|Mutombo couldn’t wait for Celtics||01.07.09 at 5:13 pm ET|
Dikembe Mutombo wanted to play for the Boston Celtics. The problem is, he wasn’t sure how much the Celtics wanted him to play for them. Mutombo was on the list of rumored possible mid-season acquisitions and the big man was on board to play with the champs. But the Celtics weren’t ready to commit and Mutombo, 42, didn’t feel like waiting around any longer.
Prior to Tuesday’s Celtics-Rockets game, he explained why he went back to Houston on New Year’s Eve:
“In the last minutes, especially on the 24th and 25th, I was feeling like I was not the only one in the picture no more that they were looking at,” he said. “It kind of discouraged me a little bit. I said ok, I have about seven organizations here that want me and this organization that I want to go to, I thought they wanted me but they’re looking at somebody else. Should I be on the waiting list or should I just go take another offer that was there on the table? And I think by having a talk that night with Yao and T-Mac and calling me on the phone saying, please come on man. We want you here. I was like ok. Let me just go be with guys who are talking to me who want me to be part of their family than wait for the organization who are waiting on their decision making. I think they were in between. They were looking at, I heard about Alonzo (Mourning), then I heard about Joe Smith, then I heard about P.J. Brown. I was like ok, I’m not going to be in the middle of this. I just have to walk away the way I want to walk. I wanted to come to your cold city, but they did not want me.”
This is Mutombo’s 18th season in the NBA. He has a career average of 9.9 points and 10.4 rebounds per game.
|Are the Celtics in trouble?||01.06.09 at 9:45 pm ET|
The Boston Celtics knew there would be a target on their backs this season. But the threats sounded empty after winning 19 straight and blowing out their opponents in embarrassing fashion. Eventually, though, the rest of the league began to fight back. The Los Angeles Lakers were the first to take a stand. The Golden State Warriors followed suit and soon the Portland Trail Blazers, New York Knicks and Charlotte Bobcats wanted in. (CLICK HERE for a recap of Tuesday’s loss to the Bobcats.)
For every game the Celtics win, there is an opponent circling their next meeting. The problem is, the Celtics can’t mark every game as their biggest and defending their title is taking a toll on them. They are 2-5 since losing to the Lakers on Christmas Day and holes in the roster are being exposed. The once unstoppable Rajon Rondo has been contained by big men. The bench that was supposed to compensate for the loss of James Posey has blown numerous leads. Final minutes that used to be garbage time are now seconds of desperation.
December 25, 2008: Lakers 92, Celtics 83
The Celtics made the Lakers look soft last season during the NBA Finals. The Lakers got payback by snapping the Celtics’ 19-game winning streak on Christmas Day, challenging the Celtics to test them again for the title. Phil Jackson inspired other coaches to put their bigs on Rondo, which stifled the Cs soaring offense.
December 26, 2008: Warriors 99, Celtics 89
The Warriors kicked the Celtics while they were down and handed them their second consecutive loss of the season in Oakland. It was a rude awakening that offered a reminder that, no matter what kind of advantage the Celtics have on paper, stats can’t compensate for the motivation of their opponents.
December 30, 2008: Trail Blazers 91, Celtics 86
The Brandon Roy-less Trail Blazers forced the Celtics to make bad plays and dealt Boston its first loss in Portland in four years. The Celtics were outrebounded by 15 in a sloppy defensive effort.
January 4, 2009: Knicks 100, Celtics 88
Thirty points from Al Harrington served as a reminder to the Cs of what a deep bench can do for you. The Celtics were simply outhustled and there was no secret who wanted this win more.
January 6, 2009: Bobcats 114, Celtics 106 (OT)
The Celtics practically welcomed the Bobcats into the paint with open arms early on to jumpstart this loss. They forced far too many shots from long range (6-23 3PG) and did not hit enough from the line (22-30 FT). This game affirmed the concern that the Celtics have work to do.
