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Irish Coffee: Is Kobe Bryant a winner or whiner? 11.24.10 at 11:19 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

All Kobe Bryant has ever cared about is team-building, winning and  championships.

Wait, what?

In an interview with Yahoo! Sports columnist Adrian Wojarowski, Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant waxes poetically about his drive for success and what he learned from two of the greatest basketball minds ever: Bill Russell and … Michael Jackson?

After reading the story, dry heaving several times and doing a little research, I want to make one thing clear: When he has good teammates and is winning, all Kobe Bryant has ever cared about is team-building, winning and  championships.

Let’s take a look at a few of Bryant’s quotes from Wojnarowski’s piece …

“It sounds weird, I guess, but it’€™s true: I was really mentored by the preparation of Michael Jackson. … That’€™s the mentality that I have — it’€™s not an athletic one. It’€™s not from Michael Jordan. It’€™s not from other athletes. It’€™s from Michael Jackson.”

One question from that nugget: Is Kobe the first young mind ever to be proud of being “mentored” by Michael Jackson? Too soon?

“Guys have voices now, want to build brands,” Bryant said. “I don’t identify with it, but I understand where it’€™s going, why it’s going there. That’s not for me.”

On the same day the interview was published, a story that Nike-sponsored Kobe is going to wear special “Grinch” style green shoes against the Miami Heat on Christmas day. But, you know, Bryant would never want to build a brand or anything.

“I focus on one thing and one thing only — that’s trying to win as many championships as I can.”

Let’s not forget Bryant’s thirst for winning from 2004-07, during which time he wanted to be traded, shot roughly 15,000 shots per game and won 34, 45 and 42 games. Kobe has never won more than 45 games without Shaquille O’Neal or Pau Gasol, who have been the most dominant centers in the league during their respective tenures alongside Bryant.

Meanwhile, Paul Pierce‘s 2001-02 Boston Celtics won 49 games with Tony Battie at center, Kevin Garnett‘s 2003-04 Minnesota Timberwolves won 58 games with a Ervin Johnson/Michael Olowakandi combination at center, and Ray Allen’s 2004-05 Seattle SuperSonics won 52 games with Jerome James at center.

Now, I’m in no way arguing that any of those three guys are better than Kobe. Bryant is one of the top five guards ever to play the game. But this notion that he has always been “all about winning” is absurd. He’s only all about winning when he’s winning.

Speaking of the C’s, here’s what Bryant had to say about the Celtics-Lakers rivalry …

“Now that’€™s a war. Boston is a great city to go to, all the history. If you’re an opponent, they hate your [expletive] guts — like New York, like Chicago, all those Eastern cities. That’€™s the one that gets me excited. If you’€™re a basketball purist, that’€™s the [expletive] you want to see.”

Well, at least Kobe’s right about one thing.

A CELTICS THANKSGIVING FEAST

Well, Thanksgiving is almost upon us, so the obligatory Turkey Day sports stories are popping up all over the place. ESPN.com caught up with a bunch of Boston athletes to ask them what they like most about Thanksgiving? Here are the answers from Celtics players …

  • Shaquille O’Neal: “Lucille’s [his mom’s] fried chicken and macaroni and cheese. My favorite part of Thanksgiving is eating!”
  • Glen Davis: “Macaroni and cheese, but I most look forward to cutting the turkey. I’m the one who carves the turkey, and I think I do a good job.”
  • Nate Robinson: “My favorite Thanksgiving food is turkey, ham ‘€¦ you’ve got to do both. Turkey, ham, dressing with maple corn bread is real good, what else? Yams and macaroni and cheese. I like having all my family being together and having a good time, and then there is always football on that day. We all watch football.”
  • Kendrick Perkins: “I love, love, love turkey, baked turkey actually. I love the football games that are on, being able to play cards and games and stuff like that with the family at the house. I think Thanksgiving to me is one of the most underrated holidays. Everybody looks forward to Christmas, but I think Thanksgiving is more like where you wake up to the food, just the smell of the house and stuff like that is all just warming and stuff, so that’s what I look forward to.”

