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Irish Coffee: Paul Pierce’s legacy 11.04.10 at 1:40 pm ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …

Shaquille O’Neal watched in the locker room as Paul Pierce passed, clinging to the ball commemorating his 20,000th career point and smiling, ear-to-ear.

O’Neal turned to Celtics assistant coach Armond Hill and said, “Didn’t I score my 20,000th career point on you?”

No, it wasn’t quite 26 years ago when Hill hung up his shoes that Shaq reached 20,000, but it was eight seasons ago — signaling just how far Pierce has to go in order to reach Shaq & Co. in the top-five scorers of all-time.

Still, what Pierce achieved Wednesday night againt the Bucks doesn’t happen too often in the NBA, although it may not seem that way, considering three of the 35 other players in the history of the league to accomplish the feat were just a few feet away from him in the locker room.

“He’s been one of the best players in the league for a very long time,” Jermaine O’Neal said after Wednesday night’s game. “It’s hard to be that good for a long time for multiple reasons: aging, injuries, change in regimes — sometimes that has an effect on your game. But he’s been very consistent at what he does, and he’s very deserving of it.”

Of the 36 NBA players to reach the 20,000-point plateau, only 18 of them scored their first 20,000 for a single team (that includes Pierce). Of those 18, only 16 scored their first 20 grand in the same city. And of those 16, only nine began and ended their careers with the same team. Obviously, Pierce has the opportunity to be the 10th.

“It makes me think about what I went through in my career — just how tough it is to play with one team,” Allen said. “At some points, it gets rocky, because you hit those low points where a team’s not winning.

“Franchises are cyclical in sports. In those lean years he was able to stick it out here, and people still stuck behind him and the team, so that’s commendable. It doesn’t happen a lot these days in sports.”

Pierce’s career in Boston hasn’t been without its ups and downs. In 2005, he was reportedly offered to the Portland Trail Blazers for the No. 3 pick and Nick Van Exel, and the Blazers instead traded the pick to Utah (the Jazz turned that selection into Deron Williams).

“Things change, management changes, sometimes the view changes,” added Jermaine O’Neal. “Once that happens, players tend to move around. It’s a special thing to do it for one team and once city for 13 long years. You’ve got to tip your hat off to him as a peer, as a teammate, and someone that’s watched him. I’ve been a fan of him for a long time.”

None of Pierce’s Celtic teammates and fellow 20,000-point scorers — Garnett, Allen or Shaq — scored their first 20 grand for the same team.

Boston Celtics' Paul Pierce (34) celebrates after making his 20,000th career point on a free throw in overtime during an NBA basketball game against the Milwaukee Bucks, Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2010, in Boston. The Celtics won 105-102.

Paul Pierce is the fourth member of his own team to reach the 20,000-point plateau. (AP)

FOUR PLAYERS, 80,000 POINTS

Among the Celtics’ four 20,000-point scorers, only Shaq scored his first 20,000 in fewer games (727) than Pierce (889). It took Allen (962) and Garnett (979) almost another season’s worth of scoring to reach the mark.

Our own Mike Petraglia captured Pierce’s reaction to reaching the plateau, so let’s take a look at how the other three felt when they reached 20 grand …

There’s a funny story (depending on how you look at it) surrounding Shaq’s 20,000th point. He scored it as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers on March 20, 2008, in 107-99 victory against the Kings in Sacramento.

However, as a result of Shaq’s criticism of then-King Mike Bibby‘s selection to the Team USA roster over Allen Iverson, a friend of Bibby’s defaced the commemorative ball shortly after the game, inscribing “Shaq is an a**hole” on it.

The defamation clearly angered Shaq, as did the lack of acknowledgement from the Lakers organization on the achievement.

“I’ll just have to get another ball at 30,000,” O’Neal told The Los Angeles Times in 2003.

Shaq currently stands at 28,281 points — fifth all-time. Meanwhile, Garnett has 22,345 at 22nd all-time. KG scored his 20,000th point as a member of the Celtics on March 8, 2008, in a 119-89 blowout of the Memphis Grizzlies — oddly enough, on an assist from Pierce.

“I wasn’t aware coming in,” Garnett told The Boston Globe in 2008. “It’s a great accomplishment for me. I’m more grateful to every coach, point guard, staff member, everybody whose put me in a position to be successful and I just say thank you.

“It’s a bit more meaningful as a Celtic when it happened. It seems like things are lining up for something more beautiful, like a championship.”

A year and a half later, also as a Celtic, on December 10, 2009, Allen scored his 20,000th career point — fittingly, on a 3-pointer in a 104-102 victory against the Washington Wizards. Since then, he’s climbed to No. 28 all-time.