As long as the Celtics wear the rings, they will also wear a target. It is an inevitable struggle they will have to overcome if they want to face the same curse next season.
|Destination Championship: Why Boston has become a hotspot for NBA vets||01.03.09 at 9:53 pm ET|
Come to Boston and win, that’s how the Celtics organization is seen by many around the NBA. It has become a paradise of victory, a hotspot for veterans who want a legitimate shot at a championship. But it is also a place where selfishness and egos are checked at the door. Personal accolades mean nothing unless the team wins.
So what makes the Celtics, who downplay individual achievements, so much more appealing to vets than other teams who celebrate superstardom? Why settle for blending in when you could stand out next to Kobe Bryant or LeBron James? For those who have made the sacrifices, the explanation is very simple.
“Coming here you get to fit in and be a cog in the wheel,” Ray Allen said. “It’s not about any one individual here on this team. We play together and we beat teams together. We lose together. Everything is together.”
Over the past few weeks the Celtics have been named as possible destinations for veterans Stephon Marbury, Robert Horry, and Dikembe Mutombo, among others. Even though they could have a legitimate shot of winning all with the Los Angeles Lakers or Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston has been a primary destination in the rumor mill.
“I think what’s appealing is that we play together. We have three stars and they actually play together and I think that shows more,” said head coach Doc Rivers. “But honestly I think they would play with Kobe as well and I think they would play with LeBron as well. We may be more aggressive in the market, let’s say, than some of those teams. And maybe we’re not. I think they would play for any of them. At least I would if I were the player.”
Eight-year vet Eddie House, who has signed two contracts in two years with the Celtics, can understand why these players would be interested in Boston. The journeyman had already played with plenty of big names before — Elton Brand, Steve Nash, and Jason Kidd, to name a few – and was lured back by selflessness rather than headliners.
“When you’re playing with one guy then the ball’s dominated by one guy,” House explained. “Here, you’ve got a group of guys who like to share the basketball, who can take the load if they’re asked to take the load. They aren’t depended on the take the load, but if they are asked to take the load that night they will do it.
“But for the most part, it’s very unselfish and it’s not a ‘me’ attitude. With those guys (Bryant and James) it’s more so they have to dominate the ball and you have to play off of them. To where these guys will get you the ball and play with you, instead of you playing off of them.”
The Celtics are set apart from the rest of the league by more than just their trophy. The success of Allen, Kevin Garnett, and Paul Pierce sent the message that being the superstar doesn’t guarantee being the best. It was only when these vets took a step back that they won it all.
“The point of us coming together last year, we were at a point in our lives, in our careers where we were somewhat content with what we had done individually,” Allen said. “We could continue at that pace and finish our careers out that way being a great scorer on a team that never won. But if we didn’t [let go] of our egos and come together, we would have been doing that for the rest of our careers. That’s why, at that time, it seemed like it was a great moment for all of our careers. And I think there’s that progression for most athletes.”
Should the Celtics make any mid-season moves, they already know how to adapt to new additions. Last season veterans P.J. Brown emerged from semi-retirement and Sam Cassell accepted a buyout from the Los Angeles Clippers for the prospect of a ring. These acquisitions could have rattled the Celtics, but those already on the team didn’t see less playing time. They saw a better shot at the title.
“The late in the season addition when you’re already the number one team, you could have some grumbles about that and guys might not welcome guys in,” House said. “But everybody knew this is a business and not only is this a business, but we were on a mission to a hang a banner in the rafters. So we had to accept what was going on for the greater good.”
39-year-old Cassell re-signed with the Cs fully aware that he could be inactive the entire season. At this stage in his career, he doesn’t need 20 minutes per game to be happy.
“It’s about winning,” he said. “For me, I don’t know what [other veterans'] agendas are, but for me it was about winning. I just got a nice taste of winning so I just wanted to win. This was the best opportunity for me to win again.”
As long as the Celtics continue to win with their unselfish play, Boston will stay on the map for veterans who want to capture a championship without having to do it all on their own.
“We welcome the help,” Allen said. “Our egos, we’re pretty selfless here on this team when it comes to playing basketball. We just want to win.”