Honestly, my family has never had mac and cheese for Thanksgiving, but it sounds amazing. Then again, maybe I’d just end up weighing as much as Shaq and Big Baby. In my 6-foot-1 frame, that wouldn’t be pretty.

IS JERMAINE O’NEAL OVERPAID?

On average, NBA teams pay roughly $1.7 million per victory. Based on who got paid the most to produce the least amount of wins, Forbes Magazine determined the most overpaid players of the 2009-10 season. No. 2 on the list? Jermaine O’Neal.

That shouldn’t worry Celtics fans too much, as he was making $23 million when he statistically produced a whopping 3.1 wins last season. His true value, according to Forbest, was $5.3 million, and the C’s signed him to a $5.7 million deal in the offseason.

Still, it’s looking as though he could actually be worse than 2009-10, when he averaged 13.5 points and seven rebounds in 28 minutes per game.

By the way, the Orlando Magic’s Rashard Lewis was the most overpaid player in the league last year, collecting $18.9 million for 14.1 points and 1.5 assists in 32.9 minutes per game. This year, Lewis is worse, averaging just 11.6 points and 1.2 assists in 31.8 minutes per.

CELTICS PLAYING THE SIMS GAME?

According to NBA Fan House, The Celtics’ NBA Development League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws, signed former University of Michigan forward DeShawn Sims to replace the injured Stephane Lasme.

Sims played for the C’s in the Orlando Pro Summer League over the summer and will join Celtics training camp invitees Jamar Smith, Mario West and Tiny Gallon on the Red Claws’ roster. The 6-foot-8, 235-pound Sims averaged 16.8 points and 7.6 rebounds per game for the Wolverines as a senior, earning Second Team All-Big Ten honors. …

Well, that’s it for today, folks. Have a Happy Thanksgiving and try to catch a high school football game. Go Barnstable Red Raiders. Beat Falmouth.

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

Read More: Boston Celtics, Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers, NBA
NBA Power Rankings, 10/14 10.14.10 at 12:12 pm ET
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1. LA Lakers: Lamar Odom hired his mother-in-law, Kris Jenner, as his new manager. If the knee injuries to Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum don’t spell doom for the Lakers, this could, as anybody who has seen “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” can attest. We’ll leave them in the top spot — until Kris makes Odom pose nude or something.

2. Boston: After his jumper to beat the Knicks, Paul Pierce appears to be up to his old game-winning ways. And the Celtics bench seems to keep getting deeper and deeper. The play of Semih Erden, Stephane Lasme and Luke Harangody has been an encouraging sign. So far, the injury bug has only claimed Delonte West, and he’s suspended for 10 games anyway.

3. Miami: First it was Dwyane Wade’s hamstring, and now it’s LeBron James‘ leg cramps. I heard somewhere that if Wade really does miss the remainder of the preseason, the Heat’s Big 3 (do they have a nickname yet?) will have only played a few minutes together before taking on the Celtics on opening night. I think it’s just a marketing ploy.

4. Oklahoma City: Larry Brown recently called the Thunder everything that’s right with the NBA: young, talented and well-behaved. I couldn’t agree more. This team should be fun to watch all season long, especially if Longar Longar makes the roster.

5. Dallas: With this new technical foul rule, how much in fines do you think Mark Cuban will spend this year? I’m putting the over/under at $1 million. In other news, I love the nickname for Mavericks rookie Dominique Jones: DoJo.

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Read More: Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, NBA, Paul Pierce
Mock NBA Fantasy Basketball Draft 10.05.10 at 4:58 pm ET
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A breakdown of the first five rounds of a mock 10-team fantasy basketball draft, in addition to the top-10 late-round sleepers and the top-10 players to avoid. Full disclosure: I am unstoppable at fantasy basketball. I also consulted commissioner James Hough of our annual league, Mondo Rondo.

ROUND 1
(NOTE: Your season depends solely on the health of this pick.)

