|Rivers embraces Celtics history||05.21.10 at 4:15 pm ET|
WALTHAM — History and tradition are wonderful, but there are times when the burden can be too great. Times when the ones who built that legacy feel the need to defend it, and in so doing, wind up taking shots at the current structure. Take the Chicago Bears who are getting criticism from Gale Sayers, among others.
The Celtics are one of the most unique franchises in all of sports, and their past is always playing with the present.
Take Paul Pierce’s epic Game 7 showdown with LeBron James in the 2008 playoffs. The immediate comparison, of course, was to Larry Bird in 1988 against Dominique Wilkins and the Hawks. It’s hard to create your own path when everything has already been done before your time.
But the Celtics embrace their history, and it helps that their alumni embrace it too; as history.
“Our guys are the best,” Doc Rivers said. “That’s the biggest thing that I tell people all the time. From afar you think, man you see all these ex-players around, are they still trying to hold on to their little piece? I don’t know about other organizations, actually I do, but this one is different. Our guys so much want you to do well because you’re a Celtic and they don’t worry about their legacy because they have championships too. I think it’s amazing. The best I’ve ever seen. [John] Havlicek, [Bill] Russell, all of them. When they come around all they tell you is that they want you and how to win.”
The video montage that runs before Celtics games features ex-Celtic greats from Red to Larry to Russ all speaking about their time in Boston as players and what it meant to them to be a Celtics. It’s a subtle reminder, although perhaps not that subtle, of the expectations.
“We brainwash [them] a little bit too and we do it on purpose,” Rivers said. “We show a lot of film of those guys. Larry Bird, some of the things he said, all the stuff about playing in Boston. The history of their voice, for [coaching purposes], is far better than the history of their play.”
|Movie critics||02.27.10 at 2:45 pm ET|
There was plenty of hype surrounding the debut of the HBO movie, “Magic & Bird: A Courtship of Rivals.” Our own Jess Camerato summarized it.
On Friday, Celtics coach Doc Rivers thought his team could learn something more from that film rather than tape of their meltdown on Thursday against Cleveland.
“I just thought it was a good thing to watch,” Rivers said. “I saw it in L.A. the night before the Laker game and I loved it. I thought there were a lot of great things in it for our team, not just for our team but anyone who plays basketball or anybody who likes sports actually.
“I thought [Friday] was a good day. I didn’t think we needed work. I thought we needed to be together. So instead of watching us play, and I don’t know if anybody wanted to watch that, instead of watching a horror film, I decided to watch a good film.”
It unfortunately did not have the desired impact – at least initially – as the Celtics came out and played one of their flattest games of the season. They allowed the 5-52 Nets to outscore them 44-24 in the first half and take command, leading by as many 14 midway through the third.
“I don’t know if it had any effect short term,” Rivers said. “But I just thought it was a good day for us.
“We’ll see. It’s really good. There’s a lot of team stuff in it and just a lot of good messages in it, and more than just the Magic-Bird thing. I thought Bird was phenomenal because I thought it captured him exactly as he was.”
|Pierce officially in Three-Point Shootout||02.05.10 at 3:37 pm ET|
Paul Pierce is now officially among the field of six who will take part in the NBA Three-Point Shootout on Sat., Feb. 12, in Dallas. Pierce’s 46.7 percent from long range this year leads the group, though his 37.0 percent career rate from distance is the second worst among the six competitors, behind only 2009 champion Daequan Cook of the Heat.
No member of the Celtics has won since Larry Bird took each of the first three Three-Point Shootout titles, from 1986-88. Read the rest of this entry »
|Isiah lashes out at Magic, Bird||10.22.09 at 4:32 pm ET|
Isiah Thomas responded to criticism from his longtime friend Magic Johnson by lashing out at the Lakers legend in a story today on SportsIllustrated.com. Thomas, the former Pistons standout, most recently failed miserably as coach of the Knicks and is now coaching at Florida International University.
“I’m really hurt, and I really feel taken advantage of for all these years,” Thomas told SI.com. “I’m totally blindsided by this. Every time that I’ve seen Magic, he has been friendly with me. Whenever he came to a Knick game, he was standing in the tunnel [to the locker room] with me. He and [Knicks assistant coach] Herb [Williams] and I, we would go out to dinner in New York. I didn’t know he felt this way.”
Johnson and Larry Bird contributed to a book by Jackie MacMullan, “When The Game Was Ours,” which is due out Nov. 4. In the book, Johnson accuses Thomas of questioning his sexuality after Johnson was diagnosed as HIV positive in 1991. Johnson also confirms that Thomas was not well-liked by other NBA stars.
