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Irish Coffee: NBA conspiracy theories 10.13.10 at 10:28 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …

It’s time for a conspiracy theory. I’m sure you’ve all heard about Game 6 of the 2002 Western Conference finals between the Kings and Lakers — one of several games former NBA ref Tim Donaghy accused the NBA of rigging in order to squeeze an extra game out of the series. Well, after yesterday’s unrelated arrest of one of the Lakers-Kings Game referees, let’s take a look at the aftermath … again.

  • On July 20, 2007, New York Post columnist Murray Weiss reported an FBI investigation into Donaghy for betting on NBA games he officiated.
  • On Feb. 11, 2008, one Kings-Lakers Game 6 referee, Bob Delaney, spoke with ESPN about his upcoming book, “Covert: My Years Infiltrating the Mob.” The former New Jersey State Police trooper admitted to these criminal activities during his investigation: “stolen property, loan sharking, gambling, purchasing of guns.”
  • On June 11, 2008, The New York Times cited court documents in which Donaghy called out NBA executives and referees for manipulating games, including the 2002 series in question. Keep in mind, Donaghy had already pleaded guilty to conspiring with gamblers at this point.
  • On June 13, 2008, we learned from ESPN’s Chris Sheridan that the FBI questioned at least two former NBA referees about another Lakers-Kings Game 6 ref, Dick Bavetta, more than they did Donaghy. In that report, the game’s third ref, Tim Bernhardt, said: “I stand by my calls in that game. I was right on. I believe in Dick Bavetta, and I believe in Bob Delaney, and I believe in the NBA for that matter.”
  • On Dec. 8, 2009, in an interview with Dennis & Callahan, Donaghy said, “I had many conversations with Dick Bavetta and he claimed that he was the NBA’€™s go-to guy and he was put on certain games to make sure a certain team win.”
  • On Oct. 12, 2010, according to WFIE.com, Bernhardt was arrested in Indiana for violating a restraining order taken out against him by his ex-girlfriend and allegedly burglarizing her residence.

So, to recap the facts, in the last three years the refereeing trio of Kings-Lakers Game 6 has: a) admitted to gambling with the mob, albeit during an investigation as a New Jersey State Police officer (Delaney); b) been the subject of the FBI’s questioning during their investigation into NBA referees (Bavetta); and c) been arrested and charged with burglary and violating a restraining order (Bernhardt).

While none of those incidents implicates any of the three officials or directly relates to the outcome of any NBA game, including Kings-Lakers Game 6, I give you this — in Delaney’s own words — from an interview with ESPN’s Bob Ley: “I have dealt with criminals and informants, and I know full well they are capable of doing and saying anything.”

Now, I know there are more holes in this story than there were in Sonny Corleone‘s car, but that’s why it’s called a conspiracy theory, right?

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Dwight Howard, Shaquille O'Neal, Tim Bernhardt, Tim Donaghy
Shaq on D&C: ‘I would have played for free’ in Boston 09.28.10 at 8:49 am ET
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In an appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show, new Celtics center Shaquille O’Neal, who has made no less than $10 million in his last 14 NBA seasons and at least $20 million in his last nine campaigns, said that he had no problem taking a pay cut in excess of 90 percent in order to come to the Celtics. O’Neal signed a two-year deal for approximately $3 million this summer, and he suggested that money was virtually irrelevant in making his decision to join Boston.

“I had other options where the money would have been greater. But this franchise, this team, has a tradition of winning,” O’Neal said. “I’€™ve been one of the luckiest guys in the history of the game. I’€™ve had four max deals and one lifetime of play. So money wasn’€™t an issue. Money will never be an issue. But Danny Ainge had $1 million left, which was the minimum. If I had to, to come here and play, I would have played for free. Doesn’€™t matter to me.”

O’Neal ‘€” who said that he wanted to be called The Big Shamrock while with the Celtics — also discussed whether he will be able to “blend in” in Boston both on and off the court, his bucket list, his experience of last year’s Celtics-Cavaliers playoff series from Cleveland’s perspective and his feelings on Dwight Howard and LeBron James, among several other topics.

A transcript is below. To listen to the complete interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

This is Shaquille O’€™Neal. Don’€™t mess with Dennis & Callahan, weekdays from 6-10 on the WEEI Sports Radio Network.

Skip the boring basketball questions. Is Boston big enough for your personality?

I always tell people that I was raised Karate Kid style. My father took me many places as a youngster. I started off in Northern New Jersey, born and raised. Went down south to Hinesville, Ga., then to West Germany, then to San Antonio, Tex. I say that to say that I can blend in anywhere.

You probably can’€™t blend in.

