In this portion of our look at Second Wind Memoirs of an Opinionated Man by Bill Russell, he talks a little about Red Auerbach and their relationship.
For all these reasons, our motivation had to increase a little each year, which made Red's job even tougher. We were always carrying the same amount of water up the hill, but with every championship and every year the hill got a little steeper. Red was running around behind us like a madman, cussing, screaming and cooing us to the top. He had to be a little crazy. Red and I had our own motivational dances and routines we'd go through, mostly in private. He yelled at me publicly only once - in a hotel in Yugoslavia, as I recall - and I yelled back twice as loud. It didn't work to yell at me, and he didn't have to anyway. The first half of my second season I played like a wild beast, helping the team to such a huge lead that nobody could hope to catch us in the regular season. Then Red called me into his office one day. This was to be my first pep talk, though I didn't know it at the time. "We've got the division sewed up already," he confided. "You know that as well as I do. I can understand that you're letting up a little bit because there's nothing to drive you. Well, you should be MVP in this league, and in this game you can't turn it on and off. You have to play all the time as well as you think you ever could. You know that. And I'd like to end the regular season winning big so that we won't have to do anything different in the playoffs." He went on and on, never raising his voice, alternating little morsels of flattery with appeals to my belief in excellence. That night I went out and broke the league record in rebounds. By Red's standards, everything he did to help motivate me was subtle. Over the years we worked out all kinds of gimmicks. He'd call me into his office and ask my permission to yell at me the next day in practice, just so the other Celtics wouldn't feel persecuted. I'd agree, and the next day he'd cuss me all up and down the floor so ferociously that his regular victims like Satch and Heinsohn would feel sorry for me. Or we'd trade favors. I'd call him up and say, "Hey, man, I don't feel like practicing today. My arthritis needs some treatment." I hated practice. "You want to go to the library, darling?" Red would growl. "I didn't say that." I'd laugh. "Okay," he'd say, "but you owe me one." A month or so later we'd be out on a road trip facing a game that Red wanted to win extra bad, and he'd call me over in the locker room. "You owe me one, right?" "Yeah." "Well, I want it tonight." And he'd get it. It was only fair. Over the years, Red worked me over regularly. He'd make a casual remark to me about how well someone on an opposing team was playing. I wouldn't say anything, but the remark would fester in my mind because I didn't think the guy was playing that well, so I'd work extra hard the next time we faced that player's team. Only later would it hit me that Red's remark hadn't been casual after all. Everything he did was calculated. As I got to know him better I'd laugh whenever he started telling me that Bill Bradley was the greatest college basketball player who'd ever played. This meant we had a big game coming up with the Knicks and Red wanted me to help Satch guard Bradley. We'd both know what was going on, but it didn't matter. Red didn't have to work hard to appeal to my pride because I was basically self motivated. I showed up ready for (almost) every game, and all I needed were occasional boosts. An unusually high percentage of the Celtics were the same, driven by something inside of them that didn't need much outside fuel. Cousy was that way, and so were Sharman, KC, Ramsey, and Havlicek. Sam Jones was a special case, but his motivation als depended largely on himself. There is no question in my mind that we won championships because so many of us had so much confidence that the air was thick with it.
And, here is a story that Bill relates about Sam Jones.
After a few seasons with the Celtics, I noticed that Sam Jones could take over a game too. He wouldn't do it the say Oscar did, or nearly as often, but sometimes he gave off a feeling that he simply would not let us lose this game. He'd shoot, steal and score layups and when the other team tried to gang up on him, he'd feed the rest of us for easy baskets. Sam took on a glow that said, "This game's over." But it only happened about one game in twenty, and I puzzled over it for a long time. I couldn't figure it out, so one day I asked, "Sam, why don't you play like that all the time?" "No, I don't want to do that," he said without the slightest hesitation. He knew exactly what I meant, and he'd already thought about it. "I don't want the responsibility of having to play like that every night." I was floored. "It would mean of money," I said. "I know," Sam replied, "But I don't want to do it." Sam knew how good he was, but he made a choice and lived with it. Many players since him have refused to make that choice; they want the star's money without the responsibility. While I believe that players should be paid as much as the market thinks them worth, I also think the star's money carries the extra load. I respected Sam's choice, but I didn't understand. One night when we were playing in St Louis he got the ball wide open at the foul line; nobody was near him, which is like giving the Celtics two points. But he just stood there two or three seconds and let the defense recover. None of us could believe what he'd seen. "Sam, why didn't you shoot?" I asked, as if I was about to cry. "Cause I couldn't see the bucket." "You what?" "I couldn't see the bucket," he repeated seriously, as though the statement made sense. "What do you mean you couldn't see the bucket!" I screamed. "I couldn't see it," he said. "The light was shining in my eyes, and I didn't like the way it looked." I kept waiting for him to laugh, but he was serious, so there was nothing to do but shrug my shoulders. When I first started coaching I called Sam over one day and said, "I want you to call the plays when you come up the court." It was routine assignment. "I can't call the plays," he said. Something was wrong. "What do you mean?" "I don't have the authority to call the plays," said Sam. I tried to control myself. "Sam," I said, "I'm the coach, and I just gave you the authority!" "Oh, no," he said, as if he'd caught me trying to pull a fast one. "You're the coach, but I still don't have the authority, so I can't call the plays." He looked at me as if he knew he was right. I don't know exactly how I looked back at him, but I couldn't think of any response that seemed right, so I sighed. "You're right Sam," I said quietly. 'You can't call the plays." I never could guess what Sam was going to do or say, with one major exception: I knew exactly how he would react in our huddle during the final seconds of a crucial game. I'm talking about a situation when we'd be one point behind, with five seconds to go in a game that meant not just first place or pride but a whole season, when everything was on the line. You're standing there feeling weak. The pressure weighs down on you so brutally that it crushes your heart as flat as a pizza, and you feel it thudding down around your stomach. During that time out the question will be who will take the shot that means the season, and Red would be looking around at faces, trying to decide what play to call. It's a moment when even the better players in the NBA will start coughing, tying their shoelaces and looking the other way. At such moments I knew what Sam would do as well as I know my own name. "Gimme the ball," he'd say. "I'll make it." And all of us would look at him and we'd know by looking that he meant what he said. Not only that, you knew that he'd make it. Sam would be all business, but there'd be a trace of a smile on his face, like a guy who was meeting a supreme test and was certain he'd pass it. "You guys get out of the way," he'd say.
