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Celtics: Irish Coffee 09.30.10 at 9:00 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …

It’s becoming fairly clear that Nate Robinson enjoys pranking his teammates, especially Shaquille O’Neal. This time, he’s seen with Paul Pierce, pouring a ton of salt into a glass of water before handing it to an unsuspecting Shaq. The Big Shamrock’s reaction is priceless. It’s stuff like this that builds camaraderie, and I’m all for it.

NBA rule changes?

The NBA is trying out a number of potential rule changes in the NBA Development League–with an eye towards adding them at the top level in the near future.

The biggest change? Potentially allowing defenders to knock a ball away while its on the rim, a huge change from the current goaltending rule, which forbids players from touching the ball while its in the cylinder. Just for the record, this is a terrible idea. I mean, I even dominated when we lowered the rim in our backyard and allowed goaltending. Can you imagine how good Bill Russell would’ve been?

The other potential rule change? Three-minute overtimes, as opposed to the current five-minute system. Another awful idea. I have trouble doing anything in three minutes, let alone playing the most important part of a basketball game. Is there anyone out there thinking, “You know what, I’d watch this overtime if it were three minutes. Five minutes? That’s much too long for me.”

Salary cap issues hit hard

Wizards and Capitals owner Ted Leonsis was fined $100,000 by the NBA for saying that he expects the league to adopt a hard salary cap, much like the one currently in place in the NHL.

“In a salary cap era–and soon a hard salary cap in the NBA like it’s in the NHL–if everyone can pay the same amount to the same amount of players, its the small nuanced differences that matter,” Leonsis told a crowd of local business owners at George Mason University.

If the currently salary cap of $56 million were a hard cap, and teams could not exceed that limit under a number of nuanced exceptions, the Celtics would have to cut almost $23 million in salary. Essentially, they’d only be able to pay their starting five. In case you haven’t figured it out, this would be bad news for the C’s.

LeBron James: Big Baby

Ran across this picture yesterday and found it pretty funny. Nice job by this kid …

NBA Jam redux

Failed marketing and harsh criticism have led EA Sports to postpone the release of the new version of the 1993 2-on-2 NBA Jam video game, NBA Elite 11, indefinitely. The move could cost the company as much as $60 million. That’s more than the current NBA salary cap, for the math-challenged out there.

In case you missed it, EA Sports released the rosters for the game, and the Celtics are one of only nine teams that include four current players–Pierce,Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen–plus two legends (Larry Bird and Kevin McHale). ESPN.com’s Marc Stein surmised that you may be able to unlock Shaq as a hidden player. In the original ’93 version, if you’ll recall, the C’s roster featured Reggie Lewis and McHale.

Let me ask you this: How does EA Sports screw up a 2-on-2 basketball game? The original version was probably the greatest video basketball game ever (other than maybe Double Dribble), so why not just update the graphics and players, and move on. That would be too simple.

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Why the time is now (and right) for Delonte West 09.28.10 at 6:26 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Delonte West stepped on a foot stool he didn’t need with a broad, beaming smile and began to talk in a most relaxed fashion about how glad and grateful he is to be back in Boston with a chance to win his first NBA title with the team where it all began.

If ever anyone was grateful to be back in Boston with a chance at redemption, it’s the 27-year-old lefty-shooting guard from Washington, signed by the Celtics on Sept. 1 to a non-guaranteed free agent deal. West had been cut by Minnesota, which had acquired him from Cleveland just days after the Cavaliers lost free agent LeBron James to Miami.

“It feels great to be back in green and white, where I started my career,” West said. “That’s a great compliment, being picked up from a team that’s coming off an [NBA finals] Game 7 and got their eyes set on a championship. To be called to render my services to help this team put up another banner, that’s an amazing feeling.”

Before doing so, he must sit out the first 10 games of the season on gun charges after he pleaded guilty for carrying two loaded handguns, a loaded shotgun and two knives when he was pulled over in suburban Washington last September.

He spoke of being familiar with Doc Rivers when he broke into the NBA. He spoke of his experiences in Cleveland, where he was on a team favored to get to the NBA finals — only to be twice denied by the Celtics.

But most of all, West spoke like a man who knows that — assuming he can win a spot on the roster out of camp — he will have his best shot yet to reach the NBA summit.

And it would certainly have been quite the journey. Read the rest of this entry »

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Shaq on D&C: ‘I would have played for free’ in Boston at 8:49 am ET
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Shaquille O'Neal (AP)

Shaquille O'Neal (AP)

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

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LeBron James at the point? 09.20.10 at 10:46 am ET
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One of the persistent criticisms of the Miami Heat is that while they are overloaded with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, they are weak at point guard and center. That’s if they run a conventional lineup.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra suggested that wouldn’t be the case recently when he told the Miami Herald that James will play point guard and handle the ball extensively. [Read the full story here.]

Here’s the key quote: “He will be a playmaker. But he has also been a scoring champ. He will be at the end of plays to finish them. He will be a facilitator. He’ll be so many different things. We want to take advantage of all his skills.”

Spoelstra also said that he would experiment with a starting lineup that included Mike Miller instead of Mario Chalmers or Carlos Arroyo, their two traditional point guards.

This is smart. There is no reason for Spoelstra to use a regular lineup when he has such unconventional talent. James is one the best playmaking forwards in the league and Wade has also run Miami’s offense. Both James and Wade have played on teams that demanded they take a huge percentage of shots, but both are also excellent passers. The Heat don’t need conventional players. They need shooters on the perimeter and a compliment to Bosh inside.

