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Irish Coffee: Top 10 opening-night Celtics efforts 11.01.11 at 1:24 pm ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …

It’s a sad day for basketball fans. The NBA was supposed to debut on Tuesday night with back-to-back nationally televised games between the Bulls and defending world champion Mavericks, followed by the Thunder and Lakers in the nightcap. Then, the Celtics were slated to host the Cavaliers on Wednesday night.

Instead, Monday represents the day the NBA begins robbing its fans of professional basketball, so now is as good a time as any to remind everyone what we could be missing. Without further ado, we present the Top 10 opening-night performances of the past 25 years by Celtics (Rule No. 1: no repeats).

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Irish Coffee: The NBA CBA, the Celtics and the future 10.28.11 at 2:18 pm ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …

By now, you’ve probably heard the NBA is on the precipice of a collective bargaining agreement that would end the lockout. Good news, obviously. How such a deal would affect the Celtics is an entirely different matter, so let’s examine five issues that could impact the team this season.

Issue: Scheduling

  • Pro: TrueHoop’s Kevin Arnovitz makes a compelling case for a 44-game NBA schedule, with teams playing twice weekly. Needless to say, that would be welcome news for Jermaine O’Neal‘s knees, among other various body parts on these old Celtics. But it’s a pipe dream.
  • Con: The NBA is already making plans to ensure the full NBA regular-season slate remains intact — starting a month late on Dec. 1 and ending in late April, according to The New York Times. As Sports Illustrated’s Zach Lowe notes, such a schedule could mean eight games — give or take — would be crammed into an existing schedule that already features 18 back-to-backs for the C’s. In other words, goodbye No. 1, 2 and possibly 3 or 4 seed!

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Irish Coffee: Ray Allen’s microcosm of life 10.20.11 at 1:46 pm ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …

Celtics guard Ray Allen and coach Doc Rivers are in Orlando, Fla. for the PGA Tour’s Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic pro-am on Thursday and Friday. ESPN.com golf writer Michael Collins interviewed Allen prior to a round with 2008 Masters champion Trevor Immelman. Here are 10 things we learned from the exchange:

  • Allen couldn’t have looked less interested to start the interview.
  • Though a scratch golfer, he’s not thinking about a professional golf career.
  • Tee shots in front of a gallery scare him more than an NBA Finals tip-off.
  • His lowest round ever: A 67 at Newton’s Charles River Country Club.
  • He sees golf as a microcosm of life.
  • He doesn’t have a favorite part of his game.
  • Sand shots are the worst part of his game.
  • Ball-striking is the best part of his game.
  • He’d like to see more trash talking in golf.
  • He’d like to see a fight between John Daly and Woody Austin.

“The next shot is the best shot — the most important shot.” Sounds like he takes the same approach to golf as he does in basketball. Speaking of which, three people who donated $4,500 to The Home For Little Wanderers earned the chance to play (read: “lose”) a game of H.O.R.S.E. with Allen in his driveway before his wife Shannon Allen prepares them a home-cooked meal. Good times.

Allen is the lone member of the Celtics’ Big Four not rumored among NBA players expected to participate in a two-week exhibition tour in Puerto Rico, London, Macau and Australia, according to ESPN.com’s Chris Broussard. Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo are expected to participate — and Kevin Garnett is reportedly mulling an offer to play — during the canceled first two weeks of the NBA season.

I don’t know about you, but I kind of respect the fact that Allen isn’t bothering with any of these exhibition games or sticking his nose in labor negotiations. He’s ready to play whenever the lockout lifts. Otherwise, he’ll be playing golf. “I can work out for basketball, but there are so many hours left in the day.” So Shuttlesworth.

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Irish Coffee: Kevin Garnett bleeps everything up 10.18.11 at 11:18 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …

Yahoo! Sports columnist Adrian Wojnarowski piggybacked the ESPN reports over the weekend that Celtics forward Kevin Garnett‘s involvement in collective bargaining negotiations may have disrupted a potential 50/50 split of basketball-related income between NBA owners and players. The C’s-related portion of Woj’s piece:

This fight has grown nastier, more personal, in the past weeks. Privately, management insists that everything changed when the Celtics’ Kevin Garnett walked into the negotiating room on Oct. 4. The owners knew it wouldn’t go well when Garnett started glowering across the table, sources said, like the league lawyers, owners and officials were opponents at the center jump. He was defiant, determined and downright ornery. He was KG. Everyone knew Hunter had to cede to the wishes of the stars, and the stars demanded that the players stop making concessions to the owners.

As one league official said, “We were making progress, until Garnett [expletive] everything up.”

Colleague Paul Flannery and I had a brief e-mail exchange on the subject, and I couldn’t agree with him more: Are we really going to believe that by fixing the owners with a KG stare that they packed up and went home?

Owners and players will sit down with federal mediator George Cohen on Tuesday. In an appearance on CNN, NBA commissioner David Stern indicated that the meeting could be one of the most significant days of the lockout. Here are some highlights of that interview (via The New York Times):

  • The good: “We would push as hard as possible to be up and running in 30 days.”
  • The bad: “We keep negotiating and we keep losing games in the calendar.”
  • The ugly: “If there’s a breakthrough, it’s going to come on Tuesday. And if not, I think that the season is really going to potentially escape from us, because we aren’t making any progress.”

Calling a potential 50/50 split “a very thin deal for the NBA,” Stern also stressed three needs of the owners: 1) “an opportunity to be profitable,” 2) “a more robust revenue sharing plan” and 3) “a system that allows small market and large market teams to tell their fans: ‘We can compete if we’re well managed.’”

In related news, a group led by billionaire Joshua Harris bought the 76ers for a mere $280 million.

