|Irish Coffee: Bill Russell, basketball’s grandfather||02.19.13 at 12:31 pm ET|
I was 12 years old when my grandfather died, and I never really got to ask him about playing for Passaic (N.J.) High’s “Wonder Team,” owners of the longest win streak (159 games) in prep basketball history and entrants into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, or about playing for Rutgers, where he apparently also took part in a handful of exhibition games under an assumed name for $25 a night. This was the 1920s, before the NBA.
So, when Bill Simmons interviewed Bill Russell, basketball’s grandfather, on NBA TV Monday, it made me feel profoundly nostalgic, jealous and robbed of so many great tales of my own basketball ancestry. But mainly I just felt lucky that we all still have this great link to Celtics past. Heck, to American history. And we should cherish that.
Russell shared captivating story after captivating story. His admiration of his father Charles, who raised his playwright brother Charlie L. and him while working for decades in an Oakland foundry. His belief he would never have played in the NBA if he hadn’t been traded from the “overwhelmingly racist” city of St. Louis in 1956 to Boston for future Hall of Famers Ed Macauley and Cliff Hagan. His quiet first meeting with a young Kansas freshman named Wilt Chamberlain. His pavement of the road to professional players’ unions and big contracts, like the $100,001 one he signed in 1965 — one more dollar than Chamberlain’s deal. His support of Muhammad Ali during the heavyweight champ’s conscientious objection to the Vietnam War. And so on and so on.
He was fascinating. Here are 11 great quotes from the interview, one for every title he won for the Celtics.
|Report: Celtics sign ‘freakish’ Terrence Williams||02.18.13 at 12:14 pm ET|
The Celtics and former Louisville star Terrence Williams, the No. 11 overall pick in the 2009 NBA draft, agreed to what’s believed to be a 10-day contract, according to The Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn.
Terrence Williams signing is a done deal according to #celtics source
— gary washburn (@GwashNBAGlobe) February 18, 2013
The 6-foot-6, 220-pound wing averaged 17.9 points (47.9 FG%, 42.3 3P%, 71.7 FT%), 4.1 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 1.2 steals in just 27.0 minutes a night over 29 games in the Chinese Basketball Association for the first-place Guangdong Southern Tigers prior to being unceremoniously replaced by Donald Sloan on Friday two games before the CBA playoffs. Williams averaged 7.6 points (40.4 FG%, 31.5 3P%, 68.2 FT%), 3.9 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 129 games over three seasons for the Nets, Rockets and Kings.
Once dubbed “a freakish athlete” by Louisville coach Rick Pitino, Williams played his prep career in Seattle, where Celtics guards Avery Bradley and Jason Terry have strong ties. T-Will chronicled his basketball journey in a web series titled “Poor Hungry Driven.”
The Celtics begin a five-game West Coast road trip on Tuesday against the Nuggets. They had just 10 healthy players on the roster after season-ending injuries to Rajon Rondo, Jared Sullinger and Leandro Barbosa. Williams is expected to join the team in Denver, according to Washburn.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers hinted at such a deal over the past week. He and team president Danny Ainge agreed last week that they would rather sign the best available player than somebody who fills a need at a certain position (i.e., a point guard or a big), and Williams fits that bill. Likewise, Rivers said on Friday the C’s were looking at possibilities in the Chinese Basketball Association, and later that day Williams became available. Coincidence?
The only thing worse than the NBA’s All-Star Weekend festivities was TNT sideline reporter Craig Sager‘s suit — a hideous monstrosity even by Sager’s standards. No wonder Kevin Garnett won’t play in another All-Star Game.
“Hey, man, stop wearing stuff like this when you do real interviews,” said Garnett, who finished scoreless in just six minutes of action during the East’s 143-138 loss to the West. “Straight up.”
“What’s wrong with it?” asked Sager.
“You look like a Christmas ornament,” Garnett countered.
Gotta love Sager playing naive. Perhaps he forgot Garnett telling him in 2008, “You can’t just grab something from the 1970s and bring it back,” or in 2009, “You take this outfit home, and you burn it.” But surely he recalls Saturday’s All-Star Game practice, when a mutual love of clowning Sager’s suits resolved any lingering conflict over the taste of Honey Nut Cheerios between Garnett and Carmelo Anthony:
|Trade rumor: Celtics, Clippers talk Kevin Garnett for Eric Bledsoe, DeAndre Jordan||02.16.13 at 9:24 am ET|
Now that you’ve digested the unlikelihood of a Rajon Rondo for Dwight Howard trade between the Celtics and Lakers, wrap your head around this one: The Kevin Garnett to the Clippers rumor is back and bigger than ever.
