|Malcolm Huckaby remembers the making of Erik Spoelstra||05.28.12 at 7:28 am ET|
The little office light on in the practice facility still on at 3 a.m. The calculating of plus-minus plays in practice. The guy breaking down film for Hall of Fame coach Pat Riley.
This is my memory up close with a Pat Riley clone and future coach of an NBA dream team named Erik Spoelstra.
I had fulfilled one of my lifelong dreams, playing in the NBA for the Heat, when I inked a one-year deal in 1996 as a free agent with Riley, who coached the team then.
Riley mused on a then-undrafted free agent point guard out of Boston College who had overcome a horrific ankle injury, calling me a player who was a PHD (poor, hungry and desperate). Spoelstra, at the time, was crafting his skill in the dungeon of the video room of the team, working long hours desperately trying to give Riley any advantage possible.
Most people on the outside at the time of the 1996-97 season failed to give the kind of credit they do now for the work of assistant coaches, who work zombie hours with all the credit going to the head coach. But the knowledge that was around when I played was priceless. You had a Hall of Fame coach in Riley, along with Stan Van Gundy (who, after I asked him and Spoelstra how much sleep they got the night before, replied, “Huck, sleep is overrated”), and assistant coach Bob (Can Do) McAdoo, who once led the NBA in scoring when guys with nicknames like “Ice Man” were playing.
|Glen Davis: Magic ‘capable of beating’ Celtics in playoffs||04.19.12 at 2:26 am ET|
Since being traded from the Celtics to the Magic prior to the season, Glen Davis is now 0-3 against his former team. Yet, Big Baby believes his new squad is fully prepared to defeat the C’s should they meet in the playoffs — even without the injured Dwight Howard and Hedo Turkoglu.
“I think we’re capable of beating them,” said Davis, who totaled 27 points in the Magic’s 102-98 loss in Boston.
If the playoffs started today, the Celtics (37-26) — who clinched a fifth straight Atlantic Division title and the Eastern Conference’s fourth seed — would face the Hawks (37-25) in the first round, but the Magic (36-26) still have a shot at the fifth seed and a date with the C’s. However, Orlando may have to do it without Howard (herniated disc) or Turkoglu (fractured face), both of whom remain doubtful until the playoffs and questionable beyond.
Which is why those in the Magic locker room viewed their four-point loss in Boston as a positive, even if the Celtics were also without two stars in Rajon Rondo (back) and Ray Allen (Allen) as well as a key role player in Mickael Pietrus (knee) — all of whom are expected back for the playoffs.
“Today, we didn’t even have two of our guys,” said Davis. “They didn’t have two of their guys, but at the same time we had a big missing piece today, and we still came out there and played the right way and was in the game. So, whatever happens, happens. Whoever we play, Indiana or Boston, we are going to bring energy, and we are going to play hard, and that’s all that matters.”
|Magic drama and the Celtics postseason||04.05.12 at 3:35 pm ET|
Magic coach Stan Van Gundy blew the lid off the simmering tensions in Orlando on Thursday when he told reporters that management had informed him that star center Dwight Howard wanted him fired at the end of the year.
Or as Howard Beck from the New York Times put it:
“A well-placed Orlando Magic source claims Dwight Howard has asked the team to fire Coach Stan Van Gundy. The well-placed source? Stan Van Gundy.”
What followed was a revealing, and then awkward press conference. “It’s 12:02 right now,” Van Gundy said. “If they want to fire me at 12:05 I’ll go home and find something to do. I’ll have a good day.”
Then Howard appeared, apparently unaware of what his coach had just said. Some awkward small talk ensues and it’s clear that Howard still doesn’t know what just happened, setting up the walk-off line as Van Gundy throws Howard to the wolves: “Are you guys done with me? You can talk to him now.”
Various players have already spoken on, and off the record, in support for Van Gundy yielding a giant mess for a team that as of last week seemed fairly secure in the third spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs. But the Magic have lost four straight and been passed by the Pacers in the standings.
That leaves them in fifth for the moment, opposite of where the Celtics are sitting as the fourth seed. (An important note: Winning the Atlantic Division doesn’t guarantee homecourt advantage in the first round. If the fifth seed has a better record — like the Magic do know — they would get homecourt in the series.)
Regardless, the Celtics playoff positioning is a tenuous thing. They have a game and a half lead on the slumping Sixers for first place in the Atlantic Division, but also are in the middle of facing their toughest stretch of games against quality opponents. They could finish anywhere from third to seventh.
