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Doc Rivers really feels for Gregg Popovich and the $250,000 fine 11.30.12 at 7:06 pm ET
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Doc Rivers admitted before Friday’s game with the Blazers that he didn’t like the $250,000 fine handed down by NBA Commissioner David Stern Friday night against the Spurs for sitting four of their stars and sending them home for Thursday night’s game against the Heat in Miami.

Gregg Popovich, a close friend of Rivers, did not dress Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Danny Green for the game on national TV Thurday night, sending them home on a Southwest Airlines flight. Popovich said he did what he needed to in the best interest of his team, which was playing a brutal stretch of four road games in five nights and finishing up a road trip.

Stern said in a statement announcing the fine that the Spurs did a “disservice to the league and its fans.”

Rivers said he understood but sympathized more with Popovich.

“I don’t like it,” Rivers said. “I do get the other side of it, but it’s a tough one. You’ve got to coach your team to win in the long run.”

Rivers said Stern and the league made a big deal of it when it happened right away, when the league issued a statement Thursday night.

“I apologize to all NBA fans,” Stern said in his statement Thursday. “This was an unacceptable decision by the San Antonio Spurs and substantial sanctions will be forthcoming.”

Rivers thought that was a bad move.

“I think it was an action and a reaction personally, and I think the reaction was probably overdone [Thursday], and then all of a sudden you have to have an action,” Rivers said.

Rivers was asked if he’d consider a similar move to rest veterans like Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.

“We’ll do it when we want to do it and we should be able to do it,” Rivers said.

Read More: Boston Celtics, David Stern, Doc Rivers, Gregg Popovich
Game 6 loss creates national surprise of Celtics’ lack of heart 06.09.12 at 9:46 am ET
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Kevin Garnett and LeBron James will go at it one more time this series. (AP)

After the Celtics dropped Game 6 in front of an energetic crowd at “The Jungle,” fans and writers nationally wondered what happened to Boston’s heart, and noted LeBron James‘ very clutch, 45-point performance.

The loss prompted NBA’s Shaun Powell to question if the Celtics can mount a performance energetic enough to win Game 7.

“Given a chance to win on their home floor, the Celtics folded like a paper airplane, raising suspicion that their best game could be behind them,” Powell wrote.

Some fans responded by calling out the Celtics for not showing up to play, while others praised James’ performance. Most fans said they weren’t surprised by the game’s outcome and a few added it will be hard to predict the winner of Game 7.

“The way I see it, the playoffs is all about adjustments,” one fan wrote. “Boston won game 5, Miami made adjustments and came back to win game 6. Boston is in the better position right now, because they can only adjust to what they did wrong in the last game. The Heat do not have the grace of hindsight on their side right now because they are coming off of a win. Barring an amazing game by LeBron AND [Dwyane] Wade (yes they both will have to step up for this one), the Celtics determination and coaching staff will see them to the Finals. Don’t think that LeBron’s game was all about him, [coach Erik] Spoeltsra put him in better situations to score the ball judging on what wasn’t working in Game 5.”

On fan expressed disappointment with Boston’s effort on FoxSports’ recap.

“I was shocked at the lack of effort from the Celt’s last night,” the fan wrote. “It looked like none of them wanted to be there. Maybe [NBA commissioner David] Stern promised them a blockbuster trade next year if they would lose.”

USA Today’s Adi Joseph responded to Boston’s loss by saying the Celtics need to be fixed because “nothing worked” for the team.

ESPN’s Skip Bayless was one media personalty who admitted Boston’s loss, and James’ stunning performance, didn’t surprise him.

Lower expectations, Heat as “underdogs,” most ppl thinking Boston big – LeBron goes off. Predictable. But NOW the pressure returns, Bayless tweeted.

The focus may have stayed on the Celtics if James lashed at critics by recording 45 points on the night. His clutch performance directed most reaction from the game his way, and most praised James’, even those surprised by his performance. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Celtics, David Stern, Doc Rivers, Dywane Wade
Donny Marshall on M&M: ‘Would not surprise me’ if Rajon Rondo suspended two games 04.30.12 at 2:24 pm ET
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After what could be aptly called an interesting Game 1 loss for the Celtics Sunday night, CSNNE analyst Donny Marshall joined Mut & Merloni to discuss all things surrounding the Celtics’ 83-74 loss to the Hawks.

Understandably, no topic was given more weight than the ejection of Rajon Rondo for making contact with official Marc Davis and, specifically, the potential fallout for Rondo’s actions. Marshall said that Rondo will definitely be suspended, and while it should only be for one game, it may end up being for two.

“Any contact you make with an official, it means you’re going to be suspended a game,” Marshall said. “And I’ll take it one step further — I wouldn’t be surprised if the NBA says, ‘You know what? We’re going to suspend you two games.’

David Stern is not one of those guys who gives you the benefit of the doubt. It would not surprise me if it were two games. I hope it’s just one, it should only be one, but in the past David Stern has come down.”