1. Kevin Durant: Team USA’s best player; absolute monster; fills every stat category.
2. LeBron James: Has a legit chance to average a triple-double.
3. Kobe Bryant: Even if not 100 percent, the game’s best player can’t slip past No. 3.
4. Chris Paul: Might be the No. 2 pick if not for the whole knee surgery thing.
5. Deron Williams: Averaged at least 18 points & 10 assists per game last 3 seasons.
6. Danny Granger: Most underrated player in the NBA on a bad team translates into numbers.
7. Dwight Howard: You’re giving up FT% with this pick … but likely winning FG%, blocks & boards.
8. Dwyane Wade: Stats will suffer beside LeBron, but still warrants first-round pick.
9. Dirk Nowitzki: The first-round guy I’d least like to have on my team still fills the statsheet.
10. Pau Gasol: He may look like a llama, but he’s the best offensive center in the game.

ROUND 2(NOTE: Either diversify your roster or lock categories down in your favor.)

11. Chris Bosh: He’ll still score, grab rebounds, block shots and make free throws.
12. Steve Nash: It’s a good thing defense isn’t really a category in fantasy hoops.
13. Amar’e Stoudemire: Last season under D’Antoni: 25.2 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 2.1 bpg, 59.0 FG%, 80.5 FT%.
14. Josh Smith: Draft him with Howard, and you win blocks & boards every week.
15. Stephen Curry: A first-round pick on most boards, I wouldn’t take him until now.
16. Brook Lopez: Never would’ve predicted he’d be a top-20 pick.
17. Carmelo Anthony: A top-10 player, but on a team he doesn’t want to play for.
18. Rajon Rondo: Points, assists, steals and FG% have gone up every year.
19. Derrick Rose: Is anybody else thinking he’s going to have a huge season?
20. David Lee: You can count the number of centers who have average 20 and 12 on one hand.

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Read More: Fantasy, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James
Celtics: Irish Coffee 10.04.10 at 10:23 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

In an appearance at the London School of Basketball over the weekend, Kobe Bryant claimed he could beat LeBron James 1-0n-1 in his sleep.

“I’d win, I’d win” Bryant said. “That’s what I do. One on one is … that’s easy for me, you know. Playing one on one is how I grew up playing, it’s like my thing. LeBron is more like a Magic Johnson, he’s a great passer and plays an all-around game. At the core of me, I’m a one-on-one player. I’d do that in my sleep.”

That’s a bold statement, but I tend to agree. He’s arrogant, but his breakdown is pretty much spot on. So, what do you think? Could any current Celtics beat Kobe 1-on-1? I think Ray Allen could beat him in HORSE.

Why Boston hates L.A.

This is the most ridiculous story I’ve ever heard. So, the L.A. Times is doing a weekly series on its Lakers Blog community. Each writer explains a little about himself, including how he became a Lakers fan. Well, this guy claims he was a longtime Celtics fan who became a loyal Lakers fan. I say that’s impossible.

“I liked winners, and they won every year–like the Yankees,” wrote Paul Hefti. “Following the Celtics, Yankees and Bruins seemed a natural thing to do. … I had moved to L.A. and the Lakers really got a hold of me. They were so clean, pretty, sunshiny–all things L.A.–and I was hooked. Getting beaten by the Celtics really started to kill me–my Boston family never forgave me.”

Is that the most ridiculous paragraph ever written in sports journalism history? No wonder Boston fans hate L.A. No true Celtics fan would ever become a Lakers fan. EVER. Anyone who roots for the Lakers and Yankees is called a fair-weather fan. Not a fan. And that’s the end of that.

Celtics idol?

Interested in singing the national anthem at a Celtics home game this season? Show up at the Hard Rock Café between noon and 5 p.m. today to audition in front of former New Edition member Michael Bivins, one-time American Idol contestant Ayla Brown and JAMN 94.5 personality Melissa. More info here. Try not to pull a Roseanne Barr or a Carl Lewis while attempting “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Celtics SCVNGR hunt

Foursquare competitor SCVNGR teamed with the Celtics to allow users to compete for a pair of season tickets. C’s fans with Android or iPhones can use SCVNGR to hunt around Boston, completing tasks at locations tied to the team. The fan with the most points by Oct. 22 wins a pair of season tix.

