|Irish Coffee: Bill Russell, basketball’s grandfather||02.19.13 at 12:31 pm ET|
I was 12 years old when my grandfather died, and I never really got to ask him about playing for Passaic (N.J.) High’s “Wonder Team,” owners of the longest win streak (159 games) in prep basketball history and entrants into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, or about playing for Rutgers, where he apparently also took part in a handful of exhibition games under an assumed name for $25 a night. This was the 1920s, before the NBA.
So, when Bill Simmons interviewed Bill Russell, basketball’s grandfather, on NBA TV Monday, it made me feel profoundly nostalgic, jealous and robbed of so many great tales of my own basketball ancestry. But mainly I just felt lucky that we all still have this great link to Celtics past. Heck, to American history. And we should cherish that.
Russell shared captivating story after captivating story. His admiration of his father Charles, who raised his playwright brother Charlie L. and him while working for decades in an Oakland foundry. His belief he would never have played in the NBA if he hadn’t been traded from the “overwhelmingly racist” city of St. Louis in 1956 to Boston for future Hall of Famers Ed Macauley and Cliff Hagan. His quiet first meeting with a young Kansas freshman named Wilt Chamberlain. His pavement of the road to professional players’ unions and big contracts, like the $100,001 one he signed in 1965 — one more dollar than Chamberlain’s deal. His support of Muhammad Ali during the heavyweight champ’s conscientious objection to the Vietnam War. And so on and so on.
He was fascinating. Here are 11 great quotes from the interview, one for every title he won for the Celtics.
Yahoo! Sports NBA writer Marc Spears checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Tuesday to discuss the rumors of a trade between the Celtics and Clippers, and the Celtics’ interest in Hawks forward Josh Smith.
With Thursday’s trade deadline fast approaching, rumors continue to swirl that the Celtics and Clippers are discussing a deal that would send Kevin Garnett to Los Angeles for DeAndre Jordan and Eric Bledsoe.
“I think the Clippers want it done more so than Boston,” Spears said. “This is the first time we’ve ever talked about the Clippers having a championship shot. I think they realize that they’re missing just a little something to get them over that hump with Oklahoma City and with San Antonio. And who better to get them there than Kevin Garnett?
“I was there [at All-Star Weekend] when Kevin said no, no circumstance, nothing. But I really believe if Danny [Ainge] came up to him and said, ‘Hey, this is something we would like to do; this is better for our future,’ knowing Garnett’s pride, I think he would probably change his mind. I know he doesn’t want to be somewhere where they’d rather have something else.”
Jordan is having a solid fourth season (9.0 ppg, 7.3 rpg) and Bledsoe, while not a starter, also is having a good year (9.6 ppg, 3.3 apg).
“DeAndre Jordan I think is a better center than [he’s] getting credit for,” Spears said. “He’s really really retooled his offensive game, gotten better in the post, but the problem is everybody on the Clippers likes to shoot. … I think he could be one of the NBA’s elite centers, he’s just not given a chance.
“Bledsoe is very very talented, very athletic. I don’t know that acquiring him certainly means that [Rajon] Rondo is gone. He and Chris Paul play a lot together, so I can’t see why him and Rondo can’t play a lot together. But I know Bledsoe is at a point in his career, too, where he wants to start, so that’s where I think it gets kind of tricky.”
It appears that the trade could benefit both clubs. It would give the Celtics a quality starting center and a young point guard, while the Clippers would get a player with championship experience who still is playing good basketball at the age of 36. KG has stated numerous times, though, that he wants to finish his career with the Celtics.
‘I know the Clippers want to do this, I know they want to,” Spears said, adding: “This is an opportunity for the Clippers to finally get something. The window with Garnett obviously is about two years, but they’ve never been here and I think their owner might be in the mentality now of just ‘Let’s go for it. I’ve saved money for all these years with these bad teams, I might as well do something for once.’ So I think they’re open to doing something big.’
|Irish Coffee: Kevin Garnett loves Celtics, hates Craig Sager suits||02.18.13 at 11:23 am ET|
The only thing worse than the NBA’s All-Star Weekend festivities was TNT sideline reporter Craig Sager‘s suit — a hideous monstrosity even by Sager’s standards. No wonder Kevin Garnett won’t play in another All-Star Game.
“Hey, man, stop wearing stuff like this when you do real interviews,” said Garnett, who finished scoreless in just six minutes of action during the East’s 143-138 loss to the West. “Straight up.”
“What’s wrong with it?” asked Sager.
“You look like a Christmas ornament,” Garnett countered.