I really didn't get into all the Hall of Fame hoopla. Until they induct Dennis Johnson into the Hall, I don't really think they have a lot of credibility. And, I really have never liked Michael Jordan. He was always the enemy, but more than that, he always struck me as such an egotistical jerk that I really, really never liked him. Kind of like why I have never liked Kobe, even aside from the fact that he is a Laker.
So, I didn't watch the Hall of Fame induction ceremony. I figured it would be just a lot of bowing and scraping before the great Michael Jordan. But, I really thought that Jordan would be gracious on the day that he was inducted into the Hall of Fame. I guess I was wrong. In reading the reactions to his speech, it seems that he tossed everyone he could think of under the bus. He was petty and egotistical right to the last. I never liked Michael Jordan and I like him even less now. Here is Adrian Wojnarowski's take on the speech from Yahoo.com:
This wasn’t a Hall of Fame induction speech, but a bully tripping nerds with lunch trays in the school cafeteria. He had a responsibility to his standing in history, to players past and present, and he let everyone down. This was a night to leave behind the petty grievances and past slights – real and imagined. This was a night to be gracious, to be generous with praise and credit.
“M.J. was introduced as the greatest player ever and he’s still standing there trying to settle scores,” one Hall of Famer said privately later.
From the speeches of David Robinson to John Stockton, Jerry Sloan to Vivian Stringer, there was an unmistakable thread of peace of mind and purpose. At times, they were self-deprecating and deflective of praise. Jordan hasn’t mastered that art, and it reveals him to be oddly insecure. When Jordan should’ve thanked the Bulls ex-GM, Jerry Krause, for surrounding him with championship coaches and talent, he ridiculed him. It was me, Jordan was saying. Not him. “The organization didn’t play with the flu in Utah,” Jordan grumbled.
On to a more pleasant note, Gabe Pruitt has been signed to a training camp contract with the Knicks. I like Gabe. He always had a smile on his face and seemed to be trying really hard, but never quite did enough to impress Doc. I hope he does well enough to get a contract with New York. With that signing, along with Mikki Moore to Golden State and Leon Powe to the Cavs, the only player from last year's Celtics' team who isn't signed is Stephon Marbury. Starbury seems very happy in his own little Twitter world these days. I'm not sure if he will come out of it in time to play this season or not.
Semih Erden, the Celtics' second round pick from last season is in the news. Here he is making Pau Gasoft cry in the game between Turkey and Spain in the European championship qualifying round. Turkey won to remain undefeated in tournament play.
Turkey’s big man, Omar Asik, attacked Pau Gasol time and time again in the first half, outscoring him 13-8 and posterising him several times. Asik actually seemed quieter when guarded by Marc Gasol. The Turkish center seemed to give his team-mates the confidence to go at the Los Angeles Lakers star player and the other Spanish big guys who, Marc Gasol notwithstanding looked out of sorts on the day. Turkey’s other center, Semih Erden, manhandled Pau down the stretch.
I love it! Gasoft can't even play in Europe without Celtics manhandling him. Erden seems to be developing nicely. Not sure when his contract with Turkey will be up, but it would be worth giving him a shot with the Celtics when it is.
There have been more and more articles about how Daniels is going to be the back up PG and if they sign a PG like Lester Hudson, Mike Taylor or Ty Lue, it would be as the 3rd PG. My question is, will Daniels be backing up both the PG and the SF positions? Will Bill Walker get a chance to show what he can do? Or, does Danny still have a move or two up his sleeve? 16 days till training camp for these questions to be answered and I can't wait!!
