|O’Bryant Spreads Holiday Cheer||12.23.08 at 11:29 pm ET|
This week Boston Celtics big man Patrick O’Bryant spread holiday cheer to a deserving local family. He was inspired by his community outreach during Thanksgiving and requested to be paired up with a family from the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (MSPCC).
“We went bowling, played pool and ping pong, and had food,” O’Bryant said. “Then I came to them at the end and said, ‘Oh yeah, I have one more surprise for you.’ There was a big tree in the back.”
O’Bryant, 22, purchased over 100 gifts, including clothes, Nintendo DS systems, and gift cards to Walmart and IKEA. Bergeson individually wrapped each present, something O’Bryant thought was important for every child.
“That’s the point,” he said. “You get to wake up in the morning and see all the gifts and you get to have the fun of ripping everything off and destroying the paper.”
What was the best part of the day?
“It wasn’t even what they said. It was just seeing their smiles and how exuberant they were. One of the girls was almost screaming when she opened her gifts,” O’Bryant said. “We’ve been blessed with so much and not everybody gets to go through this. I figured if I was blessed with this I could help someone out and bless them with at least gifts for Christmas.”
|Sure they’re great but…||at 8:57 pm ET|
Call it sour grapes, call it frustration or just simple truth but Philadelphia 76ers star Andre Iguodala is of the belief that the Celtics talk too much on the court. Following Boston’s 110-91 beat down of the Sixers on Tuesday night for their new franchise-best 19th straight win and an NBA best-ever 27-2 start, the OTHER ‘AI’ had this to say about the Green and what they say on the court and if they Celtics are peaking too soon.
“I think teams would hope that but 27-2, you can’t knock that. It is what it is,” he began. “They’re playing good ball, no matter if they’re peaking or not. They just won the title and I’m sure they want to play to perfection and just try to keep it going the whole way. Similar to the Patriots, they were undefeated and they lost in the (Super Bowl). I’m sure they’re aware of that and want to keep it going the whole year.
“Everybody knows they won a championship and everybody knows they are a great team,” he continued. “They’ve got great players in Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, those guys go out there and play hard. But they try to go overboard with it sometimes. I think it takes away from actually how good a team they are, it takes away from the respect factor. Teams don’t respect them as much because of that.”
As for other teams in the NBA and whether they’re intimidated by the Celtics.
“I think they’re a good team but I don’t think they have that intimidation factor like the Detroit teams had those years when they were going to the Finals every year,” Iguodala said. “I think people respect them in as far as they’re a good team and they play great defensively but they have a lot of trash talkers out there so that kind of takes away from them sometimes.
“As a basketball group, they do a great job of executing and do a good job of sticking to their game plan.”
The two teams meet again on Feb. 3 in Philly.
|Sounds of the Game… Celtics 126, Bulls 108||12.20.08 at 10:32 am ET|
What makes a great team is when it can constantly find way to get better even when things are already going so well. Doc Rivers and staff worked with center Kendrick Perkins to work on setting better screens and picks, convincing him that this would lead to better seals under the basket and eventually more scoring opportunities for him. The result? Perk scored a career high 25 points on Friday night, second only to Ray Allen’s 27 as the C’s (yawn-yawn) dispatched of the Chicago Bulls 126-108 at TD Banknorth Garden. Now, the Celtics can match the team’s all-time winning streak mark of 18 on Sunday night against Quentin Richardson and the Knicks at home. If victorious against New York, the chance to break it comes on Tuesday against another arch-rival, the Philadelphia 76ers.
|73 or 34 in a row||12.19.08 at 7:42 pm ET|
Chicago, one of the most important bands of the 70s once wondered, 25 or 6 to 4. Sitting here at TD Banknorth Garden watching Chicago’s NBA entry offer precious little resistance to the Celtics, your intrepid reporter was inspired to re-work the question.
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This reporter is on record maintaining that as the Celtics are currently constituted, they will win 73 and set the new record. As for 34 straight, with a West Coast swing on the docket starting Christmas Day, that might be too much, even for these Celtics.
One other random question… With Usain Bolt, the world’s fastest man, in attendance at the Garden taking in the game, who is in better shape, Bolt or Ray Allen? When the two shook hands just prior to the fourth quarter at the scorer’s table, it marked a meeting of two supremely conditioned athletes.