Gotta love Sager playing naive. Perhaps he forgot Garnett telling him in 2008, “You can’t just grab something from the 1970s and bring it back,” or in 2009, “You take this outfit home, and you burn it.” But surely he recalls Saturday’s All-Star Game practice, when a mutual love of clowning Sager’s suits resolved any lingering conflict over the taste of Honey Nut Cheerios between Garnett and Carmelo Anthony:
|Kevin Garnett isn’t about to waive his no-trade clause||02.16.13 at 3:28 pm ET|
Speaking at media availability during All-Star Weekend in Houston, Celtics forward Kevin Garnett said he wasn’t intent on waiving his no-trade clause. Garnett responded with a “No,” when asked if there was any circumstance he would consider waiving the clause.
He later added, “Why would I come back and make the visits to rally this team to go further only to be set up to have change?”
At one point, Garnett asked if the only questions would be trade-related. He then relented when a reminder was offered regarding Thursday’s trade deadline.
“I get it. I get it,” he said. “It’s all good. If it’s up to me, I’m going to live and die green all day.”
Earlier Saturday, Yahoo! Sports reported the Celtics and Clippers were in discussions regarding a deal that would send Garnett to Los Angeles, and Eric Bledsoe and DeAndre Jordan to Boston.
Now that you’ve digested the unlikelihood of a Rajon Rondo for Dwight Howard trade between the Celtics and Lakers, wrap your head around this one: The Kevin Garnett to the Clippers rumor is back and bigger than ever.
Speculation first found legs when the Celtics hosted the Clips on Feb. 3, but multiple reports shot the rumor down for a variety of reasons. Now, reputable Yahoo! Sports columnists Adrian Wojnarowski and Marc J. Spears are reporting the two teams are discussing a deal that would bring Eric Bledsoe and DeAndre Jordan to Boston in exchange for Garnett.
Members of both organizations appear reluctant to make the trade, Wojnarowski and Spears reported. While Garnett might make the Clippers a contender this season, they would be parting ways with a 23-year-old star point guard in the making and a still developing 24-year-old center.
Meanwhile, besides the fact Garnett remains the heart and soul of the Celtics franchise, team president Danny Ainge would have to convince KG to waive his no-trade clause, although the C’s hope a move close to his home in Malibu and a chance to join longtime friend Chauncey Billups might assuage the 36-year-old All-Star’s concerns, according to the report.
|Kevin Garnett downplays ‘last All-Star Game’ comment||02.15.13 at 3:22 pm ET|
For the first time since he declared this weekend’s NBA All-Star Game would be his last, Celtics star Kevin Garnett addressed the comments during his Media Day session (available via the NBA’s live stream here).
“I took the question as if somebody was asking me about next year,” said Garnett prior to his 15th All-Star Game appearance, “and I had no insight into saying that I was going to be a definite All-Star, so it came out like I’m saying, ‘This is my last,’ but I’m not an egotistical guy or none of that, and I wasn’t going to just say, ‘Yeah, I’m going to be an All-Star, so I’m going to be here next year.’ To be honest, I’m more than grateful to be here. I’m obviously honored and humbled to be here with this great class of guys, and I wasn’t going to make a comment that I felt like was out of hand — to say that next year I would be here, because next year no one knows. That’s where those contents came from.”
He was asked again.
“Every year you make this, it’s not something that you take for granted,” he said. “That’s all I’m saying. Some guys go a whole career and never get a chance to obviously experience an All-Star event, and I’m more than grateful. You know what I’m saying? I wasn’t going to be in a position to where I was speaking on next year and my production next year and what it is. I have no idea, so that’s where those contents mainly came from.”
|Doc Rivers on D&C: ‘We need players’||at 10:24 am ET|
“Danny [Ainge] and I, we thought about it and we all have been thinking about it since all the injuries,” Rivers said. “With the last one with Barbosa, now we can’t look at one position anymore. That’s what we were looking at — looking at size first, then a guard. Now we’re looking at players. We need players. We need to pick up a couple of players as soon as we can get them. That’s what basically we’re doing.
“But we don’t want to do anything so quick that somebody else comes available and then we don’t have room because we’re at the cap threshold. We have to be very careful in what we do.”
Asked what kind of player would help most right away, Rivers said: “I would say a ball-handling guard. It’s no longer a point guard, it’s just a guard. If I had my perfect guard for this group right now, it would be a guard that can play multiple positions and that can shoot, that has some toughness.
“And then you need a big. You’re not going to find a center, so a 4. Obviously a 5 would be great, but a 4 that can stretch the floor. Or a 4 that can rebound, just a great rebounding 4 that has skills.
“That’s the list. There’s so many places to look. The China league ends in a week. So now some of the American players that are playing over there will begin coming back over to our league. The D-League. And then obviously through a trade. We don’t have a lot of assets to trade, so we have to be very careful there.”
Added Rivers: “We’re just looking for the best available player now. Obviously it would be great to have a shooter, one more shooter for us. Then we need a big that can rebound and defend.”
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