A lineup with Wade, Miller and James along with Bosh and Udonis Haslem is probably Miami’s strongest and one that leaves the traditional positions all mixed up.

Coming up with counters for the Heat will be a constant challenge and the Celtics have options. Doc Rivers experimented with a backcourt of Rajon Rondo and Nate Robinson at times last season, but it didn’t really take. Perhaps with a full training camp at their disposal it could have time to jell.

That would be a serious speed advantage, but obviously a gamble in terms of height. But in spots, or with Avery Bradley in the mix, it could be an interesting way to change the tempo, especially defensively.

The Celtics also have numerous options up front with Kevin Garnett, Jermaine O’Neal, Shaquille O’Neal and Glen Davis. Rivers said he prefers a set frontcourt rotation during the regular season, but he does have the pieces to play with in terms of matchups.

We don’t have much longer to find out. The Celtics and Heat open the season on Oct. 26.

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Shaq calls out Cavs, Mo Williams 09.04.10 at 5:07 pm ET
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There was a time when being a role player would not have sat well with Shaquille O’Neal. That time has passed.

In a recent interview with the Times-Picayune, O’Neal explained that he now looks forward to playing for an unselfish ball club, even if it means less time on the court.

“I’m at the point in my life where I can’t carry a team by myself anymore, but I can be a piece on a team that’s already good,” he said. “The Celtics are good with or without me. A lot of people say, ‘How can I be a complementary player?’ But at 38, it’s easy. If I was 28, it would be a problem, Doc.”

O’Neal called out his most recent team, the Cavaliers, for their approach on offense. He singled out one former teammate in particular.

“I like that they (the Celtics) play together and nobody really worries about shots,” O’Neal said. “When I was with Cleveland, guys who couldn’t even play were worried about shots. Why was Mo (Williams) taking 15 shots, and I’m only taking four? If LeBron takes 20 shots, that’s cool.

“So I said, let me get with a good team for the last two years. I don’t mind people calling me a journeyman. I’ve been programmed to move around every three years.”

O’Neal averaged a career-low 8.7 shots per game last season. LeBron James led the Cavs with 20.1 field goal attempts. In contrast, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce led the Celtics with 12.1 attempts each.

O’Neal also added that he had been interested in the Hawks and Hornets before signing with the Celtics.

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Celtics reportedly will open season vs. Heat 08.03.10 at 6:51 am ET
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According to multiple reports, the Celtics will open the 2010-11 season by hosting LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the Heat in a matchup of Eastern Conference powers. The game, scheduled for Oct. 26, will be televised nationally on TNT. The NBA is scheduled to announce its opening week and Christmas Day schedules Tuesday night.

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Broussard on D&H: C’s ‘did what they had to do’ 07.27.10 at 3:25 pm ET
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Dale & Holley welcomed ESPN NBA insider Chris Broussard Tuesday afternoon to talk about all things basketball this offseason, including the topics of LeBron James, the Celtics’ offseason pickups and re-signings and Doc Rivers possibly returning for more than one season.

“If they have a great season, maybe win the championship, I do think that there would be a lot of pull to return to the franchise,” Broussard said of the coach. “I think he’s doing the right thing, I think it’s a fluid situation and he’s leaving his options open, so I’m not too surprised to hear Doc say that.”

Below are highlights. To listen to the full interview click on the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

On when he figured out that LeBron James would be leaving Cleveland:

It’s interesting, because throughout that whole process there were a lot of people close to LeBron who wanted him to stay in Cleveland, and it’s not a smokescreen, to my knowledge. I would have believed he was trying to get Chris Bosh to go there. Toronto agreed to do a sign and trade, LeBron was trying to sell Bosh on coming to Cleveland and being his second guy. If he was able to do that, then I think LeBron would have stayed in Cleveland.

And then of course, LeBron was also trying to talk to Chris Paul. They were trying to figure out a way Chris Paul could be traded to Cleveland. If one of those two things happened, then I think LeBron would have stayed because there was a part him that wanted to stay, that understood legacy. [Michael] Jordan turned a terrible franchise into a champion, Isiah Thomas did it. You hear it, even in the criticism about LeBron’s decision, that the great ones always stay with one team.

He understood that and wanted to stay, a part of him did, but when he realized they couldn’t get that second guy, and then you looked down the road [he asked] “Would I be able to ever get that second guy here? It’s been seven years and it hasn’t happened.” That’s when he really had to say, “You know what? I may have to go.”

Now, Chicago was always very strong in consideration and Miami with their situation was always right there too, but I really think he gave Cleveland a legitimate shot. Finally, when Bosh made it clear that [he] was going to Miami with [Dwyane] Wade, that’s when LeBron realized he wasn’t going to be able to get anybody [in Cleveland]. Can [he] get through Boston what they’re going to do in Miami, Chicago and the Lakers, other teams, like Orlando, without that second guy. He had to go make sure that he had a couple of star teammates.

On the Celtics’ offseason strategy of re-signing their veterans:

I think they’ve done well. The Jermaine O’Neal move was a good one. I know they hate to lose Tony Allen, his defense was critical down the stretch, but I think they should move on without him. I’ve got to admit, I was among the surprised when they played so well in the playoffs, so I do wonder if they’ve got enough left to reach the finals again next year.

I was just talking about with age and things like that. You wonder two years from now, they’re going to be old and pretty much done with that. With [Rajon] Rondo, who’s developing into an All-Star and they’ve got a few other young guys, but that’s my only worry, I think they did what they had to do. I think it’s the right thing to go ahead and try to take one more shot at it. My pick is Miami in the East, but I think the Celtics will be right there.

Read the rest of this entry »

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