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Shaq thanks Doc Rivers at retirement press conference 06.03.11 at 1:56 pm ET
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Shaquille O'Neal

During his retirement press conference at his home in Orlando, Shaquille O’Neal made special mention of his time with the Celtics, especially coach Doc Rivers. O’Neal singled out Rivers and Phil Jackson as the pro coaches who helped him the most.

“Playing for Doc Rivers this year was very, very special,” O’Neal said. “We had a lot of talent on the team but Doc Rivers always, always focused on the team. Thank you Doc.”

O’Neal said that he would have needed surgery on his Achilles in order to play again and that would have kept him out nine months. “The best solution was going in and cleaning it up with a nine-month recovery,” O’Neal said. “I thought it was good business to let Danny [Ainge] know right away so that he could get some young talent. It’s a beautiful organization. They still got a lot left.”

Shaq added, “I was really down on myself because I went up there with one mission only and I felt like I let the city down. I didn’t want that to happen again.”

O’Neal began his press conference by saying, “I never thought this day would come that father time would catch up with Shaquille O’Neal.”

He found time to make a joke at the Knicks expense after they unexpectedly let Donnie Walsh go earlier on Friday. He picked up a cell phone and said, “You want me to come up and apply for the Knick general manager job? That was the president of the Knicks. He wanted me to fly up after the press conference.”

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Wyc Grousbeck on D&C: ‘I want Miami to lose so badly’ 05.25.11 at 9:56 am ET
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Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck joined the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday morning during a charity benefit for the Massachusetts Soldiers Legacy Fund at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Boston. To hear the interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

After the Celtics lost to the Heat in the Eastern Conference semifinals, Grousbeck was asked if he is still watching the playoffs. “I am watching this year because I want Miami to lose so badly,” he said, adding “I’m rooting hard against the Heat.”

Grousbeck said he will be rooting for the Mavericks the rest of the way because of his relationship with Mavs owner Mark Cuban. Said Grousbeck: “I love the guy. … He’s just a good guy. He genuinely roots for us against other teams. He is a Celtics fan when he’s not a Mavs fan. And we’re going to return the favor.”

Grousbeck did give the Heat credit. “I thought they outplayed us in the series,” he said. “They had more juice. They had more pop. I can’t really deny that. I would have loved to take that Monday night game in Boston and make it 2-2 and see what happened. I think we might have won the thing. But I don’t really regret with like a huge missed chance. I’m just annoyed we didn’t beat them.”

When asked about the trade of Kendrick Perkins, Grousbeck said he felt Perkins was not the difference in losing to the Heat. “I love Perk, but I don’t think our issue was guarding their 5 spot,” he said. “Our issue was guarding their 2, 3 and 4. So, not only did we need Jeff Green, we needed about three more of him.”

Grousbeck played down the chemistry factor. “We had gotten that far in the season without Perk. He hadn’t played essentially the entire season,” Grousbeck said. “So, we were starting the games with [Shaquille O'Neal] and finishing the games with [Glen Davis]. And that would have continued in the playoffs if Perk was there. So, Perk wouldn’t have been starting if Shaq had been healthy.

“Where the plan fell short is Shaq not being able to come back; we thought he could.”

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Celtics made Doc Rivers highest-paid NBA coach 05.19.11 at 10:47 am ET
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Doc Rivers (AP)

Following the retirement of Phil Jackson, formerly the only eight-figure earner among coaches in the four major sports, Doc Rivers has become the highest paid coach in the NBA, according  to Forbes Magazine.

After making $5.5 million this past season, Rivers will now make an average of $7 million over the next five seasons after signing a $35 million extension. He surpassed Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni, who both make $6 million per season.

Interestingly, the magazine credits the jumps by Rick Pitino from the University of Kentucky to the Celtics and John Calipari from UMass to the Nets “as the catalysts driving NBA coaching salaries to a new level.”

Meanwhile, the Celtics may have to hire a new assistant coach, as Lawrence Frank is a candidate for the opening head coaching positions for the Warriors and Rockets, although Mavericks assistant Dwane Casey appears to be the favorite in Houston, according to CBS Sports.

As a side note, Forbes determined Patriots head coach Bill Belichick‘s annual estimated salary of $7.5 million is the highest paycheck for any coach in the four major sports.

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Report: Rockets interview Lawrence Frank again 05.17.11 at 8:44 am ET
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Celtics assistant Lawrence Frank interviewed again with the Rockets. (AP)

Just a year after losing defensive-minded assistant coach Tom Thibodeau and watching him take the Bulls to the Eastern Conference finals, the Celtics and head coach Doc Rivers might be posting the position on the NBA’s “Help Wanted” list for a second straight season.

Thibodeau’s replacement, Lawrence Frank, went through a second round of interviews with the Rockets on Monday for the head coaching position left vacant in Houston by Rick Adelman, according to Houston’s local FOX affiliate. He is reportedly one of three finalists for the job, along with Mavericks assistant coach Dwane Casey and Celtics Hall of Famer Kevin McHale.

This past season, Frank did an admirable job as Rivers’ assistant coach, leading the Celtics to a No. 1 ranking in points allowed (91.1) and No. 2 ranking in defensive rating (100.3 points per 100 possessions). Under Thibodeau in 2009-10, the C’s ranked fifth in both points allowed (95.6) and defensive rating (103.8).