Then, following the game, Bolt entered the locker room for a personal chat with the team and coaching staff. There was this question posed… Who would win a race, Bolt or Rajon Rondo?
|Sounds of the Game… Celtics 100, Jazz 91||12.16.08 at 8:39 am ET|
The Green Machine rolled to their 15th straight win thanks to another All-Star-worthy performance from point guard Rajon Rondo. He poured in a career-high 25 points and was just a rebound and two assists shy of another triple-double. He also had the move of the night late in the fourth quarter when he drove to the basket, got turned around and threw threw the ball over his head. The ball banked off the glass and came down, sending the sellout crowd into a frenzy and sealing Boston’s 23rd win in 25 tries. The Celtics matched the NBA’s all-time best 25-game start. All three previous teams to start 23-2 have won the NBA championship. The last time the Celtics won 15 straight was during their franchise-record 18-game run in the 1981-82 season. Next up, the Atlanta Hawks on the road Wednesday night at Philips Arena.
|Phelps Makes a Splash with Celtics||12.15.08 at 9:42 pm ET|
There was a ruckus coming from the trainers room following the Boston Celtics 100-91 win over the Utah Jazz. They weren’t celebrating their win but rather their special guest, U.S. Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps.
“B-More!” Kevin Garnett screamed out of the trainers room.
Sam Cassell rushed in to see the fellow Baltimore native Phelps, who grew up north of Cassell in the suburb of Rodgers Forge. Cassell had met Phelps after his first Olympic run in 2000.
“It’s good, a guy from the suburbs accomplished so much,” Cassell said. “He’s cool, he’s cool. He’s from the suburbs but he does everything a city guy does.”
So who has to fend off more fans in Baltimore? The swimmer or the point guard?
“It depends on which neighborhood we’re in. In my neighborhood they’d attack me because they know who I am. They might not know who he is,” Cassell replied with a laugh.
The prolific swimmer was ushered into the Celtics locker room by an entourage of security and Jared Fogle, with whom he is promoting Subway.
|Hold the Fries for Pierce||12.14.08 at 9:33 pm ET|
‘I got a rotisserie, so you can pretty much throw anything in that and just sit it and forget it,’ Paul Pierce said with a laugh.
If only his weight loss program was that simple. This summer Pierce estimates he dropped between eight to ten pounds, a step he took to enhance the quality of his career. Pierce, 31, had seen plenty of players gain weight around the same age and he couldn’t afford to do the same. Not when there is a championship to defend.
‘You always want to improve. I’m at the stage and the age where I’m not getting any younger and it’s going to be more difficult to keep off weight,’ he said. ‘But it’s just making a conscious effort, especially as my career winds down for the last four or five years, to just be in the best shape possible.’
Pierce became his own personal chef and said goodbye to many of the foods he had grown accustomed to.
‘I just cut back on a lot of meats, like red meats. I don’t eat a lot of steak as much as I did before, hamburgers, stuff like that,’ he explained. ‘It’s more chicken and fish, salads, pasta. Not as much pasta either, but you gotta sneak it in there sometimes. There are some great Italian places out here in Boston.’
The NBA season keeps Pierce out of his kitchen so he has to be extra cautious on the road. The combination of eating in the locker room after games, late-night meals, and dining out are red flags he has to avoid, or pay the price the following day.
‘It’s hard, especially when you go to Dallas and Mark Cuban puts all that food in [our locker room],’ he said. ‘I’m not saying I don’t cheat though. I just know I’ve got to get some extra work in the next morning.’
While Pierce decided to lose the weight on his own, he was impressed by how much shedding pounds transformed his teammate’s career. Kendrick Perkins lost 16 pounds heading into last season.
‘Just seeing him where he was day one,’ Pierce said. ‘I watched him from a kid to now and if you look at his pictures from his rookie year, you’d be like, ‘Man, who was that?”
So now that Pierce has traded in fried food for fresh fruit, what guilty pleasure does he miss the most?
‘Man, Mexican food,’ he said. ‘Growing up in Los Angeles you’ve got all the good Mexican places. I’m a taco guy, burritos, stuff like that. I cut back on those but I kind of sneak those in here and there. My mom makes the best chicken enchiladas. (Pauses) Man!”