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Michael Wilbon on D&C: ‘Superstar treatment was surely in effect’ for LeBron James 06.18.12 at 12:24 pm ET
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Michael Wilbon

ESPN’s Michael Wilbon joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday to talk about Game 3 of the NBA finals, the officiating, whether the Thunder would be better off with Rajon Rondo or Russell Westbrook, and more. To hear the interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Asked whether LeBron James was getting superstar treatment after playing such aggressive defense and being called for zero fouls Sunday night, Wilbon said, “I’d have to go back and look at the game and just pay attention to what LeBron did. It could’ve been a bad night for the way LeBron was called, and also, we know that LeBron is physically superior. He can control his body in ways that even the other great players cannot in terms of avoiding contact and that sort of thing. And also, superstar treatment was surely in effect.”

As for whether Kevin Durant ought to be afforded the same treatment, Wilbon said Durant would, in time.

“People have to earn it,” Wilbon said. “And earning it in the NBA means, in the culture of this league for 60 years, so longer than any of these officials have been around, is seniority. And you get it when you’ve been a great player over time. And Durant had a couple of fouls called on him last night that in my opinion should not have been called.”

While he felt it was too early to say definitely, Wilbon said the Thunder look like a team that will win championships, just not this year.

“Every great player, except Magic Johnson, in the last, I don’t know, 35 years, has been crushed, usually in the finals, but certainly conference finals, multiple times even,” Wilbon said, pointing to Hall of Fame players such as Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwan and David Robinson. “They were crushed before they broke through. I don’t feel like Oklahoma City has gone through that right of passage yet. We know Miami has been through that. LeBron James personally has been through that, twice, already. And I feel like Miami has this sense that, ‘Oh no, no, no, we’re not going to have that happen again.’ It’s awful to go through that for an entire offseason and I don’t know that Oklahoma City is playing with that ‘hate to lose’ sort of mentality.”

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Sean Grande’s NBA awards ballot 04.27.12 at 1:56 pm ET
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LeBron James is an easy choice for MVP. (AP)

I’m not sure when exactly it happened.

Media, communication, society, it all changes pretty fast these days. But at some point, probably somewhere between MySpace and Facebook, the concept of anonymity started to become a problem. It was manageable then, the occasional encoded e-mail address and what not. But with Twitter, it’s now an epidemic.

And of course the problem isn’t anonymity, it’s a wonderful thing if you’re fortunate enough to have it. The problem, is that it comes with a certain amount of entitlement. That lack of awareness, fake-tough bravery that usually comes after too much to drink, or for those of us new parents, not nearly enough sleep.

People say the nastiest, vicious, twisted things when armed with a keyboard and the invisibility cloak of the Internet. They are, more often than not, the same people that would smile, shake your hand or ask for an autograph if they saw you in person. It’s a disturbing, ugly trend. I mean, sure it is. But it’s an absurdly small price to pay for the freedom of speech we’re blessed to have and the extraordinary age of technology in which we exist.

There are 100 million people on Twitter. If a few dozen backwards teenagers, bred in ignorance, tweet something offensive after Joel Ward scores the overtime goal for the Capitals, it’s not a story unless we make it one.

Morons have existed from the beginning of time. So has classlessness, ignorance and hate. And they always will. Progress isn’t eliminating them; that’s a noble idea but it can’t be done. Progress is recognizing it, isolating it and going on with life in the real world while the increasing minority of people fueled by race and hate grows extinct.

It’s how we got rid of disco, Members Only jackets and lava lamps. Just give it time.

Anyway, the point is that as big a fan of anonymity as I am … I don’t think postseason award ballots should be anonymous. Never have. I’ve been voting for NBA MVP and the other awards for 14 years now. It’s a privilege, not a right. And I think with that privilege comes a certain amount of accountability. I’ve always made my ballot public and I think everyone should. If you’re “expert” enough to get a vote, you should be able to defend your choices, that’s all.

That said, I’ll be submitting my ballots to the league shortly, and here’s what they’ll look like.

