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Danny Ainge on Ray Allen: ‘I was hopeful … but I was not surprised’ 07.14.12 at 1:38 pm ET
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WALTHAM — The departure of Ray Allen has been interpreted in many ways since the NBA’s all-time 3-point field goal shooter decided to leave the Celtics and join the NBA champion Heat on July 6. On Saturday, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge gave his.

“I don’t feel like we lost Ray,” Ainge said. “I feel like Ray left us to go to Miami. We appreciate all that Ray has done and all that him and [wife] Shannon have done in our community and we tried to get Ray back and he chose to go to Miami.”

Ainge reportedly had a two-year, $12 million deal on the table for Allen, but the guard was rumored to have a serious personality conflict with point guard Rajon Rondo and was concerned about his role and playing time next season.

“No one player makes a team and players choose not to come here all the time,” Ainge said. “There are 30 good basketball teams out there and it’s a very competitive league and there’s other teams outside of Boston. We knew Ray had this option and this opportunity and he chose to go that direction.

“I’ve talked with Ray much over the last five years. I’m a fan of Ray. I’m grateful for what he’s done and he’ll always be part of that 2008 championship and the success we’ve had since then as well. But I have a feeling there wasn’t one thing. I think it was an accumulation of lots of things, including the allure of Miami. And I’ll just leave it at that.”

As a reporter was asking a question about the club’s roster, Ainge went back and finished up his thoughts on Allen.

“I will say that I was hopeful that he would make another decision, but I was not surprised,” Ainge concluded.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Danny Ainge, Miami Heat, NBA
Powerade gives Celtics fans figurative middle finger 07.13.12 at 1:04 pm ET
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Only a few miles north of Boston, Powerade unveiled an electronic I-93 South billboard that reads, “Congrats, LeBron. Championship has a nice ring to it,” as reported by the Boston Metro.

Just weeks after the Heat’s LeBron James averaged 33.6 points, 11.0 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game to defeat the Celtics in a seven-game Eastern Conference finals, what better time for the sports drink company to remind Boston basketball fans of their most recent heartbreak? At least Butterfinger wasn’t behind dropping 900 pounds of the candy bars on Copley Square in thanks to Wes Welker for his drop in Super Bowl XLVI.

I’m guessing Gatorade sales just soared in New England. No word on James’ awareness of the Boston campaign. Maybe Zico should unveil a Kevin Garnett ad in Miami reading, “Congrats, LeBron. Suck on my coconut water.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Kevin Garnett, LeBron James, Miami Heat
Thunder C Kendrick Perkins says he wasn’t criticizing his coach after Game 4 loss 06.20.12 at 10:13 pm ET
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After playing just 18 minutes in a 104-98 loss to the Heat Tuesday night, Thunder center Kendrick Perkins spent part of Wednesday attempting to clarify some postgame comments in which he appeared to be questioning coach Scott Brooks‘€™ decision-making.

Perkins was on the floor for much of the first quarter as the Thunder opened up a 17-point lead over the Heat but played only nine minutes in the final three quarters while Miami rallied back and overtook the Thunder to grab a 3-1 series lead.

Immediately following Tuesday’s game, Perkins told reporters: “I just don’t understand why we start out the first quarter the way we did, with the lineup that we had and all of a sudden we change and adjust to what they had going on. So [the Heat] won the last three quarters, and that’s what happened.”

After a second question regarding the Thunder’s lineup switch, he said: ‘€œIf it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Wednesday, when Perkins was asked whether his postgame comments were directed at Brooks, Perkins attempted to clarify.

“No, that wasn’t what I was saying,” Perkins said. “I was just trying to make it clear that, at the time, we had a good adjustment at what we were doing. But at the end of day, when you’re in the flow of the game or the heat of battle a couple box-outs here, a couple loose balls there, we end up winning the game.”

Perkins continued, “At the end of the day, coach is just trying to coach to win the game. Whoever we have on the court, we have the belief we can get the job done.

“So at the end of the day, it wasn’t anything directed at coach Brooks or nothing to that nature. I’ll roll with coach Brooks all day.”