“It’s interesting how basketball’s such a team sport, but it’s governed by so many individual statistics,” Allen told The Globe. “I’m just grateful I’ve had great teammates, I’ve had great coaches, and I’ve had pretty good organizations, and that’s helped me be where I am today.”

In another  strange coincidence that will forever tie the Celtics’ Big Three together, Allen scored his 18,000th point on the night Garnett reached 20,000, and Pierce scored his 19,000th point on the night Allen reached 20,000. Welcome to The Twilight Zone.

PIERCE: GREATEST CELTICS SCORER EVER?

Larry Bird (21,791; No. 25 all-time) and John Havlicek (26,395; No. 11 all-time) are each one of the nine NBA players to score more than 20,000 points, beginning and ending their careers with the same team. Of the two, only Bird got to 20 grand in fewer games (809) than Pierce.

Pierce will in all likelihood pass Bird in the 2011-12 season, but will he ever catch Havlicek?

Since he is signed through the 2013-14 season, Pierce would have to average 19.8 points while playing every single game throughout the course of his contract in order to tie Havlicek. That’s definitely unrealistic.

However, should he play an additional two seasons for the Celtics after his current deal, averaging 16 points and 67 games per year (including this one), he’ll surpass Havlicek to become the greatest scorer in Celtics history.

(Have a question, concern or conception for tomorrow’s Irish Coffee? Send a message to @brohrbach on Twitter.)

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Ray Allen on D&H: Trash talking is a part of the game at 12:33 pm ET
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Ray Allen

Ray Allen

Celtics guard Ray Allen joined Dale & Holley to talk about a number of topics including what it feels like to score 20,000 points and whether he seriously considered leaving Boston last summer. (To hear the whole conversation, visit the Dale & Holley audio on demand page).

He was also asked about the incident between Kevin Garnett and Charlie Villanueva.

“There’s a lot of instances that go on during the game,” Allen said. “I’ve heard a lot of trash talking in my day. I know Kevin and Charlie were going at it. One of the things about Kevin that people don’t know is he wanted to go to UConn. He talks so much trash about UConn now only because I went there. Charlie was the recipient of that trash talk because he went to UConn. I thought it was all in good fun. I don’t think he said anything that was out of bounds.

“So many people were asking, is trash talking out of bounds? What is off limits? So many people say so many things, so I don’t know if Kev said it to the extent of what [Villanueva said], but at the same time, that’s all within the lines. We’re trying to play basketball. I can only imagine what the guys in the NFL say to each other.”

Allen was asked if anything was out of bounds. He answered: “If you have something that’s going to get underneath somebody’s skin and you know it will keep them from playing basketball, at that moment when you’re playing basketball, I got to do what I got to do to win the game.” He added, “Some guys are trash talkers and the guys who can’t take it, they’ve got to stay out of that arena.”

Allen also shared his thoughts on Michael Jordan and why trash talking him was a bad idea.

“One thing, MJ was nice with his trash talking,” Allen said. “There were certain guys that he couldn’t stand, but if you said something to him, then he was going to shoot the next 10 shots in a row. The coach on the other side was like, ‘Man, why did you say something to him? Leave him alone. Do not push his buttons.’ So everybody knew don’t talk trash to MJ because he’s going to be able and score and dunk on you, whatever.

“Guys in the league, you just know who to mess with and who not to mess with. Some guys just go crazy. Some guys just use it. They look at you and say, ‘I’m going to attack you from here on out just because you said something to me.’ That’s part of the game and people love the personalities of [athletes], but everybody’s different. ”

More highlights from their conversation after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

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‘The Truth’ about Paul Pierce and 20,000 points at 1:24 am ET
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There are many reasons Paul Pierce is considered ‘The Truth’ around the NBA. He is the go-to guy and captain of the Celtics who leads the team by word and action. On Wednesday, he did both and his reward was a place in NBA history – a place only 35 others have reached – 20,000 points in a career.

“Coming into the game I knew it, but I didn’t want to press it, but I knew I needed 23 I think tonight to get it, I knew once I got to 22 I looked up and it was a great opportunity, as a player about certain things and they know,” Pierce admitted.

With the TD Garden crowd rising in anticipation, Pierce became just the 36th player in NBA history to reach the milestone when he made the first of two free throws with 13.3 seconds left in overtime during the Celtics’ 105-102 win over Milwaukee on Wednesday night. Pierce followed that by converting the second to put the Celtics up four points, giving them a cushion they would need to win their third straight.

He spoke the truth about his feelings afterward.