ALL-NBA

I always begin here. By picking the top 15 guys in the league, it starts my process in picking the five for my MVP ballot.

And the strangest thing about the all-NBA team this year? In fact, the strangest thing maybe about this truly strange NBA season? The center spot. For years now, it’s actually been a struggle to find three centers worthy of All-Star consideration. You’d convince yourself that Tim Duncan was playing center even if he wasn’t, or that Nene was really underrated. It was a struggle. This year, if you call Duncan a center, there were legitimately seven guys competing for the third spot.

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Doc Rivers sees Kevin Garnett in the ‘half’ Kendrick Perkins 01.17.12 at 9:36 am ET
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When he was in Boston, Kendrick Perkins was known as the lumbering shot blocking man in the middle with a scowl.

When his former coach Doc Rivers looked out on the court Monday night, he saw a much different Perk.

“He’s half Perk but he’s quicker,” Rivers said of Perkins, who lost 30 pounds in the offseason. “He had a move today — even though he traveled — where he caught it, took two dribbles, went quick and gathered himself.”

This is the man that Celtics GM and team president Danny Ainge traded to Oklahoma City for Jeff Green at the trade deadline last February.

Perkins has matured — and that was clear for Rivers to see on Monday. Yes, he still got in foul trouble, limiting him to seven points and five rebounds in 28 minutes. But what was very clear — and audible — to Rivers from the Celtics sideline is what he’s done in terms of making the Thunder a tough team, a team battle-tested and ready to make a run at a title.

“You can see, he’s put work in his game,” Rivers said. “He has every year I’ve known him. His influence on that team is dramatic to me. You can see it, you can feel it. You can see it with the bigs, with [Serge Ibaka], they’re all defensive players now. Perk has completely changed the culture of that team, you can just see it on the floor. That’s terrific for him.”

Where did he get this from? Read the rest of this entry »

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Fast Break: Celtics can’t catch up to Thunder 01.16.12 at 10:32 pm ET
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In a reminder of just how different this team is from the one that won the NBA title in 2008, the Celtics welcomed former center Kendrick Perkins to town, and his new team handed his (really) old team their fifth straight defeat, 97-88.

As Kevin Durant (28 points) and Russell Westbrook (26 points) combined for 54 points, the Thunder improved to 12-2 with their sixth road win in seven tries, leaving the Celtics (4-8) still searching for their first victory against a .500-plus team.

WHAT WENT WRONG

Slow me the way: The Celtics shot 34.1 percent in the first half and failed to scored 40 points before the break for the fourth time in six games, trailing the Thunder 46-39 after the opening 24 minutes. Once again, the C’s dug themselves into an early hole and spent the rest of the night tiring themselves out trying to dig out of it. Twice in the second half — once in the third and again late in the fourth quarter — they made runs to get back into the game, only to watch OKC widen the gap again.

Can they get a lift? The Celtics made a concerted effort to get to the rim, and they succeeded in getting to the basket, but their old legs just didn’t have the lift to finish the job. Thunder forward Serge Ibaka totaled four blocks in the first half alone, leaving the C’s with little to show for their effort.

Russell Westbrook > Rajon Rondo: At least for one night, in a battle of two point guards who have been mentioned in possible trade scenarios for each other, Westbrook got the best of his counterpart Rondo. Sure, Rondo nearly had a triple-double (12 points, 9 assists, 9 rebounds, 4 turnovers), but Westbrook buried impossibly big shot after impossibly big shot down the stretch, totaling 26 points, seven rebounds and four assists.

WHAT WENT RIGHT Read the rest of this entry »

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10 Things I Heard About Celtics VII 09.20.11 at 6:35 pm ET
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On another slow Celtics news day, there’s still plenty to learn about Boston’s green men. Here are 10 more C’s links of interest we discovered over the past few days (“10 Things I Heard About Celtics” IIIIIIIVV and VI) …

10. Taking time out from practice on the LSU campus, Celtics free agent forward Glen Davis recently traveled to South Portland, Maine to dedicate a pair of basketball courts and speak on behalf of a charitable venture.