Read More: Kendrick Perkins, Miami Heat, NBA Finals, Oklahoma City Thunder
Michael Wilbon on D&C: ‘Superstar treatment was surely in effect’ for LeBron James 06.18.12 at 12:24 pm ET
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ESPN’€™s Michael Wilbon joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday to talk about Game 3 of the NBA finals, the officiating, whether the Thunder would be better off with Rajon Rondo or Russell Westbrook, and more. To hear the interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Asked whether LeBron James was getting superstar treatment after playing such aggressive defense and being called for zero fouls Sunday night, Wilbon said, ‘€œI’€™d have to go back and look at the game and just pay attention to what LeBron did. It could’€™ve been a bad night for the way LeBron was called, and also, we know that LeBron is physically superior. He can control his body in ways that even the other great players cannot in terms of avoiding contact and that sort of thing. And also, superstar treatment was surely in effect.’€

As for whether Kevin Durant ought to be afforded the same treatment, Wilbon said Durant would, in time.

‘€œPeople have to earn it,’€ Wilbon said. ‘€œAnd earning it in the NBA means, in the culture of this league for 60 years, so longer than any of these officials have been around, is seniority. And you get it when you’€™ve been a great player over time. And Durant had a couple of fouls called on him last night that in my opinion should not have been called.’€

While he felt it was too early to say definitely, Wilbon said the Thunder look like a team that will win championships, just not this year.

‘€œEvery great player, except Magic Johnson, in the last, I don’€™t know, 35 years, has been crushed, usually in the finals, but certainly conference finals, multiple times even,’€ Wilbon said, pointing to Hall of Fame players such as Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwan and David Robinson. “They were crushed before they broke through. I don’€™t feel like Oklahoma City has gone through that right of passage yet. We know Miami has been through that. LeBron James personally has been through that, twice, already. And I feel like Miami has this sense that, ‘€˜Oh no, no, no, we’€™re not going to have that happen again.’€™ It’s awful to go through that for an entire offseason and I don’€™t know that Oklahoma City is playing with that ‘€˜hate to lose’€™ sort of mentality.’€

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Read More: Dennis & Callahan, Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Miami Heat
Rajon Rondo: ‘We let this one slip away’ 06.10.12 at 4:03 am ET
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MIAMI — Not even the great Rajon Rondo could save the Celtics on Saturday night, not even with his fourth triple-double of this playoff season, and a mind-blowing 23rd of his career.

How rare is Rondo? He became the first player in NBA history with two Game 7 triple doubles, scoring 22 points, dishing 14 assists and grabbing 10 rebounds in Boston’s 101-88 Game 7 loss to the Heat at American Airlines Arena Saturday night. This comes just two weeks to the night he had 18 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in Boston’s 95-85 win over the Sixers in Game 7 of the Eastern semis.

But that was hardly on Rondo’s mind after just missing out on his third NBA finals appearance in five seasons.

“Great season,” Rondo began before clarifying, “we let this one slip away. We had a lot of opportunities, and they made the 50’€‘50 plays, and they got to the loose balls, got the offensive rebounds and made plays.”

Rondo led the Celtics with six points in the fourth quarter but the problem was Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Brandon Bass and Ray Allen combined for nine, as the C’s were outscored 28-15 in the decisive 12 minutes of the game – and the series.

“We had some great looks, Paul, Ray, myself, Kevin, we just didn’t knock them down,” Rondo said. ” What I told them earlier, they got to the loose balls, offensive rebounds and made plays and executed offensively and made great plays.”

Did the Celtics and Rondo just run out of gas?

“Nope,” he said succinctly. “We missed shots.

“We could have done a couple of things better defensively. Our rotations weren’t crisp in the pick’€‘and’€‘roll. We made bad decisions, overpenetration, gave up a lot of threes, two to Bosh, a couple to Battier. Give them credit. They spread the points out as a team tonight. And about five or six players scored in double digits. Give them credit. They played great tonight as a team. We just came up short.”

Read More: 2012 Playoffs, Boston Celtics, LeBron James, Miami Heat
Keyon Dooling: ‘We have hearts of champions’ at 3:23 am ET
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MIAMI — No one felt the pain and heartache of Game 7 more than Keyon Dooling Saturday night at American Airlines Arena.

Why? Because it was the first time he cried since his father passed away in 2009. He admitted as much after the 101-88 loss to the Heat that ended the Celtics season one win away from the NBA finals.

Dooling, who wears a floral lapel pin in honor of his late father, revealed just how much Saturday’s loss hurt the Celtics as a team.