While Rondo’s actions certainly could be detrimental to the Celtics’ success going forward, Marshall said that Rondo’s teammates would be best served to be supportive of him.

“You know as a teammate, especially at that level, you don’t overreact to what your teammates do,” Marshall said. “You step back and say, ‘Look, what would I have done? Would I have reacted that way?’ Guys have emotions and you can’t judge your teammates based off one emotional mistake.

“Rondo has given so much to that team and done such a great job of leading that team sometimes when they’ve been down guys. You can’t overreact because the last thing you want is for that incident to blow into something bigger and now it become a personal thing in that locker room.”

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Read More: Avery Bradley, David Stern, Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett
Transcript of Kevin Garnett on D&C: Rajon Rondo the smartest, most stubborn, possibly most hated player in NBA 12.14.11 at 10:53 am ET
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Kevin Garnett

Celtics forward Kevin Garnett joined Dennis & Callahan for an interview from Celtics training camp that aired Wednesday morning.

Following rumors that Rajon Rondo could get traded, Garnett was asked his opinion of the young point guard. Garnett said Rondo is the smartest player in the league, as well as “the most stubborn, the most probably hated.”

Said Garnett: “I’ve grown to understand Shorty. His greatest gift is his greatest curse. We as players try to help him to understand that. Me, more or less, I see a lot of myself in him. I’m not as cocky as he is. I like to actually set aside ego when I step on the court and let the play do the talking.

“Shorty’s very smart but he’s also very stubborn. Nonetheless, with all that said and done, talking to him, I see the maturity, I hear the maturity in him wanting to be better. That’s what you want from your young guy. You want your young guy growing. You want your guy to always be in a sense to where he’s understanding that he’s the future. I think him understanding that, him being confident in that. You hear your name in talks, that’s not what you want to be. Things like that come on for a reason. Just understanding growth and understanding being young. But I love Shorty. I wouldn’t want to play with anybody else.”

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

Did you think there was a chance there might not be basketball this year? Did that thought dross your mind? Did it worry you?

To be honest, yeah, I didn’t think that we were going to have basketball, and I thought for the betterment of. I thought players should have stayed solid and together on what we thought was right. I’m a fighter, man. I understood the demographics. Obviously 500-plus players, everybody’s going to have a preference. This was just my own. I understood the negotiating. I understood the whole process of it, going through it in ’99 and ’98. But times are different now. And here we are.

Do wounds need to heal?

I think everybody needs to get past mad and come here and be professional. And I think that’s what you see, guys understanding what this is. But to sit back and complain about the things that [David] Stern is doing, jamming up trades and all this other stuff, I think he’s been playing God for a while. But we need to understand that he’s also grown our league. He’s also done a lot of good things in our league.

At some point if you’re going to go forward, you’ve got to get past mad and come in here and understand that and focus on the positives. So, that’s what I think everybody’s doing. We’ve got a new team here. Basketball is back and alive here. I think all the guys here agree that we’re happy to see each other. Now, it’s just about preparing for this year.

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Read More: Danny Ainge, David Stern, Derek Fisher, Doc Rivers
NBA players face stark choices 11.11.11 at 10:50 am ET
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The NBA has made another final offer. Will it be one the players can accept? (AP)

The NBA lockout has come to down to this, apparently: The owners have made a revised proposal that offers a 50-50 split of the revenues and included minor adjustments from their previous offer, and the union will meet with player reps early next week to consider its options.

If the answer from the union is yes, then the NBA will go ahead with a 72-game schedule beginning on Dec. 15. The start of the playoffs would be pushed back a week, but considering the league would have already lost six weeks, a 72-game season in that time frame would be roughly similar to the 50-game sprint marathon of 1999. The Celtics, for example, would have played 20 games by Dec. 15.

If the answer from the union is no, then NBA commissioner David Stern indicated that the league will once again pull back the offer and revert back to a hard-line offer of a 47 percent split of the revenue and a structure the league calls a “flex cap” but is really hard a hard cap, and that’s a position the players won’t accept.

The key word is “apparently,” because throughout the process the NBA keeps issuing ultimatums and then backing off, but this time (really) feels different. “We have made our revised proposal, and we’re not planning to make another one,” Stern said.

It was clear Thursday night that the union wanted to keep negotiating because the owners’ offer is not an easy sell to its members. The details are important, and Ken Berger of CBS Sports outlined them here.

“I understand from the union’s standpoint it’s a difficult pill to swallow right now,” deputy commissioner Adam Silver said. “But that, once again, over time, we’ll be proven right and this will be a better league for the players, the teams and the fans.”

Silver continues to try to frame the issue as one of competitive balance, even though it has been proven time and time again, that there is little, if any, correlation between payroll and success on the court. What it really comes down to is power and control. The balance of power shifted in recent years to the players, and the owners want it back.