Still more from Bill Russell's book Second Wind Memoirs of an Opinionated man on the humor and wild streak that made those early Celtics teams special. There were some nights when I simply didn't feel like playing. Not many, but a few. A basketball season is an endless line of boneweary nights, and I would be so exhausted after the playoffs that it would take me a month or so just to recover the energy to function normally. I'll admit that I gave in to the fatigue during some games, and be out there just going through the motions. That's when I could count on it: Whack! A loud noise, and pain would shoot upward from my kidneys. I'd glower at the other center. A few plays later, I'd be beating that other center to death with the basketball, just like my old high school coach had taught me. I'd forget that I was tired. But once in a while, if I were lucky, I'd turn around after a whack quickly enough to see that it was not the other center who was hitting me, but sneaky little KC Jones, my own teammate! I'd let loose a string of obscenities at him, and KC would stare back at me with an innocent smile. "Well, you weren't doing nothing out here," he'd say, "so I had to get your attention." I'd give him another string of obscenities, and then we'd laugh. We also used laughter as a way of communicating about problems that other teams might sulk about. Once I got a rebound under our basket, and seeing that the other team's defense had broken down somehow so that both Sam and KC were standing wide open at the foul line, I deliberately passed the ball to Sam. He was the better shooter; it was that simple. As we ran back up the court, KC gave me his impish grin and said, "Didn't think I could make it, eh, Russ?" He laughed about it. He knew I'd done what was best for the team; at the same time, it stung him a little to be reminded that he wasn't the team's best shooter. But KC would laugh that sting away. It was his way of restoring his own confidence. But laughter was also simply pure recreation, and we had some purely witty contributors, like Satch Sanders. From the day he first arrived in his big knew pads (which Red took away from him), horn rimmed glasses held on with a rubber band, and other affectations, Satch interfered with Red's serious intentions. Red would get angry because Satch could make people laugh without saying a word, by just standing there, and nobody could explain why. Satch had a way all his own. Once he got so nervous in a White House receiving line that all he could say as he shook President Kennedy's hand was, "Take it easy, baby." One day he decided that it was time to get married, but when he showed up to pop the question to his sweetheart, she was not at home. Finally Satch got tired of waiting and went over to another girl friend's house and married her instead. (Of course it didn't last.) Then there was Gene Conley, a marvelous athlete who backed me up at center and also pitched for the Boston Red Sox. Conley had a hostile streak as deep as a well, ans used to throw at Mickey Mantle's crippled legs whenever he pitched against the Yankees. Apparently Mantle had once told reporters that Conley didn't have much of a fastball, and Gene never forgot it. "A man with legs like that don't have no business bad mouthing pitchers," Gene would say, "so I throw at those little stems of his every game. I still hit him every now and then." Conley was the only Celtic who could play with a hangover and without sleep, and he loved to spin yarns about it. He could make everybody laugh, but he had one drawback, he couldn't prevent himself from hurting people physically. Often he'd hurt Celtics shooting warm-ups; he'd be out there in another world and run right over somebody. After a few such injuries, Conley found himself shooting all by himself in a cleared zone that everybody avoided. Finally he managed to hurt himself. He was standing there shooting a simple set shot, when he somehow twisted his back and was laid out on the floor with an injury. "A man with a back like that don't have no business shooting set shots," we told him, as he was carried off the court. Frank Ramsey was the pluckiest character on the team. He was always talking about money and made shrewd investments. He played championship basketball, but he was put together in an odd way: he was so pigeon toed that you thought his feet would trip over each other, and when he ran his ass stuck up in the air like the back end of a bootlegger's car. People laughed when they saw him run for the first time. What the bumblebee is to flying, Ramsey was to running; it looked impossible. But he got things done on pure Kentucky grit. I never played with anyone who relished being in the middle of a scrap. He was only six foot three, but he'd crash right in there, get offensive rebounds, dribble past everybody and lay the ball in, and nobody could ever figure out how. It was because he could jump high, run fast and play hard, but this never seemed to dawn on other players because he didn't look as though he could move. Frank talked flawlessly all season long, but when the playoffs rolled around, he stuttered. You could count on it at the end of the season, and Red used to ride him about it unmercifully. Once Frank was sitting in the locker room before a playoff game, staring at a swollen, jammed finger. We were always getting our fingers jammed, but that didn't stop us from playing, because the training put on a small plaster cast to guard against further hyperextension. When the trainer got to Ramsey, Frank held up his wounded finger and said, "Do you think you could fuh-fuh-fuh-fix my fuh-fuh-fuh-fanger?" Red overheard. "Having trouble with your f's again, eh Frank?" he taunted, and went into his merry, obnoxious laugh. "F**k you, Red," said Frank. "How's that?" The whole team cracked up, and we laughed our way all through the playoffs. Ramsey's exquisite sense of timing never failed him in a joling session, and neither did his determination in a game. The grimmer the situation, the more cocky he'd get. "Are you worried, Rams?" we's ask in a tight situation. "Naw," he'd drawl, and we'd all laugh and feel better.
Even though Marc Spears is no longer the Celtics' beat writer for the Globe, he still is doing more reporting on the Celtics than the Celtics reporters are. Lex over on Lex Nihil Novi has been demanding some answers and straight talk about KG's knee. We finally get some answers from Marc Spears on Yahoo.
Garnett began working out at the Celtics’ practice facility on Monday. For now, he is limited to participating in court drills that include shooting and running. He could be cleared for contact as early as the week before camp.
“We’re looking for him to be there at the end of the season, not just the start of the season,” Ainge said. “We’re getting him ready for training camp and looking forward to him being healthy in the playoffs. He looks good. Really good.”
So there you have it. KG has been participating in drills but hasn't been cleared by the doctors for full contact yet. He looks good enough that they are hoping for that clearance before training camp starts. Sounds good to me. I think they would be wise bringing him back slowly. In the beginning of the season, it would be better for Sheed to get more minutes anyway to get acclimated to the Celtics' system.
Marc also tells us that Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Rasheed Wallace also are working out at the Celtics’ training facility. We have gotten word through Twitter that Shelden Williams is there working and Danny previously said that the young guys have been there for awhile already working out. Just like in 2008, they are getting a head start on the season.