“My father passed away three years ago and I haven’t cried since my father passed away until tonight,” Dooling said. “This bunch of guys, it was a like a senior year of high school. It was a memorable, lifelong friendships, a lot of great moments. This team was very unique. We love each other, we care for each other and though we aren’t champions this year, we have hearts of champions, and that will always keep us connected.”

LeBron James has been one of the most scrutinized and criticized superstars in any sport over the last six years. But on Saturday night, in the moments after he scored 31 points and lifted his Heat team to a 101-88 win over the Celtics in Game 7, he was showered with praise by one of those who tried to slow him down.

“I’ve never bought into this whole persona that LeBron isn’t the guy,” Dooling said. “I think everybody should relax a little bit. He’s great for our game, he is our game. We need to uplift him instead of tear him down. He’s a guy who’s the most unselfish superstar I’ve ever seen. He rebounds the ball, he assists the ball, he’s empowered his friends from his community. He does a lot of charity work in the community. He’s a model citizen. He should not have a stain on his reputation and I hope it stops.”

Dooling was part of a Celtics bench that could only muster two points and was outscored by Miami’s new bench weapon, Chris Bosh, 19-2. Dooling said the Celtics weren’t tired in the fourth quarter as they were outscored, 28-15. It was just a matter of the Heat’s execution.

“It wasn’t about gas,” Dooling said. “They just did a great job of defending. They’re a great team. You have to give them credit. We fought, we hung around, we were there. We had some good shots at the end. We just couldn’t make plays. They did a phenomenal job. They made all the plays, they shared the ball. They executed down the stretch. They got some interior baskets as well. They did a phenomenal job. Tip your hat to them.”

Read More: 2012 Playoffs, Boston Celtics, Chris Bosh, Keyon Dooling
Paul Pierce on Kevin Garnett, leadership and heartbreak after Game 7 at 2:49 am ET
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MIAMI — Following Boston’s 101-88 loss to the Heat in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals, captain Paul Pierce made it clear he wants management to do whatever they can to bring Kevin Garnett back for one more run with the Celtics.

“He’s been everything for my career, just his locker room presence, his desire, his determination, his leadership,” Pierce said. “I’ve said before when Kevin first got here, he really changed the culture of everything we did around here, from the practice habits to the on-court discipline. He made everybody accountable, from the ballboys, to the chefs to the guy who flew the plane. Everybody was accountable. It was just tremendous to have him around, just the culture he brought.

“It would be great for me to end my career with Kevin. I have a couple of years left [on Celtics contract] and who knows what his future is going to bring. Hopefully, management can do something to bring him back, maybe add some pieces to this team that we need to get us over the top. If not, it’s been a tremendous ride.”

Garnett, who fell into early foul trouble in Game 7 and finished with 14 points and seven rebounds in 35 minutes, is now an unrestricted free agent after spending the last five seasons in Boston.

Garnett did not speak to reporters after the game but Pierce did address what went wrong in Game 7, a contest the Celtics led by seven at halftime before being outscored by 20 in the second half.

“It’s tough when you don’t have the chance to accomplish your goals. Every year your goal, as a Boston Celtic, is to try and come out and win a championship. We had our opportunities. We were right where we wanted to be. We had a chance in Game 7. We had a chance to close it out at home in Game 6. We didn’t take advantage of it. We’ve got to take our hats off to what the Heat was able to do the last couple of games. They played inspiring basketball. What can I say? [Chris Bosh] was definitely an X-factor. He shot the ball well. It was an ideal situation [for us]. It was a tie game, one quarter to go, winner plays for the championship. What more can you ask for? They made the plays they needed to make to get there.

“Everything is going so fast right now. It’s tough to think about. You feel like you let your teammates down,” said Pierce, who followed up his 4-for-18 night in Game 6 with a 7-for-18 night in Game 7. That’s 11-for-36 in his final two games of the season.

And if this was it for the “Big Three”?

“It was a great opportunity,” Pierce said. “Whenever you have the chance to play with some of the greatest players of all time in Ray, Kevin and an up-and-coming great in Rondo, you can’t ask for anything more. There are a lot of people who have been in my position who do not get that opportunity.”

Pierce is hoping for one more run with Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen and Garnett but he knows it’s not his decision.

“That’s a question you’re going to have to ask management,” Pierce said. “Obviously, we want to play together. Management has their choices that they can make. I’m just happy that they were able to let us play.”

Read More: 2012 Playoffs, Boston Celtics, Kevin Garnett, Miami Heat
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