if Shaquille O’Neal can’t return after straining his right calf Sunday, he can’t see the Celtics winning it all.
“They can’t win,” Simmons said. “I mean, part of this Perkins trade was that you had to keep your fingers crossed that you were either going to get Shaq and Jermaine [O'Neal] or one of them or pieces of both of them or whatever. And those guys aren’t involved. There are too many teams that have size that they’re probably going to have to come across at some point, especially because it just seems like the Lakers are going to be there now. They’re just not big enough to beat the Lakers.”
Simmons said he wasn’t entirely opposed to the Perkins trade at the time it was made, but that it’s now easy to see it wasn’t a good move.
“I thought it was a trade that made sense on paper, which is what I wrote,” Simmons said. “It was because they had this huge hole behind [Paul] Pierce and [Ray] Allen. … But it was one of those things where they just moved from one hole to another hole. Now they don’t have to worry about Pierce and Allen getting into foul trouble or putting a ton of miles on them or whatever, but now they have this other hole.
“I didn’t even fully realize after they made the trade how much it was going to affect our identity,” Simmons continued. “I worried about it, but it’s really affected their identity. I think the one thing we’ve learned over the last month is that these guys really bought into that whole, whether it was stupid or not, nobody had ever beaten them in a playoff series when they were healthy. And that was something they fed off.”
Simmons said the trade doesn’t help the Celtics long term, either. “The part that nobody mentions with the Perkins trade is that they’re talking about how they want to get younger — Jeff Green and moving forward and all that kind of stuff,” he said. “Where are they going to find a young center three years from now or two years from now? There’s not a ton of centers out there. So in a way, you’re in the same type of hole you would’ve been in trying to get younger anyway.”
|Bill Simmons on D&C: Heat ‘not ready’ to win Eastern Conference||10.26.10 at 4:17 pm ET|
Bill Simmons joined the Dennis & Callahan show Tuesday morning to discuss the Celtics’ heavily hyped season-opener against the Heat. Simmons talked about LeBron James and his new crew in Miami and how the Big Three in South Beach will fare this season.
He also talked about the Celtics’ chances for success in the 2010-11 season. Simmons said that Paul Pierce is the player the team could least afford to lose.
“Pierce is the guys who can guard the other small forward, the guy who can take over a little bit at the end of the game. I even think they could survive a Rondo injury. … Pierce is the guy who they’d really feel it.”
Below are some highlights from the interview. To listen to the full audio visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Do you buy into the corporate lie that the Celtics are telling, that the regular season really means more to them this year than it did last year, because hell, had they won five or six more games in the regular season, the seventh game [of the NBA finals] would have been in Boston last year? Isn’t this an aging veteran team that just needs to get to the playoffs healthy?
That’s a good question, John Dennis. I don’t believe them. I do think the one difference between last year’s team and this year’s team is they have a bench. And when you have a bench, you can win games that maybe — last year’s team, the starters, they didn’t show up, the team was not going to win. And I think you’ll see when Delonte [West] comes back — I’ve got to say I was shocked by how good Delonte looked in the preseason. I thought out of everything I watched, that was the one thing I didn’t expect.
He just was bad last year. Obviously, it started out with him riding on a motorcycle with guns, and he got suspended and missed preseason and just was never what he was in 2008, when he was the second-best player on a team that almost bear the Celtics. I think that he is back to where he was, from what I saw. And when you see him and Nate [Robinson] come off the bench, I actually think that’s a backcourt that can swing a game for six, seven minutes. Then you throw in Big Baby [Glen Davis], who’s in fantastic shape. I’m not crazy about Jermaine O’Neal, obviously, but if he’s your 10th man, that’s not a terrible thing.
I just think the difference with last year vs. this year is Paul Pierce can go 5-for-19 in Detroit or Philly or wherever and they can still win the game because they have other guys.
|Simmons on D&C: Officiating is the headline of finals||06.10.10 at 10:39 am ET|
ESPN columnist Bill Simmons joined the Dennis & Callahan show on Thursday morning and talked about the quick turnaround from Game 2 in Los Angeles to Game 3 in Boston, the inconsistencies of the officials, and the sloppiness of both teams in the series.
Following are some highlights. To hear the interview, click on the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
On Game 3:
I was worried about Game 3 because it was 48 hours after Game 2, cross country trip, and it just seemed like, “Uh oh, this is going to be bad.” If you look at what happened in the game, Kobe [Bryant] had a bad game, [Paul] Pierce and [Ray] Allen both had bad games, the only old guy who had a good game was [Kevin Garnett] and KG didn’t play a lot in Game 2 because he was in foul trouble. My biggest fear about this whole series is that they just wasted an epic KG game and I’m not sure how many he has.
On the inconsistency of the officials:
I think for the most part in the finals, the right team is going to win each game. That’s what bothered me about Game 3 was basically both teams didn’t play well and it came down to officiating. If we’ve learned anything from the Celtics team this year, for whatever reason, the officiating determines how they’re going to do. … It just seems like so many things are predicated on how the officials decide beforehand, “This is what we’re going to do tonight.”
That’s my biggest problem with NBA officiating. Why can’t they just call it the same way every game? … Should we go to a system where there’s just three refs for the entire finals, the same three every game. There just has to be a better solution. Read the rest of this entry »
|Simmons: 12 Celtics-Bulls Subplots||04.23.09 at 2:27 pm ET|
Two games in, Bill Simmons is already dubbing the 2009 Celtics-Bulls matchup as one of the best first round series ever played. In his most recent column he explored the scenario of “An aging/injured/exhausted/depleted heavyweight (Boston) fights off a hungry young challenger that’s clearly coming into its own (Chicago).” Simmons examined 12 subplots of the series, ultimately resting it all in the hands of Ray Allen. (But not before sneaking in a jab against Joakim Noah.) Click here to read the column.
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