Also in Marc's article is the fact that Danny still isn't sure if he will offer Rondo an extension before this season starts. If he doesn't work out an extension now, Rondo will be a restricted free agent next summer. Giving him an extension now seems to make the most sense. By next summer, I am certain that Rondo will increase his worth by having another great season. I am also certain that some team will be willing to overpay for Rondo to keep the Celtics from matching. I'd rather lock him up now instead of possibly losing him and having to find another point guard. If you are lucky enough to find a great PG, you should try to keep him.
And finally, the Celtics are considering signing another PG, which I think is a smart idea since they actually have only one right now. All the recent articles talk about finding a 3rd point guard behind Rondo and Daniels. If Daniels is indeed being considered as a back up PG, does that mean that Bill Walker is ready for minutes at the back up 3? Anyway, Marc comes through again with news that the Celtics have a few PG's in mind:
Possible candidates include second-round draft pick Lester Hudson(notes) and free agents Tyronn Lue, Dan Dickau, and Mike Taylor, who worked out at the team’s facility on Thursday.
I hadn't heard anything about Mike Taylor previously. I wasn't even sure who he was. So I did some checking and he was a rookie last season and played in 51 games with the Clippers. He averaged 5.7 points, 1.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 15 minutes per game. He played two years at Chippola Jr College and one at Iowa State before joining the Idaho Stampede in the NBA Development League for the 2007-08 season where he averaged 14.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists as the team’s sixth man. He is 6'2" and is described as extremely quick and athletic and as a tremendous ball-handler with good change-of-direction ability.
We also learned yesterday that Dan Dickau has been invited to training camp and that he is a Danny favorite. Lue also has to be considered a favorite in that he is one of KG's best friends. I'd feel better with a true PG on the roster as a back up in case the Quisy at point experiment doesn't work out as good as Danny hopes it will, or even if Quisy is needed more at the 3 rather than the Point.
More on the Celtics' sense of humor from Second Wind Memoirs of an Opinionated Man by Bill Russell.
In order to communicate humorously with a teammate in the heat of a game, without words, you have to know him very well. The love of humor on the Celtics helped sharpen our knowledge of each other. I remember once when Bob Cousy threw me a pass under the basket near the end of a game. I was wide open, and all I had to do was dunk the ball. But a number of things instantly went through my mind. The opposing center was Walter Dukes, who loved to hit me in the head after every shot I took. I could count on it; Walter would slap me so hard on the side of my head that I'd shed tears involuntarily. He didn't mind getting caught. And I thought about how we were ten points ahead with less than a minute to go, and then I decided, "Nope, it's not worth it," so I simply just dribbled the ball out from under the basket. Cousy was out there laughing. He knew when he passed me the ball that I wasn't going to take the dunk. He knew that I'd figure that we had the game well enough put away so that I wouldn't take my beating. He and I laughed so hard that we lost the ball, but not the game. Cousy was always doing crazy things when he figured the pressure was off. He'd bring the ball up the court looking serious and call a nonexistent play - Twenty-two! - and turn his back after passing the ball to Sharman, who'd be dumbfounded. There were only a few players in the NBA whose humor was so natural that they could play well under pressure while constantly chuckling on the court. Of these, the jolliest one was Walt Bellamy, a center whose career overlapped with mine. He was a childlike bear of a man ans was always scowling, grumbling and talking to himself with this little grin underneath that nobody could resist. During games, he referred to himself in the third person, as "Good ol' Walt Bellamy." If a referee called him for being in the lane too long, he would get this exaggerated look of mock pain on his face and keep chattering: "Oh, why did they call three seconds on good ol' Walt Bellamy? Mister Russell and Mister Chamberlain -why they can homestead in there and they don't get called for it. No, sir. But not good ol' Walt Bellamy. All he's got to do is look in there. Just abuse him. Call anything on good ol' Walt Bellamy." By this time, he'd be at the other end of the court, laughing to himself. Sam Jones was a master at laughing while playing his guts out. His humor was always therapy for us, and Red knew it. Sam wasn't a great theoretician of the game, but he was slick. He'd hustle people out on the court all night and have a high time doing it. He always had something going with Wilt, for instance. Against Philadelphia he'd dribble the ball around the top of the key toward the corner, and I'd set a good pick against the man guarding him. When that happened, Wilt was supposed to pick Sam up. Sam would stop about eighteen feet out, and in a falsetto voice would call, "You better come on out here, Wilt Chamberlain!" Only Sam could sound that sassy, and he always added Wilt's last name, like a mother scolding her child. Wilt would be near the basket, about a step and a half from blocking Sam's shot, but in the next instant Sam would yell, "Too late!" as he let fly a bank shot - which always went in. He'd do it over and over. Sometimes he'd yell two or three times before shooting, if he were open long enough. Finally Wilt would be irritated enough to come out after him, and the instant Wilt lunged to block the shot, Sam would flip the ball to me and I'd dunk it. Which also irritated Wilt, because he hated to see me dunk. All the Celtics enjoyed this play by play immensely, but I had mixed feelings. I know it was good for us to have Sam teasing Wilt, because it's always wise to get your opponent distracted. On the other hand, as a general rule I didn't like Wilt to get riled up, so once I made the supreme mistake of asking Sam to lay off. It was a confession of worry, which was like declaring open hunting season. "What's the matter, Russ?" Sam would ask. "You ain't afraid of him are you?" This got around to the other players and every chance they got they'd ask me if I was afraid of Wilt. On my bad nights, KC would make matters worse. KC harassed all the centers in the league. He was a master at it. He'd run by an opposing center while the teams were switching at the end of a quarter and, without a referee or a fan in the whole place noticing it, would step on the guy's foot as he went by. Or he'd grab his jersey - anything to irritate the man. KC picked on centers because he thought it was important to distract them, and because they were usually too slow to retaliate. KC always seemed to step on Wilt's feet a few extra times whenever I showed the slightest worry about his mood, and then he and Sam would laugh themselves silly at my distress. They were right, of course, because I had no business worrying about Wilt's attitude.