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Read More: Billy Hunter, David Stern, NBA lockout,
Irish Coffee: Kevin Garnett bleeps everything up 10.18.11 at 11:18 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …

Yahoo! Sports columnist Adrian Wojnarowski piggybacked the ESPN reports over the weekend that Celtics forward Kevin Garnett‘s involvement in collective bargaining negotiations may have disrupted a potential 50/50 split of basketball-related income between NBA owners and players. The C’s-related portion of Woj’s piece:

This fight has grown nastier, more personal, in the past weeks. Privately, management insists that everything changed when the Celtics’ Kevin Garnett walked into the negotiating room on Oct. 4. The owners knew it wouldn’t go well when Garnett started glowering across the table, sources said, like the league lawyers, owners and officials were opponents at the center jump. He was defiant, determined and downright ornery. He was KG. Everyone knew Hunter had to cede to the wishes of the stars, and the stars demanded that the players stop making concessions to the owners.

As one league official said, “We were making progress, until Garnett [expletive] everything up.”

Colleague Paul Flannery and I had a brief e-mail exchange on the subject, and I couldn’t agree with him more: Are we really going to believe that by fixing the owners with a KG stare that they packed up and went home?

Owners and players will sit down with federal mediator George Cohen on Tuesday. In an appearance on CNN, NBA commissioner David Stern indicated that the meeting could be one of the most significant days of the lockout. Here are some highlights of that interview (via The New York Times):

  • The good: “We would push as hard as possible to be up and running in 30 days.”
  • The bad: “We keep negotiating and we keep losing games in the calendar.”
  • The ugly: “If there’s a breakthrough, it’s going to come on Tuesday. And if not, I think that the season is really going to potentially escape from us, because we aren’t making any progress.”

Calling a potential 50/50 split “a very thin deal for the NBA,” Stern also stressed three needs of the owners: 1) “an opportunity to be profitable,” 2) “a more robust revenue sharing plan” and 3) “a system that allows small market and large market teams to tell their fans: ‘We can compete if we’re well managed.’”

In related news, a group led by billionaire Joshua Harris bought the 76ers for a mere $280 million.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, David Stern, Kevin Garnett, NBA
The NBA lockout is finally getting serious 09.07.11 at 6:19 pm ET
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NBA commissioner David Stern said there were three weeks left to start the season on time. (AP)

For more than two months, the NBA has remained locked out and stagnant. In the interim, basketball heads have turned their attention to EuroBasket and salivated over highlights from the handful of barnstorming exhibitions and street-ball games. They have watched Kevin Durant become the breakout superstar of the summer, due to his appearances at summer-league hot spots like the Rucker in New York and the Goodman League in his native Washington, D.C. (Try and watch the highlights from the Goodman-Melo exhibition in Baltimore and tell me you don’t miss basketball).

The NBA, however, has remained in a deep freeze. For most of the summer, the only thing the two sides have agreed on is that they disagree on just about everything. David Stern went on Bill Simmons’ podcast and couldn’t help baring his sarcastic fangs. The union talked about a gap of $7.6 billion, which is at once true and also overstated.

Yet there are signs – even hopeful signs – that things are about to get serious. That doesn’t mean solved. The lockout has really only just begun and we are coming to the time when the days finally begin to mean something. Training camps are less than a month away and soon the players will start to miss paychecks, while owners will start to lose gate receipts. This is when everyone waits for someone to blink and the staredown is in full effect.

But they are talking. The two sides met last week and they did so again on Wednesday with a plan to meet Thursday and possibly Friday.

“We agreed that we’re going to stay here for as many days as we can to see if we’re going to make progress,” Stern told reporters after a five-plus hour session on Wednesday. Both Stern and Hunter said there was still time to come to an agreement and begin the season on time with Stern pegging the timeframe as “three weeks.”

In and of itself, that doesn’t constitute any progress and so far the only concession that has been made public is the tacit agreement to tone down the rhetoric. This was a good move, not only for civility, but also because neither side has done much to move the public opinion needle. If anything, the players have been seen in a slightly more favorable light than usual during a work stoppage – even one imposed by the owners – possibly due to the perceived staggering demands of management.

But that’s a pyrrhic victory at best. In this era of labor unrest, fans (and this is a sweeping generalization) don’t care about wrong and right when it comes to these matters. They simply want the games back. Public relations matter far less than action, and that’s where we stand. Waiting for action.

To that end, two different storylines have emerged. One, as articulated by veteran hoops writer Chris Sheridan, is that the two sides are closer than they have let on. The other, as reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! is that the agents are growing restless with the tactics of Hunter and the union and are pushing for decertification, much like the NFL union did in their labor situation.

The next few weeks — if not days — will be critical if the NBA is to emerge with a new collective bargaining agreement in time to start the season as scheduled.

Read More: Billy Hunter, David Stern, NBA lockout,
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