I can blend in. If people are looking for me in Boston, I’€™ll be in Sudbury. If you’€™re looking for the Big Shamrock, he’€™ll be in Sudbury, in the fields of Sudbury.

You’€™ve settled on the Big Shamrock?

Yes. The Big Shamrock. Yes.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Bill Russell, Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James
Shaq on feuds: ‘It’s marketing’ 09.19.10 at 10:31 am ET
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It can be hard to keep track of all of Shaquille O’Neal‘s battles. One day he’s killing Mo Williams, and the next he’s saying it’s all for show. That’s Shaq  in an interview with the Orlando Sentinel. “I know what I’m doing when it comes to selling out games,” he told the paper sounding like Don King trying to get a good house.

Shaq went on to say that he has a good relationship with Dwight Howard off the floor, but it’s different when they’re on the court. “He’s a great young player,” Shaq said. “But on the court it’s not about making friends, it’s about doing what you’re supposed to do to win that game to win a championship.”

Read More: Dwight Howard, Mo Williams, Shaquille O'Neal,
Heinsohn on D&C: Howard getting away with flagrants 05.27.10 at 2:39 pm ET
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Comcast Celtics analyst Tommy Heinsohn joined Dennis & Callahan Thursday morning to give his take on the officials from Wednesday night’€™s Game 5 loss and why Dwight Howard should be suspended.

‘€œI was up at the [Comcast] studios at Burlington and was in the conference room watching [Game 5],’€ Heinsohn said. ‘€œThere were several people and we kind of all were hit with the same thought that these [referees] are incompetent.’€

Heinsohn also touched on the similarities and differences in Rajon Rondo and Hall of Famer Bob Cousy‘€™s game.

Below is a transcript. Visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page to hear the interview.

I want a mental picture of you during last night’€™s game. Where were you watching it and with whom were you watching it?

I was up at the studios at Burlington and was in the conference room watching the game. There were several people and we kind of all were hit with the same thought that these [referees] are incompetent.

What was Ed Rush thinking on the technical foul calls?

Well this guy goes way back. I got in hot water some years ago when I said ‘€œEddie F. Rush. F for fool.’€ I used that because in a game against the Knicks on the very last play, they tried to get [Patrick] Ewing the ball. The man passed it five feet away from Ewing, it went out of bounds, the Celtics are going to win the game, and he calls a foul on [Robert] Parish like he was holding him or hitting him or something and they end up winning the game. This guy has had no common sense, I don’€™t know why he’€™s still around. He has a history, I’€™ve been watching the game all these years, I just marvel at how they let him keep refereeing. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Celtics, Dwight Howard, Ed F. Rush, Kendrick Perkins
NBA rescinds Perkins technical at 1:04 pm ET
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The Celtics and Kendrick Perkins received a reprieve from the NBA Thursday when the league rescinded one of the two technical fouls Perkins received in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals, clearing Perkins to play in Game 6 on Friday.

Perkins and Marcin Gortat earned double-technicals early in the game and then Perkins was hit with a second one by official Eddie F. Rush with 36 seconds left in the half. Perkins was ejected after the second T, his seventh of the postseason, which triggered an automatic one-game suspension.

The league does review every technical foul that is called and they decided to rescind the second technical foul. Perkins still has six technicals against his name and would still be in danger of a suspension if he is hit with another one during the postseason.

In an eerie bit of foreshadowing, Doc Rivers spoke about the problems his team had with getting technicals, particularly Perkins, some two hours before it happened on the court.

‘€œI actually don’€™t like the rule, the suspension,” Rivers said. “I just don’€™t like it. I think the longer you are in the playoffs the more likely it’€™s going to affect your team. I think the fans want to see the best players on the floor. I just don’€™t agree with the whole suspension thing.’€

Part of the problem, Rivers believes, lies in the process of issuing double technical fouls to players, a tactic used by officials to try to calm things down.

‘€œIt’€™s the double tech thing that has to be resolved,’€ Rivers said. ‘€œSometimes the officials are just trying to clean the game up and an easy way to do it is give both guys techs and calm the game down. To me, those are the ones that we have to figure out a better way.’€

The league also upgraded a personal foul on Paul Pierce to a Flagrant 1 after Pierce shoved J.J. Redick in the back in the fourth quarter. The NBA announced before Game 5 that they had upgraded fouls from Game 4 on Orlando’s Dwight Howard and Matt Barnes to Flagrant 1 status as well.

Players are assessed points for flagrant fouls (one point for a Flagrant 1 and two points for a Flagrant 2). If they hit three points, they are also subject to an automatic one-game suspension. Howard has two Flagrant Foul points.