Thomas fired back at Johnson and defended himself in today’s story. He also accuses Johnson of duplicitous behavior in his friendship with Bird.
“Let’s be real. I’m not going to say the things Magic said in private about Larry, but I do know the public stance he’s taken [in becoming Bird's friend],” Thomas told SI.com. “I know that’s not how he felt about Larry Bird. Magic hated Larry, and he tried to make other people hate Larry. Magic was no friend of Larry Bird’s during that time. And his Laker teammates will tell you that. And I’m sure they’ve got to be disgusted with the way he’s carried on with this whole me-and-Larry bull.”
|Uncovering a treasure trove||09.14.09 at 11:46 am ET|
If you grew up on the NBA in the 80′s you probably remember the Zander Hollander basketball annuals. The books packed rosters, stats, essays and scathing, often hilarious, scouting reports on each NBA player written by NBA beat writers.
My all-time favorite was from a mid 90′s edition description of former Net Chris Morris which read: Body by Atlas, ability by Zeus and brains by Tinker Toy.
Sadly my collection was lost somewhere between college and various cross country moves. Fortunately Basketball-reference’s Neil Paine came across a blog by John Marzan that reprinted some of the best take-outs from the 1986 edition and it’s an awesome time-waster (original link via True Hoop). Here are some of the highlights from the Celtics chapter:
Jerry Sichting: Showed he can take a punch when Houston’s Ralph Sampson clocked him twice on the chops in Game 5 of finals. “I didn’t know if that was a punch or a mosquito,” said Sichting. “My son hits harder than that and he’s only three years old.”…
Danny Ainge: Still feisty, still hated by most fans outside Boston, still an integral part of Boston attack…
Robert Parish: Will he ever be accepted as a “true Celtic,” whatever that is?… Boston press ripped him after he had 3-for-15 shooting effort in Game 3 of finals… Seemed to mellow a bit last season, answering criticism calmly for the most part, although he did jilt the press for one day in Houston, earning the monicker “Chief Run ‘n’ Hide” for his efforts… Soft-touch jumper is maddeningly accurate… Stone-faced expression always makes him look like he’s apathetic, but neither teammates nor management have any problems with him…
Kevin McHale: Always open and witty with media, he gets burned occasionally but never seems to care… Would rather be fishing, with a six-pack beside him, than just about anything else…
Larry Bird: What else can he do?… Another regular-season MVP award, another postseason MVP award, another NBA championship ring… “Well,” he said, “I can do it all again.” Don’t bet that he won’t… The best there is and, arguably, the best there has ever been.
And just because…
Randy Breuer: How did this guy become a starter?…Celtics’ super fan Busty Hart, an exotic dancer, pegged the Bucks right when she said they were the “doughnut team, a team without a center.”… He tries, but fails…
|Bird’s favorite player is a Laker?||06.04.09 at 10:33 pm ET|
During halftime of Game 1 of the NBA Finals, ABC aired an interview between Magic Johnson and Kobe Bryant in which Johnson revealed Larry Bird considers Bryant his favorite player. Turns out Bryant has a one-sided love-hate relationship with Bird.
Johnson: Larry Bird told me that Kobe Bryant is his favorite player. How do you respond to that?
Bryant: You know what? That makes me feel, that makes me feel great. You know, I hated Larry growing up. I did, I hated his guts. But I loved him as a player and his work ethic and his intensity, his tenacity and I wanted to be that way. And the funny thing is, I’ve never actually met Larry Bird.
|Today in Celtics History: Bird Three-peat||05.28.09 at 12:08 am ET|
On May 28, 1986, Larry Bird won his third straight NBA MVP Award. He also won the NBA Finals MVP en route to the Celtics 16th world championship over the Houston Rockets. Bird joined Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain as the only players to receive the award in three consecutive seasons. Since then four players (Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Tim Duncan, Steve Nash) have won back-to-back titles, but no one has accomplished the three-peat.
See how this season’s MVP stacked up to Bird’s award-winning performance: (All stats per regular season game; advantage in bold)
Larry Bird (1986)
Boston Celtics: 67-15 (won NBA Finals)
LeBron James (2009)
Cleveland Cavaliers: 66-16 (down 3-1 in Eastern Conference Finals)
Edge: Bird, 6-3
On the same date in 1978 former Celtics guard, the late Dennis Johnson, blocked seven shots in Game 3 of the NBA Finals as a member of the Seattle SuperSonics. No other guard has ever blocked as many shots in an NBA Finals game.