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Irish Coffee: Why no NBA exhibition games in Boston? 10.11.11 at 1:57 pm ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …

A month ago, Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo practiced alongside LeBron James at the University of Kentucky. A week ago, the C’s Big Three partied with Bron Bron in New York City. And a couple days ago, Rondo played on Queen James’ team in the South Florida All-Star Classic. Naturally, LeBron’s team lost.

And Celtics fans continue to lose, starting with the cancellation of the first two weeks of the NBA season. While C’s players Rondo, Paul Pierce, Jeff Green, Glen Davis, Avery Bradley, Jermaine O’Neal and JaJuan Johnson have played everywhere from Florida to China, none have offered any such glimpse to the Boston faithful.

Just this past weekend, Rondo played in the South Florida All-Star Classic and on the University of Kentucky’s Big Blue All-Stars (see the embedded video for his circus buzzer-beater to end the first half of a 115-87 victory). He reportedly buried a trio of 3-pointers but went down hard in a game against Georgetown College on Monday.

Celtics free agent combo guard Delonte West could be playing for the Goodman League in “The Chocolate City against the City of Brotherly Love” in Washington D.C. on Saturday. C’s restricted free agent Jeff Green has also played for the Goodman League in games against Los Angeles, New York, Indianapolis and Philadelphia.

During the NBA lockout, Pierce played with Michael Beasley in China and Mario Chalmers in Kansas. Davis teamed with Zach Randolph in Louisiana. Bradley and O’Neal participated in the Impact Basketball Competitive Training Series in Las Vegas. Johnson battled Green in Indiana before practicing with Rondo in Kentucky. And Ray Allen has been training at the University of Connecticut in Storrs. Yet, none have played in Boston.

If fans must endure another month of lockout talk and high-profile exhibition games, would it be too much to ask someone (cough, Celtics captain Paul Pierce, cough) to organize an exhibition game in Boston? Are you telling me Pierce couldn’t recruit Rondo, Allen, Garnett, Johnson, West, Green, Big Baby and whoever else (Chris Herren, for one) to participate in a charity game in Boston benefiting his Truth on Health campaign?

Besides, if the NBA ever gets around to reaching a collective bargaining agreement, Celtics training camp will be abbreviated and games will creep up on their aged legs fairly quickly. Would it be so bad for C’s players to hold scrimmages open to the public (for a charitable donation, of course) at high schools around the city?

Or is that just another NBA fan from Boston asking too much? Read the rest of this entry »

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Irish Coffee: Paul Pierce to the NBA rescue! 10.04.11 at 12:20 pm ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …

Only two players attended Monday’s NBA collective bargaining session with commissioner David Stern and the NBA brass. One was National Basketball Players Association president Derek Fisher. The other? Paul Pierce.

Pierce isn’t a member of the union’s executive committee, although CBS Sports columnist Ken Berger suggested the Celtics captain and player representative has expressed interest in becoming the Joe Biden to Fisher’s Barack Obama. Regardless, NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver cited Pierce as someone who actually brought tangible ideas to the table during labor discussions in New York City over the weekend.

Not only is Pierce expected to join Fisher again on Tuesday, but Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett have reportedly been invited to join a small group of players in what might be the final negotiating window before the NBA starts canceling regular-season games. Imagine that. Lakers and Celtics on the same side of the ball.

Pierce’s presence is only magnified by the fact that his agent, Jeff Schwartz, is among a handful who encourage union decertification and drafted a letter urging the players not to accept a revenue share less than 52 percent — six points higher than Stern’s current offer and two points above what some believe could seal a deal.

Are those final two percentage points — a total of $80 or so million — worth destroying the momentum that two Celtics-Lakers finals and a Heat firestorm created over the last few seasons? It’s hard to imagine Pierce & Co. allowing these negotiations to devolve into decertification, as that could cost the league the 2011-12 NBA season. These are the issues that Pierce, Fisher, Garnett, Bryant and their colleagues face.

My how far Pierce has come since he got ejected from Game 6 of a first-round series loss to the Pacers in the 2005 NBA Playoffs, swung his Celtics jersey over his head at the Conseco Fieldhouse crowd and showed up to the post-game press conference with his head wrapped in a faux bandage.

If the 2008 NBA Finals MVP was Pierce’s defining moment on the court, this could be his moment of Truth off it. He could cement his legacy as not only a Hall of Famer but a power player in the NBA’s future for years to come.

For more on Tuesday’s pivotal NBA labor negotiations, WEEI.com’s Paul Flannery sets the stage perfectly.

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Irish Coffee: Celtics, Heat party in NYC’s meatpacking district (not that there’s anything wrong with that) 10.03.11 at 11:58 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …

Enough’s enough. The NBA might still be locked out, but Irish Coffee’s holdout has officially come to an end. It’s October, and NBA training camps should be in progress. Instead, the Celtics and Heat are partying together.

After the C’s swept the Knicks and got out-athleticismed (new word!) by the Heat in five games during the 2011 NBA Playoffs, did you ever think you’d be reading about Carmelo Anthony hosting Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen in New York City’s meatpacking district on Oct. 3? At least the Daily News reported that “the Boston boys and Anthony’s crew exchanged little more than ‘hi and bye’ pleasantries.”

Did you think Rajon Rondo would pledge to play alongside Wade, LBJ, Chris Bosh, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire at an event hosted by Isiah Thomas on Oct. 8? At least its for charity.

Did you think restricted free agent Jeff Green – the crux of the Kendrick Perkins deal that many believe killed the Celtics season faster than an unnamed Red Sox player can slam a beer in the clubhouse — would be discussing the oh-so-difficult process of making smoothies on some lady’s couch (see embedded video)? At least he’s staying healthy. (On an unrelated note, should we tell them that almond milk, bananas, strawberries, blueberries and ice isn’t a protein shake?)

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