“You know it was an emotional moment for me, tough for me to swallow,” Pierce said. “I was just thinking about all the years I have been here and you don’t see it to often where a player accomplishes that kind of feat playing with one team. It is a great accomplishment. The fans seeing my ups and downs throughout the years and sticking with me, just to be able to accomplish this type of feat, it means a lot to me I am not going to downplay it.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Ray Allen on Twitter & NBA: ‘It’s a very fragile world’ 11.03.10 at 8:42 pm ET
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Not that this is news but Ray Allen is no Kevin Garnett. He admitted as much before Wednesday’s game against Milwaukee when asked his take on “Twitter War” between KG and Charlie Villanueva.

“I don’t want a mic on those guys in the NFL and I don’t want a mic on these guys in the NBA,” Allen said. “You have the opportunity to hear some things that maybe you don’t want to hear or some kids don’t need to hear but that’s the heat of the battle, that’s in competition. I’ve never been a trash-talker. I believe in close competition you can find something you can beat your guy at. Most guys know when they’re beat and I’m not a pound-on-my-chest player and never have been.

“If I just made a three or a dunk, whatever it may be, I think everybody saw it. I don’t need to draw more attention to it.”

Allen said the first he heard of the ‘Twitter war’ between Villanueva and Garnett was while he was on his way to Wednesday’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks. Allen said athletes have to be careful what they say on and off the court and now on-line.

“It’s a very fragile world that we live in now,” Allen said. “You almost have to have people around you to protect everything that you say and do and somebody has to watch you. As athletes, I think we have to be more responsible.”

Villanueva, via his Twitter page after Tuesday’s game in Detroit, accused Garnett of calling him a ‘cancer patient’ while Garnett said in a statement Wednesday that it was a misunderstanding and and that he called Villanueva a ‘cancer’ to his team. Allen said he believes athletes are under a spotlight that’s getting hotter and hotter.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Charlie Villanueva, Detroit Pistons, Kevin Garnett Print  |  Email  |  Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
Doc Rivers backs Kevin Garnett’s version at 7:59 pm ET
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Doc Rivers (AP)

Doc Rivers (AP)

Doc Rivers said he was standing next to Kevin Garnett when he said whatever it was that he said to Charlie Villanueva Tuesday night and the coach stands by his player’s account. “I’m not going to go off on a tangent on this whole thing,” Rivers said before the C’s played the Bucks. “I actually heard what Kevin said. I was standing right there. What he released is what he said. I’m going to leave it at that.”

Villanueva wrote on his Twitter account: “KG called me a cancer patient.”

Garnett responded in a statement: “My comment to Charlie Villanueva was in fact ‘You are cancerous to your team and our league.’”

Rivers didn’t care for the way Villanueva handled the situation. “I used to play and I can’t imagine us running and talking about what was said,’ Rivers said. He then joked, “Larry [Bird] has said some terrible stuff to me and I’m still hurt by it. There are times when guys do cross the line, but you get over that too. I don’t think talking about what guys said during the game… I just don’t find a place for it.”

Rivers acknowledged that he’s uncomfortable with Twitter and the Celtics have a roster full of players who actively tweet.

“What we try to tell them is it’s your life and have fun and all that, but what goes on [with] the team stays on the team,” Rivers said. “I think so far they’ve been pretty good with it, but this is a new generation and we’re going to continue to have problems with this until we figure it out.”

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Kevin Garnett: ‘I would never be insensitive’ at 4:48 pm ET
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Kevin Garnett

Kevin Garnett just released the following statement in reaction to Charlie Villanueva‘s accusations on Twitter following Tuesday night’s Celtics-Pistons game:

I am aware there was a major miscommunication regarding something I said on the court last night. My comment to Charlie Villanueva was in fact ‘You are cancerous to your team and our league.’ I would never be insensitive to the brave struggle that cancer patients endure. I have lost loved ones to this deadly disease and have a family member currently undergoing treatment. I would never say anything that distasteful. The game of life is far bigger than the game of basketball.

Garnett’s version of the story is far more tame than Villanueva’s claim on Twitter that KG called him “a cancer patient.”

Side note: If KG’s take is accurate, I’ve got to say … that’s some pretty good trash talk. And shame on Villanueva for not only taking to Twitter — but misconstruing Garnett’s message. It’ll be interesting to hear Villanueva’s reaction to KG’s reaction.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Charlie Villanueva, Detroit Pistons, Kevin Garnett Print  |  Email  |  Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
Irish Coffee: Did Kevin Garnett go too far? at 11:04 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …

First, the evidence, which is circumstantial so far, considering it comes from Charlie Villanueva‘s Twitter account. Still, here are the pointed comments the Detroit Pistons wingman made about Kevin Garnett between 2 and 3 a.m. this morning …

  • “KG talks alot of crap, he’s prob never been in a fight, I would love to get in a ring with him, I will expose him”
  • KG called me a cancer patient, I’m pissed because, u know how many people died from cancer, and he’s tossing it like it’s a joke.”
  • “I wouldn’t even trip about that, but a cancer patient, I know way 2 many people who passed away from it, and I have a special place 4 those.”