Speculation first found legs when the Celtics hosted the Clips on Feb. 3, but multiple reports shot the rumor down for a variety of reasons. Now, reputable Yahoo! Sports columnists Adrian Wojnarowski and Marc J. Spears are reporting the two teams are discussing a deal that would bring Eric Bledsoe and DeAndre Jordan to Boston in exchange for Garnett.
Members of both organizations appear reluctant to make the trade, Wojnarowski and Spears reported. While Garnett might make the Clippers a contender this season, they would be parting ways with a 23-year-old star point guard in the making and a still developing 24-year-old center.
Meanwhile, besides the fact Garnett remains the heart and soul of the Celtics franchise, team president Danny Ainge would have to convince KG to waive his no-trade clause, although the C’s hope a move close to his home in Malibu and a chance to join longtime friend Chauncey Billups might assuage the 36-year-old All-Star’s concerns, according to the report.
|Trade rumor: Celtics, Lakers discuss Rajon Rondo for Dwight Howard||02.15.13 at 10:04 pm ET|
The Celtics and Lakers “have engaged in preliminary trade discussions” about a deal that would send Rajon Rondo to Los Angeles and bring Dwight Howard to Boston, according to CBSSports.com’s Ken Berger.
Since Rondo makes $11 million in salary and Howard makes $19.5 million, the Celtics would have to include more pieces to make such a blockbuster deal work. Still, the Lakers are hesitant to deal the three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, and the Celtics would need assurance that Howard would re-sign in Boston this summer, according to the report. Those obstacles — and so many more — make the trade a long shot.
Still, the C’s and Lakers could table what little discussion has actually taken place until the offseason, when Rondo’s recovery from ACL surgery has progressed and Howard becomes a sign-and-trade possibility, Berger said.
Just imagine how Rondo would perform on national TV against the Celtics.
UPDATE: The Boston Herald’s Mark Murphy confirmed Berger’s report, citing that the “unlikely” trade talks occurred prior to Rondo’s injury. That piece of information seems fairly significant. And then there’s this.
Source who would definitely know re: reported Rondo/Howard talks: “nothing. Zero. Nada. Niente. Clear?” So, there’s that.
— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) February 16, 2013
|Celtics targets in Chinese Basketball Association||at 6:01 pm ET|
Celtics coach Doc Rivers told Dennis & Callahan he and team president Danny Ainge received a list of Chinese Basketball Association imports who might fill two needs: 1) a guard who can play both backcourt positions, shoot and bring toughness and 2) a big who can stretch the floor and/or rebound.
After scouring the CBA’s 17 rosters, here are 10 guys who might be on that list of players who will begin to be available once the regular season ends Feb. 17.
Von Wafer: The 6-foot-5, 209-pound shooting guard just captured Asia-basket.com’s Player of the Week honor after scoring 51 of his team’s 112 points on 19-of-25 shooting (9-13 3P). Of course, Wafer, 27, has experience in the Celtics system, averaging 3.2 points in 9.5 minutes over 58 games during the 2010-11 season. A disappointment in Boston, he was thrown into the deal that sent Glen Davis to the Magic for Brandon Bass. Just don’t sign Wafer alongside Delonte West, the combo guard who Rivers and Ainge admitted was on their list of potential signees. Wafer and West reportedly exchanged blows after a C’s practice two years ago.
Stephon Marbury: After leading his Beijing Ducks to the CBA title last season, the 35-year-old veteran has averaged 29.5 points, 5.3 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 2.2 steals per game this season. He too has experience under Rivers in Boston, where he finally played his way out of the NBA during the 2008-09 season. Marbury averaged 3.8 points, 3.3 assists and 1.2 boards in 18.0 minutes a night over 23 games for the C’s.
|Kevin Garnett downplays ‘last All-Star Game’ comment||at 3:22 pm ET|
For the first time since he declared this weekend’s NBA All-Star Game would be his last, Celtics star Kevin Garnett addressed the comments during his Media Day session (available via the NBA’s live stream here).
“I took the question as if somebody was asking me about next year,” said Garnett prior to his 15th All-Star Game appearance, “and I had no insight into saying that I was going to be a definite All-Star, so it came out like I’m saying, ‘This is my last,’ but I’m not an egotistical guy or none of that, and I wasn’t going to just say, ‘Yeah, I’m going to be an All-Star, so I’m going to be here next year.’ To be honest, I’m more than grateful to be here. I’m obviously honored and humbled to be here with this great class of guys, and I wasn’t going to make a comment that I felt like was out of hand — to say that next year I would be here, because next year no one knows. That’s where those contents came from.”
He was asked again.
“Every year you make this, it’s not something that you take for granted,” he said. “That’s all I’m saying. Some guys go a whole career and never get a chance to obviously experience an All-Star event, and I’m more than grateful. You know what I’m saying? I wasn’t going to be in a position to where I was speaking on next year and my production next year and what it is. I have no idea, so that’s where those contents mainly came from.”
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