Read More: Dwight Howard, Kendrick Perkins, Matt Barnes, Paul Pierce
The trouble with Dwight at 2:31 am ET
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ORLANDO — Dwight Howard has been causing the Celtics major problems throughout the series and not just with his defense and rebounding. His elbows have also become cause for concern, specifically the elbow the knocked out Glen Davis in the third quarter of Game 5.

“Yeah, I didn’t know that was legal, but anyway, he did,” Doc Rivers said. “But listen, he’s a physical guy. We know that and he should be. That is his gift. Honestly, that is his gift. So he’s doing what he should do and we’ve just got to do a better job of taking the hits, I guess.”

A foul by Howard against Kevin Garnett in Game 4 was upgraded to a Flagrant 1, the league announced prior to the start of Game 5. In the aftermath, Garmett was hit with a technical foul in a game the Celtics lost in overtime.

Earlier in Game 5, Howard shoved Garnett in the back but there was no call. Rivers was seen having an animated conversation with official Joey Crawford during the next timeout and there is no question that Howard’s physical play has been a source of frustration for the Celtics throughout the series.

“We’re just trying to win,” Howard said. “Our intent is not hurt anybody out there, but basketball is a very physical sport. You’re playing against a very physical and tough team in the Boston Celtics.”

Read More: Dwight Howard,
Three things that went wrong and right in Game 5 05.26.10 at 11:34 pm ET
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The Celtics knew they had to overcome the Magic’€™s pick-and-roll in order to win the series. But after a disastrous Game 5 loss,  they have added a possible suspension, two concussions, and failed perimeter defense to the list.

In a snapshot: Kendrick Perkins was ejected after being whistled for a pair of technical fouls and could be suspended, Glen Davis and Marquis Daniels suffered concussions, and the Magic drained nearly 15 3-pointers.

The Celtics, who were on the verge of sweeping just days ago, are headed back to Boston after dropping two straight to the Magic.

Three things what went wrong (and they went so, so wrong)

Possible suspension for Perk: Kendrick Perkins was whistled for two technical fouls in the first half, resulting in an automatic ejection. The bigger problem is he was called for his seventh T of the postseason, an automatic one-game suspension. However, since the league does review technical fouls, one or both could be rescinded and Perkins could play on Friday night in Game 6.

Magic struck first: The Celtics have maintained the entire postseason that the key to winning on the road is striking first. But by the end of the first quarter, their initial 5-0 lead was a distant memory. The Celtics were outscored 31-22 from that point on, giving up 15 points from behind the arc. All of the Magic starters scored at least three points, while Kevin Garnett did not attempt a single field goal. The Magic fought for their shots, outrebounding the Celtics 12-7, and was more efficient at finding the open man (7-4 assists). The C’€™s allowed the Magic — and their home crowd — into the game early and were never able to kick them out.

Perimeter D disappears: The C’€™s knew what they were up against at the start of the series. ‘€œTheir shooting is what has always given us problems,’€ said Ray Allen. ‘€œTheir 3-pointer, we’€™ve got to take that away from them.’€ Tony Allen echoed, ‘€œConsidering they’€™re a team that shoots a gang of 3’s feeding off of Dwight Howard who’€™s very dominant in the post, we’€™re going to have to be ready. No if, ands and no buts.’€ The Celtics were ready in the first four games, holding the Magic to just 31 percent from 3-point range. But their perimeter defense imploded in Game 5. The Magic scored 39 points from long-range off of 52 percent shooting.

Three things that went right (well, not so bad)

Rondo bounced back: Questions of injuries buzzed around Rajon Rondo following a poor performance in Game 4. But whether it was muscle spasms or just an off night, Rondo was more effective offensively in Game 5. He scored 19 points, 10 more than in the previous game in six less minutes. It wasn’€™t his finest showing of the playoffs, but it showed he is back on the right track.

Robinson was reliable: Doc Rivers has said Nate Robinson will win the Celtics a playoff game. Robinson didn’€™t pull off the feat, but he was effective. With Rondo in foul trouble and Tony Allen benched for most of the game with a twisted ankle, Rivers turned to Robinson in the second half. He defended the point well, scored five points in six minutes, and even blocked Dwight Howard’€™s shot.

Celtics are going home: The Celtics didn’€™t want to have to play a Game 6 in Boston (they didn’€™t want to play a Game 5 in Orlando in the first place), but they are returning to their homecourt as they look to finish things up. The C’€™s are 6-2 at TD Garden during the postseason. Records aside, they have to take advantage of the energy the Celtics home crowd is sure to provide on Friday night.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Dwight Howard, Kendrick Perkins, Orlando Magic
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