Villanueva suffers from alopecia universalis, a skin disease that results in hair loss on the scalp. He won the 2006 Community Assist Award for his work as a spokesman for the National Alopecia Areata Foundation.

If Villanueva’s accusations are proven to be true, man, he’s sure gone too far this time.

In his time with the Celtics, he’s had some notable taunting episodes with Jose Calderon and Jerryd Bayless — among countless others. He’s been suspended for striking Andrew Bogut and Quentin Richardson.

But this would be the worst of them all.

Talk about a low blow. There may not be a person alive who hasn’t been touched by cancer, and that includes Garnett. I’m not saying he was badmouthing cancer. He’s done his share of charity work — including when he made a dream come true for one 17-year-old kid who was suffering from the disease. Still, it would be a bad choice of words. A terrible choice of words.

Sure, this stuff might be said on a nightly basis in the NBA, but does that make it right?

Whether he likes or not, by wearing Celtics green, Garnett represents the city of Boston — the same city where the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute was founded.

If KG indeed made a comment about Villanueva being a cancer patient, an apology — at the very least — is in order. A charitable donation to Dana-Farber wouldn’t hurt, either.

Boston Celtics' Rajon Rondo (9) goes to the basket past Detroit Pistons' Austin Daye (5) in the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010, in Auburn Hills, Mich. The Celtics defeated the Pistons 109-86.

Rajon Rondo became the fastest NBA player to reach 67 assists after his 17 last night. (AP)

GUARDING RAJON RONDO

On the heels of Rajon Rondo‘s historic four-game start in this NBA season (no other player has amassed 67 assists in their first four games), many experts are wondering just how the heck you’re supposed to guard the Celtics point guard.

HoopSpeak’s Beckley Mason suggested setting up a trap against Rondo, denying him the ball to force the offense through his teammates, dare him to score 40 points, or, at the very least, guard him close …

In his phenomenal 24 assist game, Rondo only had one assist on a pure dribble drive. Three were on cuts or catch-and-slashes, five were on fast breaks, five came from just handling the ball and finding an open shooter coming off a screen and 11 were out of the pick and pop or roll. So how smart of a strategy is applying no pressure to Rondo when he’s more than happy to hook up his skilled teammates?

After discussing the issue with NBA Analyst David Thorpe, TrueHoop’s Henry Abbott agreed wholeheartedly — guard Rondo, closely, or allow him to do “whatever he wants.” Here’s how Thorpe told Abbott he would guard the C’s record-setter …

 

I’d get in his face. You can go with size, or you can go with speed. But either way I’d try to hunt like lions do. One lioness goes out there and chases the prey right into the trap, where the other lions are waiting. I wouldn’t need my one defender to keep him on the perimeter – that’s impossible – but you can at least push him to places on the floor where things might be tougher for him.

For instance, almost every team knows almost every other team’s play calls. So you know which direction he wants to go as he crosses midcourt. I’d look at the data and see, of the different way he approaches the hoop, which areas of the floor, or approaches to the rim, give him the most trouble. Then I’d steer him there, with my best help defenders and shot-blockers ready to meet him.

Then I’d mix it up. Keep him from getting comfortable. Out of timeouts, you might try someone else on him. If he brings the ball up the left side of the floor, maybe have the defense ready to force him to a different spot. Keep him from getting comfortable. It might not work, but sagging off him all night, that’s clearly not working. At least you give yourself a shot. Maybe you can force a few more turnovers, and inspire a few more tough shots. That can turn a game.

There are a few problems with these theories: 1) You actually have to have someone on your team quick enough to guard Rondo up close; 2) If you’re throwing multiple defenders at him, that leaves guys open (and Rondo will find them); 3) You can deny Rondo the ball all you want, but the Celtics are going to find a way to get it into his hands; and 4) How do you dare him to score 40 points, other than to sag off of him defensively?

In other Rondo news, last night he became just the 16th player since 1986 to record at least 17 assists without a turnover. Celtics coach Doc Rivers actually did it in 2002 with the Hawks. John Stockton actually achieved that feat three separate times against the C’s.

RICK CRAZY LIKE A FOX

After getting booted from “Dancing with the Stars” last night, former Celtic and Laker Rick Fox said dancing on the show was harder than Game 7 of the NBA Finals. Of course, he never played a Game 7 in the NBA Finals, but still …

(Have a question, concern or conception for tomorrow’s Irish Coffee? Send a message to @brohrbach on Twitter.)

Read More: Boston Celtics, Charlie Villanueva, Dancing with the Stars, Kevin Garnett Print  |  Email  |  Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
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