For those of us who were hoping that Danny would sign a veteran point guard, I can guarantee than no one had Dan Dickau in mind. But, the news from the Globe is that Danny has invited Dan Dickau to training camp.
The Celtics have offered former guard Dan Dickau a training camp invitation, according to agent Mark Bartelstein.
Dickau, who turns 31 Sept. 16, played last season in Germany, averaging 17.6 points in just five games for the Brose Baskets.
Dickau could serve as a third point guard behind Rajon Rondo and Marquis Daniels and is a favorite of general manager Danny Ainge.
Dickau has played 8 seasons in the NBA for Atlanta, Portland, Dallas, New Orleans, Boston, Portland again, and the Clippers. His career averages are 5.8 points and 2.5 assists in 15.4 minutes per game. He played only 19 games in his first stint in Boston before tearing his Achilles tendon. The biggest concern I have with Dickau is his defense. I'd rather have Tyronn Lue but Dickau is worth a look. It's also possible Dickau is coming in with nothing guaranteed to create some competition for that back up spot with Lester Hudson also coming in.
The Globe has Dickau as the 3rd point guard behind Rondo and Daniels. So, if Daniels is the back up point guard, that still leaves the question of who is going to back up Paul Pierce?
Finally, AI is a grizzly. Now they can still not make the playoffs
God to AI and Zach Randolph: "Thou shalt not pass ..."
Zach "Black hole" Randolph meet Allen "1 on 5" Iverson. This is the best idea since Isiah paired Steve Francis and Steph Passing the ball in Memphis is going to be like Federer hitting a forehand: You know the ball is not coming back. Iverson-Memphis marriage destined to end up like Rodman's and Carmen Electra's
Nothing will help foster Mayo and Gay's development than adding noted nurturing influence Allen Iverson. You've done it again Chris Wallace. RT @alleniverson: God Chose Memphis as the place I will continue my career--God has a great sense of humor or a poor sense of ball movement Coincidentally God Chose $2 Million More Reasons to Facilitate the Allen Iverson and Memphis Grizzlies Partnership
Next up was the announcement that the NBA may use replacement refs to start the season because they are having problems coming to terms with the regular refs. This brought out this reaction and a very good question:
Will replacement refs learn how to suck in time for the season?
There must have been 5 or 6 articles today about Stephon Marbury calling it quits and hinting at retirement. Not to be outdone by all those articles, Starbury himself tweeted this response:
Retire. LOL. They need for you to think I'm going to do that because they know I'm focused and ready to play this year count me in for 5 yrs
Don't believe the hype someone is trying to build off of saying I said or wrote that I wasn't going to play. Sorry no box for me. LoL..
Of course, a team has to offer you a contract in order to play in the NBA and it isn't clear whether any GM's will take a chance on his mental state to offer him one.
Mark the Calendar for Sep 27, 2009, Minnesota and Boston Have Engaged in Low Level Talks Concerning Chucky Atkins and Damien Wilkins ...
Follow Me Here, Much Like Barry Situation in Hou, Atkins Could Be B.O. Prior 27th. Giddy, Scal and TAllen Been Connected to Both Rumors ...
Ainge Has Interest in All Three Players. Damien Won't be Bought Out, Brent and Chuck, Maybe.
Now, both Atkins and Wilkins are owed around $3.4 million on the final years of their contracts. So if he did this, Danny would be swapping expiring contracts for expiring contracts. Not sure how much a 35 year old Chucky Atkins still has left but Wilkins is an interesting player. As with all rumors, it's probably just smoke in the wind but gives us something to tweet about.
Finally, Shelden Williams is in Boston working out with the players who are already in town and he had this to say:
Just go done with r first day of pick up games went well r team won 3 game to 1
Speaking of Shelden, Twitter can also be educational. Here is an exchange educating Shelden on ubuntu:
CB: you up to speed on Ubuntu yet?
SW: on who?
CB: oh man, first thing you gotta do is talk to someone and have them explain Ubuntu to you (key to the title 2 years ago)
SW: never heard of it
CB: its about "team ego" - here ya go: http://www.celticsblog.com/...
SW: oh ok thanks
S5k oh man, it's ALL ABOUT ubuntu.
SW: oh ok
Looks like Doc will need to begin the season with another lesson on ubuntu to bring the new guys up to speed.
It seems like these 20 days till training camp are going to be the longest 20 days of the summer. The Suns have announced that they are beginning 5 on 5 scrimmages with most of their players already in camp. Weeks ago, the Magic all gathered to do some workouts and build chemistry. Danny mentioned that the younger guys were already working out and that Pierce was in town. I would feel a whole lot better if the Celtics had the mindset they did when they won the 2008 championship. Everyone was in camp already by the beginning of September. We have several new guys and it would be good for them to build chemistry with the returning guys. Hopefully we will get a report on KG soon too. I don't buy the no news is good news argument. I want to hear an actual report that he is in town and playing basketball.