Here’s how the standings look at the moment:
3. Indiana 33-21
4. Boston 30-23
5. Orlando 32-22
6. Atlanta 32-23
7. Philly 29-25
Here’s how they look simply by record with Games Behind noted after record:
Indiana 33-21 –
Orlando 32-22 1
Atlanta 32-23 1.5
Boston 30-23 2
Philly 29-25 3.5
The Celtics play all four of those teams once and the Hawks twice, which will set up a frantic race to the finish.
|Celtics: Irish Coffee||10.01.10 at 8:51 am ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …
Rajon Rondo shows off his comedic chops in the newest NBA 2K11 commercial. It’s essentially a take on the old “Da Bears, Da Bulls” sketches from Saturday Night Live. Derrick Rose asks a group that includes Rondo, Andre Iguadola, Joe Smith and Russel Westbrook the question, “What about the ’86 Bulls vs. the 2011 Celtics?” Of course, everybody picks the Bulls.
In truth, other than Michael Jordan, the ’86 Bulls roster was awful, finishing 30-52. Let’s hope the ’11 Celtics finish better than that. The ’97 Bulls vs. Genghis Khan is a way better question.
O’Neal vs. O’Neal
Dime Magazine rated Shaquille vs. Jermaine O’Neal as one of the top-10 position battles in the NBA this season. Honestly, I don’t see it. Jermaine should start until Kendrick Perkins returns, and Shaq should provide 15-20 minutes per game off the bench. One man’s opinion.
Celtics 1, Politicians 0
The Boston Media Consortium agreed to reschedule the Oct. 26 gubernatorial debate between Deval Patrick and Charlie Baker, so as not to coincide with the C’s opening night game against Miami. I guess we know where Boston’s priorities lie. Big Baby for Governor?
Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski got the C’s–Shaq, in particular–to open up about the Heat. And let’s just say there’s no love lost between them.
“They got a great 1-2,” Shaq told Yahoo, completely discounting Chris Bosh‘s presence. “Everyone is young this, young that. I’ve been in the NBA Finals six times in the last 16 years, and I haven’t seen a young team make it all the way and win it. They may look better, but they don’t do what we do.”
Wojnarowski says not to expect the Celtics to come out of the gate fast. “Not with Delonte West suspended 10 games and Perkins out until February and Doc Rivers monitoring his player’s minutes to make sure everyone’s fresh for the playoffs,” he writes. “Rivers has kept it civil with the Heat, but he knows his players hate most of them, and this entire buildup brings a level of loathing that makes the coach feel like these are the old days.”
Paul Pierce echos those sentiments: “We’ll continue to go at our slow pace and creep up on everybody.”
I gotta be honest: I don’t like the sound of that. Do they really think they’re sneaking up on anybody? Don’t tell me we’re gonna be sitting through another lackadaisical regular season. I expect the C’s to come out of the gate with something to prove. Their first game is against Miami, the same team that everybody seems to be anointing already. In their first 10 games, they face the Heat twice, the Knicks, the Bucks, the Bulls, the Thunder and the Mavericks. Are we expected to believe that Boston won’t be up for those games?
Shaq Watching the Paint Dry?
Stumbled across an old article in The Onion, entitled, “Shaq To Solidify Celtics’ Ability To Get 3-Second Violations.” Thought that was pretty funny …
“Not only does Shaq’s presence in the paint give his team more opportunities to turn the ball over, but the Celtics have also added an experienced big man who makes an already old team significantly older,” said NBA analyst David Aldridge, adding that O’Neal should fill a key role in terms of drastically slowing down the Celtics’ offense. “Danny Ainge was looking for someone with size who can’t make it down to the other end of the court, and he went out and got the best in the business.”
The Van Gundy Rule
The NBA dress code has gone too far: Stan Van Gundy is no longer allowed to wear turtlenecks. What is this world coming to? Next thing you tell me, Brian Scalabrine won’t be able to wear his corduroy sportcoats.
“I don’t like that,” Rivers told the AP. “I really like Stan’s style. I thought Stan really set the bar for the dress code. I think he should stay with that. I think it’s nice.”
|SVG: Celtics weren’t playing possum||05.24.10 at 10:27 pm ET|
Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy said anyone who thought the Celtics were holding back during the regular season just because they won only 50 games is terribly mistaken.