Last serving as a head coach in 2009, Frank totaled a 225-241 record (.483 winning percentage) with the Nets for six-plus seasons.

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Kevin Garnett: Celtics didn’t reach their potential 05.16.11 at 1:21 pm ET
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Kevin Garnett said he's going to be working hard in the gym to get ready for next year. (AP)

Kevin Garnett was the only member of the Celtics’ Big Four not to address the media following the team’s meltdown in a Game 5 loss to the Heat that effectively ended the 2010-11 NBA season in Boston last week. Now, five days later, Garnett addressed the C’s demise in his Anta blog. Here’s the entry …

As you know, we were knocked out of the playoffs by Miami. It’s unfortunate that we are out and in my mind didn’t reach our potential. Taking the last couple of days to think about things and the season was long. Their were ups and downs all season and dealing with teammates, leaving teammates, gaining teammates. Long hours, flights, practices, workouts, etc. Another season under my belt, but not satisfying. I’ll be getting back to the “lab” (workouts and court work) to work on my craft, so I can keep improving. I will be working on my skills and constantly trying to get better.

Quick shout out to my man [Shaquille O'Neal], who is the best.  He worked hard all season, but couldn’t get his Achilles right.

Amazing to think that I was playing with so many potential HOF (Hall of Famers). I will remember these times, on and off the court.  This will be a memorable season!!!

Thank you all so much for your constant support and encouragement throughout the season. Hanging in with us through the ups and downs of the season. Your support gets me through and pushes me to be better. I will be back in China some time in July or August, so stay tuned. I met so many of you all last summer that it will be exciting to meet more.

Keep reaching higher and thanks to all my supporters.

my 2011 season is officially over.

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Doc Rivers on D&C: ‘I just thought it was time to show’ loyalty at 10:37 am ET
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Doc Rivers said part of the reason he re-signed with the Celtics so quickly was to quash rumors that he was headed elsewhere. (AP)

Celtics coach Doc Rivers joined the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning, three days after agreeing to a five-year contract extension to remain with the team.

Rivers said that rumors he was contemplating whether to take a sabbatical from coaching so that he could spend more time with his family weren’t accurate — at least not this year.

“Last year, they were probably more right,” he said. “Last year I was absolutely leaning that way. This year I really never was. After last year’s summer and going through the decision that we went through, I was pretty sure I was coming back and I was pretty sure I wanted to come back here.

“This is a special place. And I’ve said that before. You can’t get a lot of these jobs where you coach teams like the Celtics, or the Red Sox, or the Yankees, and I have one of them. I work with a great GM in Danny Ainge and I have good ownership. So, why change?”

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

Doc, if you don’t mind revealing this, whose idea was it for the longterm contract? Was it you that wanted the extra years, or did Danny want to lock you up for the extra years? Whose idea was it?

Danny brought it up to me. When he first brought it up, I was surprised by it. This was a while ago that he brought it up. I think actually he brought up even more years to start.

I never thought of it in those terms. Because we kept doing these one-year or two-year deals, and I never thought of it. Danny walked in my office and said, “Listen, I want you to be here with me for a long time. And I want to make this something where we’re together for a long time.” And so he brought up the number of years.

You’ve got to process that when you commit to something for that long. We did, and we thought it was the right thing to do.

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Irish Coffee: Cutting Big Three’s minutes to win it 05.13.11 at 1:04 pm ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …

Plenty of Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge‘s comments on The Big Show on Thursday incited debate, and perhaps none more than the potential of bringing team captain Paul Pierce off the bench in favor of starting Jeff Green next season.

“Maybe Paul comes off the bench to cut down on his minutes. … That’s just hypothetical,” said Ainge. “I have no idea if that’s going to happen. If Jeff is back next year, I think his role will be expanded, and it wouldn’t shock me if the starting five is different.”

Now, whether or not Pierce becomes the team’s Sixth Man in 2011-12 (doubtful, in my eyes), Ainge’s larger point is a good one: The Celtics need to cut down on the minutes next year for Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and possibly even Rajon Rondo, and the best way to do that is to increase opportunities for young talent like Green (age 24), Avery Bradley (20) and Free Agent X.

As a result of injuries to Delonte West, Marquis Daniels and the O’Neal “brothers,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers called on the Big Four more over the course of this regular season than he did in 2009-10, when the C’s reached the NBA Finals. With three of those guys entering the autumn of their careers and the other dealing with injuries to almost every part of his body, that’s not what the Doc was looking for.

Here are the per-minute averages for the Celtics’ core for the last two regular seasons …

  • Paul Pierce: 34.0 in 2009-10, and 34.7 in 2010-11
  • Ray Allen: 35.2 in 2009-10, and 36.1 in 2010-11
  • Kevin Garnett: 29.9 in 2009-10, and 31.3 in 2010-11
  • Rajon Rondo: 36.6 in 2009-10, and 37.2 in 2010-11

Those numbers should be declining, not climbing (unless, in Rondo’s case, he’s completely healthy). It’s kind of like when people sell their grandfather’s 1988 Buick with only 97,000 miles on it: “Other than running a few errands during the week, he mostly drove it on the highway to see his grandchildren every Sunday.” In this scenario, the playoffs would be that Sunday drive out on the highway.

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