The latter event provided us with two dichotomous Davis interviews courtesy of the local NBA affiliate: 1) the awkward exchange in the embedded video between a report intent on asking lockout questions and Davis, who clearly wanted no part of it; and 2) the poignant speech to Day One fundraisers about being raised by a mother with substance abuse problems.

We’ll start on the basketball side. The short of what Davis had to say was “I have no worry,” “Everything will be Ok” and “We’ll be back on the court.” The long of it:

  • On the lockout: “The owners and the players are trying to deal with something, and they’ll make sure everything will happen the way it needs to happen. I have no worry. Everybody loves basketball.”
  • On the lockout, again: “They have issues. We have to work them out. Everybody wants basketball. With everybody on the same ground, we can work something out. Everything will be Ok.”
  • And again: “I think a lot of guys are working out and preparing themselves, but everybody’s at their house or doing something. We’re preparing like there’s going to be a season, and after everything gets worked out we’ll be back on the court.”
  • And again: “We’ve got to work things out first. In the meantime, between time, I’m just affiliated with and doing other things, so I’m just waiting.”

Now to the human side. Here are a few touching tidbits from Davis about his childhood:

  • On his hometown: “I grew up in a neighborhood where there were drugs everywhere. It was like walking zombies out there.”
  • On his upbringing: “I had to face some things that I never could ever imagine that I would have had to face as a young child. I was put in situations where I had to grow up as an adult. I had to realize what life was really about.”
  • On finding hoops: “In basketball, that’s where I found the values of life. It’s where I found that structure. It’s where I found that place where I can vent and be me, because I had to be someone else.”

The Portland Press Herald has more from the emotional Davis, who was introduced by Celtics legend Dave Cowens with this: “All the old guys I played with think he really knows how to play the game.”

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Kevin Durant, LeBron James put on show as Jeff Green remains conspicuously absent from highlights 08.31.11 at 10:07 am ET
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While Kevin Durant and LeBron James stole the show in the much anticipated summer exhibition matchup between the Goodman League and the Melo League, Celtics restricted free agent forward Jeff Green was noticeably missing from any and all Twitter coverage, highlights packages and game stories.

Durant scored 59 points in defeat, while James netted 38 points in victory — seemingly all on dunks. Carmelo Anthony chipped in 36 points and Chris Paul tallied 18 points for the Melo All-Stars. To be fair, with so many NBA stars involved, it’s no wonder really that Green’s light shone least.

There are only two reasons we know Green even showed up: 1) He and Durant arrived late, delaying the game; and 2) This picture of Anthony cruising to the basket past him … Read the rest of this entry »

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Your daily Rajon Rondo update: With Kendrick Perkins 08.10.11 at 8:23 am ET
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ohcpxa.jpg

Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo tweeted this photo with the caption, "LooonnngggO Workout."

Kendrick Perkins and Rajon Rondo will play together again.

Of course, it’s only for one day — Friday at 1 p.m. —  in the Ozen (Beaumont, Texas) High gymnasium where Perkins played prior to joining the Celtics as the No. 27 overall pick in the 2003 NBA draft.

With As the culmination of a three-day basketball camp in his hometown, Perkins will host a celebrity all-star game, featuring former C’s teammate Rondo, current Thunder teammates Kevin Durant, James Harden and Eric Maynor as well as Bucks guard Stephen Jackson.

With the news that Durant just began negotiations on a potential deal to play alongside Deron Williams in Turkey, you can bet news outlets will be making the 90-minute trek from Houston to Beaumont.

Houston native Jackson and Rondo have long been friends of Perkins, also attending the former Celtics center’s 2009 bachelor party and wedding. And it appears Perk’s become fast friends with Durant, Harden and Maynor after being traded to Oklahoma City in February and playing just 34 games with his new team.

The news is just one more encouraging sign that Rondo — who tweeted a photo on Tuesday of his healing dislocated left elbow, knees and ankles wrapped after a lengthy workout — is on schedule to be NBA game ready when the lockout ends. Here’s a quick rundown of Rondo’s busy offseason schedule so far …

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