Here is what a couple of our players are up to. Ray's son celebrated his birthday yesterday with a safari theme and Ray joined in the festivities with some face painting.
He looks pretty fierce and I think he may have something here. Maybe start painting all the guys on the team before games. It might just give them an edge. And here is what else Ray has been up to: he played in the recent Deutsche Bank golf tourney and has been using golf to keep his competitive juices going this off season.
Marquis Daniels has been cheering on the Florida State Seminoles and is dressing the part. I don't know why the top got cut off but if you click on the picture it will take you back to the original.
Congratulations to Candace Parker and the LA Sparks for clinching a playoff spot. Candace's husband, the Celtics' Shelden Williams is in Boston getting a start on the season. This is Lisa Leslie's final season and she is one of the true class acts of the WNBA. I'd love to see her go out as a champion. Also, if Candace wins a championship, Shelden would be even more motivated to get one of his own or he might not live it down.
Celtics Hub is running a contest along with Forum Blue and Gold where you can win some Converse shoes for hating on the Lakers. Good deal! I've been hating on the Lakers for decades and will happily continue doing so for free. Anyone who has been around me for any length of time knows how much I absolutely abhor the Lakers. I shared an anecdote on the Celtics Hub site that I will repeat here to show how deeply my dislike of the Lakers goes.
I have been a Celtics fan since high school back in the 60’s. And needless to say, I have always had an intense dislike for anything Laker related. One time my son (who was in middle school) brought a friend home from school who had the misfortune of wearing a Lakers tee shirt. I made him wear wear a shirt over it while he was in the house so I didn’t have to look at it. He didn’t come back again. He thought I was a bit deranged because he was wearing the shirt just cause he thought it was cool and didn’t understand why I didn’t like it. :)
Celtics fans who were afraid that Iverson would end up in Boston can breathe a sigh of relief as he just sent this tweet out:
God Chose Memphis as the place that I will continue my career. I met with Mr. Heinsley, Chris Wallace and my next head coach Lionel Hollins
Iverson will sign with the Grizzlies. Now maybe the rest of the PG dominoes will fall into place and Danny will finally make a move to bring in a PG to back up Rondo.
20 days till training camp. KG, SugarRay, The Truth, Rondo, Perk, The Landlord, Quisy, Big Baby, Sheed, Eddie, Sky Walker, JR, Tony, Scal, and a PG to be named later. The best starting 5 and one of the deepest benches in the league. I'm getting really excited. How about you?
In this Part of our series on Bill Russell's book, Second Wind Memoirs of an Opinionated Man, Bill shares some of the wilder side of the Celtics along with some humor.
Though Walter (Brown) was beloved, he still got his share of ribbing. Everybody did; it was the backbone of the Celtic tradition. Walter was vulnerable because he was the slowest driver in history. Every summer he drove up to Cousy's basketball camp in New Hampshire, about one hundred and twenty five miles from Boston, and for him it was a three day trip. I don't think he ever went more than thirty five miles an hour in his life. We used to play exhibition games in Providence, about fifty miles from Boston, and after the game, Walter would come into the locker room, say, "Nice game, fellas," and leave to drive back to Boston. Then we'd have a postgame meeting, talk to the press, shower, and every single one of us would pass him on the way back. We'd go flying past him, and if you looked sharp you could see him cringing behind the wheel. The closest I ever saw him come to terror was just after he let Red take a spin in his new Cadillac. "That's a nice car, Walter," Red said, "but the motor starts skipping when you go over a hundred and five." Certain Celtics were known to bribe cops to stop him for speeding, just to hear about the look on his face. The players' driving habits were just the opposite of Walter's, of course. We were the scourge of every police force in New England. Frank Ramsey was probably the wildest. One night in the early years, when we were playing an exhibition game in New Hampshire, I asked Frank if he knew the way to the next town. "Yeah," he said, "follow me." He took off, with me following close behind, shot through an intersection and went flying down a little country road out of sight. I tried to catch him - eighty, ninety, a hundred miles an hour - muttering under my breath. But the cops stopped me. "I know it doesn't make any difference, officer," I said to the one writing out the ticket, "but I was only speeding because I was following an outlaw Boston Celtic named Frank Ramsey to a basketball game. He was going too fast for me." The cops looked shocked, and then to my delight said they'd help me catch him. They jumped back into their car, turned on their revolving light and siren, and we roared off after Ramsey just like they do in the movies. I wanted to catch Frank so bad I could taste it, but we never got close; Ramsey was long gone. Actually, speeding was mild stuff for the Celtics. We may have been old fashioned gladiators in the pioneer days of pro basketball, but we had a gaudy, high pressure, show business life. Pressure builds up, but you can't let it get to you in the game, so you let it out almost everywhere else. Since almost all of us were married, it would be rude to go into detail, but if a bomb had blown up our road hotel on any given night, it's safe to say there'd have been a large number of extra bodies in the wreckage. Whenever the NBA expanded there'd be a rush among the players to scout out women in the new cities. Our life was a lot like that in a war zone. We were young and crazy, and whatever maturity we had was used up on the court. On the Celtics it was generally a mistake to be discreet about anything, because sooner or later you'd be found out, and when you were, that tender spot was exactly where your teammates would aim their jokes from then on. It was safest to be wide open. Our humor was toughening. Pro basketball is a high intensity business, and you can't afford to be worrying about your insecurities when you're playing, so anything the slightest bit offbeat about one of us was bound to be pecked at until the player could laugh at himself. Only people who can laugh at themselves are really confident, and we always laughed at ourselves. Once we were playing Wilt's team in the semi-finals of the NBA playoffs, and the series came down to the seventh game. As usual, there was so much tension in our dressing room before the game that nobody could talk. I'd already thrown up once, and was thinking