The door is open for eager vets, just as long as they leave their egos behind.
|Sounds of the game… Celtics 108, Wizards 83||at 12:57 am ET|
The Celtics had just come off a rare stretch in which they not only lost three of four on the West Coast but didn’t play very well in the process. Well, nothing like the six-win Washington Wizards on your home court to serve as the perfect tonic. Friday night, Paul Pierce came out and made his first nine shots from the floor and the Celtics went from one-on-one basketball that cost them dearly in Portland to passing the ball around and sharing the wealth. Rajon Rondo had 14 of Boston’s 31 assists on the night and the big men help the Celtics outrebound the Wizards, 47-35, with Kendrick Perkins hauling in 10.
|Cassell: I’m cool with it||01.02.09 at 9:24 pm ET|
The buzz surrounding the Boston Celtics interest in Stephon Marbury lends itself to a pressing question — what does this mean for Sam Cassell? The 39-year-old point guard has yet to play a minute this season and is biding his time coaching the reserves from the bench. It’s no secret that Cassell has bigger plans after basketball, so what does he think about a possible acquisition that could bump him from the roster?
“I’m here to do what this team asks me to do,” Cassell said. “I’ve had a great career and I’m cool with it. Whatever the team needs from me. I want to coach. I’m almost 40-years-old … so it’s going to happen sooner or later. Either this year or next year.”
But just because Cassell is up for whatever helps the Celtics, that doesn’t mean he’s ready to hang up his sneakers today. Cassell said there is no agreement between he and the Cs that he’ll step down during the season.
“No not at all. There’s nothing unwritten in this league,” he said. “I’m a part of this team til the end.”
Marbury Speculation Heats Up – By Paul Flannery
Does Marbury Want to Start? – By Jessica Camerato
Stephon Marbury on Celtics’ Radar – By Jeff Goodman
Horry Interested in Celtics – By Jessica Camerato
|Celtics-Wizards Game Blog: Fourth Quarter||at 7:22 pm ET|
The fourth quarter kicks off with New England Patriots QB Matt Cassel helping Lucky out with a slam dunk. The standing ovation was so loud there was no telling the Pats has been eliminated from the playoffs.
- It’s garbage time with both second units on the court. Davis/Powe/TA/House/Pruitt vs. McGee/Songalia/Crittenton/Young/Dixon.
- Pruitt and Young were college teammates at USC. Young was a first rounder in the 2007 Draft, Pruitt went at #32. So far Young has seen more playing time but Pruitt has a ring, so you take your pick.
- The Garden is still surprisingly packed with the Celtics up 90-62 halfway through the fourth quarter. After a 1-3 road trip, the fans can’t get enough of winning again.
- Gino’s on … O’Bryant’s in … it’s almost closing time.
- After yesterday’s talking-to at practice, O’Bryant’s alley-oop dunk got KG to his feet.
- Teammates no more: Pruitt got swatted to the ground by Etan Thomas. Young walked by … and kept on going. It’s true, basketball is a business.
- The nail is officially in the coffin. Scal hit a trey with three minutes to go, putting the Celtics over the 100-point mark.
- Final score: Celtics 108, Wiz 83
|Horry Interested in Celtics||at 12:39 pm ET|
A few weeks after WEEI.com’s Jeff Goodman told how Stephon Marbury is on the Boston Celtics’ radar, another NBA vet is reportedly eyeing the Cs as well. The Sacramento Bee has reported Robert Horry has added the Celtics to his list of possible destinations should he play again this season.
Robert Horry – after previously saying he would consider playing only for the Spurs, Rockets or Mavericks because they are likely playoff teams close to his Houston home or Orlando because he could take his kids to Disney World – has not ruled out the Celtics.
While many vets come to Boston in appreciation of the organization’s storied history, Horry hasn’t always been in awe of their past championship squads. In 2007 Horry bragged that his title-winning San Antonio Spurs could beat both the Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers teams from the 80s.
Horry is an authority on all things NBA championships, and Big Shot Bob had a message about his San Antonio Spurs for the great Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics teams of the 1980s.
“We would beat them,” he boasted.
If Horry were to land in Boston, he would need a crash course in Celtic Pride.
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