I’m not sure they thought of these, but I’d include: rub Bill Russell‘s beard, find the old Scotch ‘n Sirloin and imitate this kid’s dance moves step for step on a stairwell in Boston.

Read More: Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, SCVNGR,
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.

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Read More: Bill Russell, Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James
Celtics: Morning Irish Coffee 09.24.10 at 9:11 am ET
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Interesting read from Fan House on former Celtics guard Nate Archibald, who hopes to become the only guy on the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players list to earn a Ph.D. in education. A member of Boston’s 1981 championship team, Tiny entered the NBA in 1970 without a college degree, earning his bachelor’s degree at UTEP during summers off and getting his master’s at night from Fordham.

“It might not be a big deal to some people, but to me, getting the Ph.D. will be my greatest accomplishment,” said Archibald in the piece. “I’m no Einstein, that’s for sure, and I’m not smarter than anyone else, but maybe I’ve been more persistent. And I understand the value of education.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m shocked to learn that most NBA players don’t have a Ph.D. Are we sure that Ron Artest isn’t putting diplomas on his walls?

NBA Jersey Sales

For the third straight season, Kobe Bryant tops the NBA’s list of highest-selling jerseys, but the Celtics placed three players in the league’s top 15: 3. Kevin Garnett; 8. Paul Pierce; and 11. Nate Robinson. As a team, the Celtics rank No. 2 behind the Lakers in jersey sales. Semih Erden and Von Wafer are yet to crack the top 15.

NBA 2K11 Player Ratings

The NBA 2K11 video game released its player ratings for each team’s projected starting five. The Celtics have the third-highest average rating (80.2) in the game, behind the Heat and Lakers (tied at 82.2).

Rajon Rondo (87) is Boston’s highest-rated player and the league’s fourth-ranked point guard (behind Dwyane Wade-97, Chris Paul-95 and Deron Williams-92).  No surprise there. Everywhere else? That’s a different question.

Pierce (83) is the sixth-rated player at his position (behind Andre Iguadola and Gerald Wallace?). Garnett ranks eighth among power forwards (behind David Lee and Josh Smith?). Ray Allen is the 12th-ranked shooting guard (behind OJ Mayo, Stephen Jackson and Vince Carter?). And Kendrick Perkins (72 when healthy) is ranked 16th among centers (behind Greg Oden, Marc Gasol, Ben Wallace and Andrea Bargnani?).

Celtics Scratch Ticket

The Celtics haven’t been in the NBA lottery since 2007, but they released a scratch ticket called “Celtics Cash.” Apparently, there’s more than $20 million dollars in prizes, so the good news for fans is that combined they’ll make less than Garnett ($21.2 million) this season!

NBA’s New Uniforms

The NBA unveiled new uniforms for all 30 teams. Don’t worry. They’re just lighter fitting, like when George Costanza introduced cotton unis to the Yankees. The Celtics are one of three teams–along with the Bulls and Blazers–that will stick with the traditional round-neck tanktop look, as opposed to the v-neck cutoff sleeves look. They’ll also be returning the tiny shorts that Nate Archibald used to wear. Just kidding.

Read More: Celtics, Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant
Poll: Avery Bradley top rookie defender 09.19.10 at 11:18 am ET
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If there’s one thing the Celtics think rookie guard Avery Bradley can do right away, it’s defend. That’s also the opinion of his fellow first-year players who overwhelmingly voted Bradley the top defensive player in the rookie class, according to a survey posted on NBA.com.

It’s not surprising that Bradley won the player vote, but what is interesting is that he dominated the results.

Which rookie is the best defender?

1. Avery Bradley, Boston — 41.7 percent
2. Hassan Whiteside, Sacramento — 8.3 percent
3. Lazar Hayward, Minnesota — 5.6 percent
Ekpe Udoh, Golden State — 5.6 percent

Bradley also received votes in categories ranging from best shooter and playmaker to most overlooked and likely to have the best career.

One other interesting tidbit from the poll: Kobe Bryant was the runaway winner for favorite player among the rookies.

Read More: Avery Bradley, Kobe Bryant,
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