about doing it again. While I was sitting there in misery, I looked over and saw one of our players trying to light a cigarette. He went through three or four matches to get that last pregame smoke going, but his hands were shaking so badly that he couldn't manage it. I watched him sitting there shaking like a man with the DT's, and suddenly I started laughing. My laugh is so loud that I've seen people on planes move to the other end just to get away from me. If a giraffe could laugh, it would sound like me. So when my laugh burst out into the fear stricken silence of that dressing room, half the players jumped a foot and the rest were so scared that they threw towels and shoes at me. I didn't care, I was laughing, out of control. The guy with the cigarette saw that I was looking at him. "What's the matter?" he asked looking peeved. "You better play your ass off tonight, boy!" I shouted. "If you don't, you're in a heap of trouble!" "What do you mean?" "Well, if we lose tonight, by this time next week you'll be back home with your wife!" Now everybody in the locker room was watching this player. We all knew that he had a permanent girlfriend on the side during the season, but he had to go home to his wife during the off season, and everybody knew he preferred his girlfriend. He tried to look disgusted at me while still attempting to light his cigarette, but he couldn't hold it. His big belly laugh rumbled up and popped out, and he blew the whole unlit cigarette across the room and started hee-hawing as much as I was. The other Celtics all broke out laughing, too - one by one, and then in a rush. We laughed for five solid minutes, and you could almost see the compressed tension oozing out of us like heat waves rising off the desert. Satch Sanders was on the floor with his feet up in the air, and the other guys were crying. When that fateful knock came on the dressing room door, we were so loose we were limp. We went out onto that court still chuckling and proceeded to win another series on the way to another championship.
Here is Bill's take on winning and what made the Celtics a winning organization.
In order to win you have to get yourself past a lot of things that may not be vital to winning but make you feel good, like scoring a lot of points. You have to forgo the pleasure of proving a point, because what somebody else wants you to prove may be inconsistent with the way you should play to win. At first this idea was difficult for me to accept. When I came into the NBA, it was widely believed that any big player had to be able to shoot well from the outside like Dolph Shayes, Tom Heinsohn, and Bob Petit. If he couldn't, coaches, writers and fans would shake their heads and say, "He can't play." That's what they said about me when they saw that I couldn't make shots from twenty feet, so naturally the one thing I wanted to do was stand outside and shoot twenty footers. I missed almost all of them, of course, and when I did people shoot their heads and said, "See what I mean? He can't play." After a few kind words from Red Auerbach, like "Russell, what the hell are you doing shooting from way out there, besides making a fool of yourself?" I realized my stupidity and left those shots for Bill Sharman. That lesson was relatively easy because I couldn't make those shots; it was much harder to learn not to prove things that could do, like blocking hook shots. In the NBA back then, a hook shot was considered almost unstoppable. I could block one, but I had to learn that proving it was not the point. Blocking hooks to show that I could do so would be bad strategy on my part. For one thing, I didn't want players to stop taking hook shots, which they might if it became known that I could stop it; for another, I'd already learned that you don't try to block every shot. What you try to do is intimidate your opponent with the idea that you might block any shot. Knowing which shots to go after is one of the most difficult arts in defensive basketball, and it contributes a great deal to winning games. But proving your point about hook shots is not part of the art. None of the Celtics, least of all myself, eliminated completely all those little personal goals that can interfere with winning. But we didn't have to. For my first few years I looked at the numbers after the game because I wanted to lead the league in rebounding. Cousy wanted to lead the league in assists. Sharman wanted to lead the league in free throw percentage. Heinsohn wanted to lead the league in field goal attempts, and Red wanted to lead the league in technical fouls and fines. The good thing about it was that no two Celtics had the same boal and that nobody was trying to play the wrong role. Professional athletes, being competitive and vain, usually find it difficult to accept limited roles, but the Celtics were wise enough to know how important it is. Sam and KC Jones knew for a certainty that neither one of them would ever start as long as Cousy and Sharman played, but they accepted their roles because we were winning. Similarly, Frank Ramsey and John Havlicek were better players than the various Celtics who started ahead of them, but neither of them fussed. Instead, they made the sixth man part of the language of basketball. They were perfect for the part because they were hybrid players, not pure guard or pure forward. Havlicek was so good and so durable in this role that if I were playing in an imaginary pick up game among all the players I've ever seen, he's the first one I would choose for my side. I used to worry that hew was too much of a team player, if that's possible, and that he would overreact to suggestions about what would help the team. For the first part of his rookie season, Havlicek was so unselfish that he would always pass the ball, even when he was wide open. He thought a team player is one who passes all the time, which is not true. A team player is simply one who does all he can to help the team win. This may mean shooting more, rebounding more, sitting on the bench more - anything. The whole team, including Red, urged Havlicek to shoot more, and when the message finally got through, he went out one game and put up forty two shots! It was some sort of team record at the time, and we teased him about it for weeks. (He was usually on the receiving end of Celtic humor.) Red would never let things get far out of focus. He thought about winning more than I thought about eating when I was little. He ached when we didn't win; his whole body would be thrown out of whack when we lost. He didn't care about any player's statistics or reputation in the newspapers; all he thought about was the final score and who had helped put it on the board. He was our gyroscope, programmed solely for winning, and it was difficult for any of us to deviate from the course he set for us. Red has always been one of the most single minded men I've