“I think that’s a bunch of crap,” Van Gundy said. “I think they had injuries, period. I don’t think they were holding anything back. Kevin Garnett had a serious knee injury that takes a lot of time to get back to full strength. When we were at the All Star Game, at that point, I didn’t either Garnett or Pierce were at full speed or looked healthy, still. I thought Kevin was still having trouble with mobility in that leg and Paul’s foot was bothering him. Injuries mean a lot.”
Van Gundy saw both Garnett and Paul Pierce during the All Star break in Arlington, Texas. He said he knew at the time, the Celtics weren’t at full strength. The Celtics finished fourth in the East with a 50-32 record, behind Cleveland, Orlando and Atlanta.
“They weren’t 41-41 were they? The way everybody talked about them they exploded out of the blue after winning 41 games,” Van Gundy added. “Didn’t they win 50 games? Fifty games is a hell of a season, and those guys weren’t healthy. I don’t they were out there saying, ‘Let’s hold it back.’ I think that’s ridiculous and I think it’s insulting to them, quite honestly.”
Doc Rivers knows a thing or two about getting shown the door. He was dismissed early in the 2004 season following a 1-10 start in Orlando after earning coach of the year honors in 2000. He has watched as Mike Brown won 60-plus games in back-to-back seasons and led his team to the NBA Finals in the year before.
“I don’t know what you have to do to keep your job,” said a perplexed Rivers.
|Van Gundy won’t ‘bury’ Pierce, KG in All-Star Game||02.07.10 at 4:14 pm ET|
The temptation is there for Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy. As coach of the East in the NBA All-Star Game on Valentine’s Day, he knows he’ll have three Celtics at his beck and call. He would love to play them a lot, put a few more miles on their tires.
But with the two teams squaring off Sunday at the Garden, a week before the big game at Cowboys Stadium, he doesn’t see much point in wearing out Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo so Celtics coach Doc Rivers doesn’t have to worry too much.
“He’s got a better chance of me resting his guys because we don’t play him again. So, if we played him the week after the All-Star Game, they’d all go about 42 minutes,” Van Gundy joked before Sunday’s game. “But with us not playing them again, I can’t get much out of burying them.”
But seriously, Van Gundy has the challenge every coach in every sport has in an in-season All-Star Game. How do you manage players on competing teams in an exhibition game that means nothing in the standings?
“I would plan to get together with all of them, but particularly I know Paul and Kevin have had injury concerns and see where they are.”
[Click here to hear Van Gundy dish on the Celtics and the All-Star Game.]
So, in doing his homework, Van Gundy is consulting the Celtics — specifically assistant coach Mike Longabardi.
“I just told Michael Longbardi to make sure if Doc has concerns that he lets me know, too, ahead of time,” Van Gundy said.
“I’m not looking to hurt anybody, and at the same time, obviously, Kevin was voted into the game by the fans and Paul’s a perennial All-Star, so fans are going to want to see those guys, so you can’t play them five or six minutes. Particularly Kevin as a starter, he’s got to put in some minutes, but we’ll see where they are and where Doc is.” Read the rest of this entry »
|A kinder, gentler Van Gundy?||11.20.09 at 8:20 pm ET|
“I’m going to be be more constructive,” Van Gundy said. “I’m not Little Mary Sunshine, but I’m going to work on being less negative. Be more constructive.”
Van Gundy is one the league’s most direct coaches in his dealings with the media, and also one of the most sarcastic. Not surprisingly, that has rubbed some of his players the wrong way over the years. Van Gundy said he would try to work on it after a meeting with star center, Dwight Howard, but he did want to clear up what he said was a misconception about the nature of the sit-down.
“Dwight didn’t come to me about anything,” Van Gundy said. “I went to Dwight and said, ‘What’s going on?’ Why are we not playing with enthusiasm?”
Van Gundy went on to say that Howard mentioned a few things (expectations, injuries) before getting around to Van Gundy being too negative in his assessment of the team.
“It’s not as big a deal as it’s been reported,” Van Gundy said. “I thought it was done in a positive way.”
Van Gundy and Howard had a public disagreement after Game 2 of the Celtics-Magic series last season when Howard campaigned for more touches.
Howard said everything was copacetic between the team and the coach. “I just told him that we need to see more positive than negative.”
Asked for his reaction, Doc Rivers said, “His coaching style is just fine, honestly.” A few minutes before Rasheed Wallace came by and good-naturedly yelled that he and the group of reporters huddled around him were a fire hazard, which prompted Rivers to add, “On this team it’s the opposite. I go to Rasheed and say, ‘Can you be calmer?’”
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