known. Suppose by the 1990's, I were to become the first black president of the United States, had cured cancer, has won the Nobel Peace Prize and had picked up a dozen Oscars in my movie career. If someone were to ask Red about me, he would say, "Russell? Oh, yeah! He played for me. A great player. I don't care how old he is, he could still play better than any of them out there now." Under similar circumstances, I think he'd say the same of Cousy, Heinsohn, Sam Jones or KC. But being single minded about winning didn't mean that Red knew only one road to travel. He was always coming up with a thousand angles. He was open with us about some of them and secretive about others, but that was all right. What really mattered was that we trusted him; we knew his anctions were directed solely toward winning and not out of some petty grudge against one of us. We also respected his intelligence. Red is not someone you would wish to have leading a platoon against yours in a war game. He had just enough imagination to discover what he needs to win but not enough to slow him down daydreaming on the way. He'll get there quickly and come up on your blind side. It was just as important taht Red respected our intelligence, too. He was smart enough to know that you can't win without intelligent players, so he acted as if he had what he needed. We didn't harbor any rocket scientists on the Celtics, but we had a lot of players who were smart about the game. I don't believe that a championship caliber player in any sport can be stupid about the art and war of his game. He may not speak the same language that most professionals do, and he may not have a lot to say to people outside his game, but within his world he will be an advanced student. This has to be true, because physical abilities are relatively equal at the top of professional sports. One the Celtics, we believed that the principal difference between good teams and great ones was mental toughness: how well a team could keep its collective wits under pressure. That's something no coach can give you. In each split second a basketball game changes as fast as ten rapidly moving objects can create new angles and positions on the floor. Your game plan may be wiped out by what happens in the first minute of play. The coach can't be out there; the player has to see what is going on. More, he has to predict where a pattern of action will lead, and then act to change that pattern to the advantage of his team. Teams that can do this under the greatest pressure will win most of the time. Red gave us credit for understanding that different players had to play different roles in order to win. We couldn't expect to do so if each player took on the identical role of scoring as many points as possible, hoping that ours added up to more than our opponents'. One of the first thing he told me when I joined the team was that he was counting on me to get the ball off the backboard and pass it quickly to Cousy or Sharman for the fast break. This, plus defense, was to be my fundamental role on the team, and as long as I performed these functions well he would never pressure me to score points. He also promised that we would never discuss statistics in salary negotiations. This one conversation accomplished as much as a whole season's worth of tactical coaching. It showed me that Red knew what he was talking abut; he was asking me to do what I did best, and at the same time what the Celtics needed most. In addition, he removed a lot of the pressure I felt about scoring more. All that was to the good. If he'd said to me, "What we need from you is twenty five points a game," I might have been able to do it, but we wouldn't have won much.
21 days until training camp and I can't wait. There is a lot of speculation going on as to whether Danny will make another move before the season. We definitely could use a back up point guard. There has been talk that many teams are holding off on point guard signings until Iverson signs. There are rumors that Danny is still interested in Iverson, who has said that he would consider coming off the bench for a team. On Monday, Iverson met with the Grizzlies, who are reportedly offering 3.5 million for one year. The max the Celtics can offer is the vet minimum. AI doesn't strike me as the type of player would would sign for less for a chance to back up a younger PG off the bench. I just don't think his ego will let him.
With Tyronn Lue turning down the Greek offer, there is much speculation that he may be on the Celtics' radar. If Danny can't make a trade for a PG, I wouldn't mind having Lue for a backup. I think he would fit in great with this team. I have seen several fans mention how they would love to see Stephen Jackson in green since he wants a trade. I don't see Jackson coming to Boston though because he is set to earn $7.65 million this season and has 4 years left on his contract worth over $35 million. I don't see Danny going for that.
I think I may have a new favorite Celtic since Danny let another of my favorites, Leon Powe, walk. I have been really impressed with Shelden Williams' tweets on Twitter. He tweets about family and working out and seems to be really down to earth and loves his wife and baby. I love hearing about the baby and what she is doing. He takes the time to try to answer all tweets sent to him and that is impressive. He just arrived in Boston today to look for a place and start working out with the team. There is a great article in the LA Times about his wife Candace, who is great basketball player in her own right for the WNBA Sparks. If you get a chance, read this article about Candace and how she balances basketball and family. I'll definitely be pulling for Shelden this season and am hoping he will be even more impressive on the court as he has been off of it. Here's a picture of Candace and baby Lailaa.
And here are Shelden and Lailaa enjoying one of Candace's games.
ESPN is at it again, counting out the Celtics for this upcoming season. Nineteen of heir "experts" (and I use the term "experts" very loosely") pick the Lakers to repeat this season. Eighteen "experts" pick the Cavs to win it all. Eight "experts" pick the Spurs and only five pick the Celtics. Remind you of their "expert" picks before the 2008 finals?
Only one in ten picked the Celtics and we all know how that one came out. So, I take comfort in the fact that the ESPN "experts" aren't picking the Celtics to win this season. Being the underdog takes a lot of pressure off the team. The Lakers will be playing with a target on their backs as the front runner, just as the Celtics did last year. The Celtics, with all their talent can embrace the role of underdog and sneak up on everyone as the 2010 champions. I can't wait for the season to begin.... 21 days till training camp and exactly one month until the first preseason game. Anyone else getting excited?