The Not-So Rapid Reaction- Celtics Lose 120-107

Last night, after Miami put on the finishing touches of a 120-107 opening night win against my beloved Boston Celtics, I really wanted to sit down and hammer away all my thoughts on to this blog.  Truth be told, I am getting old and I fell asleep after the game.  It is likely better that way, as I have had time to organize my thoughts and not publish my patented knee jerk reaction that I am famous for.  I would like to continue this type of post but any faithful reader of NTCF knows our promises usually ring hollow.  I will simply take it game by game.  So without further adieu, here is my thoughts following last night’s game.

I will spare everyone the tired “Ray Allen is my ex-girlfriend from high school” analogy.  Whatever the case may be, he didn’t want to play in Boston anymore.  He wanted to live tax-free in Miami, play golf on his off days, and ride the coat tails of LeBron James and get another ring before he called it a career.  Boston fans have been “betrayed” before.  No doubt it stings a little bit more when a fan favorite decides to go play for your most bitter rival.  See Damon, Johnny. I admit, I had a sense of rage seeing him don a Miami Heat uniform.  I was happy that KG ignored him when he thought during the game was the perfect time to try to clear the air and get some “daps.”  Yes, it did hurt to see Ray pour in 19 points on 5-7 shooting and 2-3 from long range.What hurt more than his stats, however, were the times when the Celtics needed a bucket and couldn’t get one.  Because it was those times over the last 5 years that Doc could draw up a play to free up Ray Ray and he would bury a jump shot.   That is what I will miss most about Ray Allen.

Maybe the emotion was too much for the Celtics last night.  Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry were awful for the most apart.  Garnett has been known to get himself so psyched up that he can’t produce.  Last night was one of those nights.  Maybe it was the ring ceremony prior to the game, maybe it was the national spotlight, maybe it was playing against a former brother, maybe it was everything combined but KG was largely ineffective last night.  I also believe that Jason Terry was caught up in the moment of trying to hard to be better than Ray Allen.  He was all over the floor and not in a good way.  His shots were out of rhythm and his defense was sorely lacking.  I found myself very concerned about Terry.  He is not a true point guard and  I am not sure how his game is going to translate when being asked to bring the ball up the floor, something he is not accustomed to doing.

Jeff Green was a no-show last night as well.  I am willing to give him a free pass at the start of this season though.  He is coming back from open-heart surgery.  At this point last year, he was probably thinking that he would never play again.  Believe it or not, life is more important than sports.  I think Jeff was a bit emotional last night and wasn’t able to get into the game.  I am excited to have him back this season and I look forward to having him play with a full training camp under his belt with the Celtics.  Once the chemistry is established he will be essential to the team’s success.

What I took away most from last night’s game was how much I now loathe Dwayne Wade.  Every time he takes the ball to the basket and loses it he stops and stares down the ref.  He has become the biggest (insert derogatory slang term for the female reproductive organ here) in the NBA.  He has the audacity to call Rajon Rondo a punk after the game last night.  This is the same guy who dislocated Rondo’s elbow with a cheap shot 2 years ago in the playoffs.  This is the same guy that bridged Darren Collison last season.  This is no longer the guy that had the awesome commercial, “I fall down 7 times and stand up 8.”   It also drives me crazy that refs allow him to use his off-hand to stiff arm his defender when he drives to the basket.  It was probably the most pivotal play in the playoffs last year and it happened again last night.  At this time last year, I despised LeBron James.  After what LeBron did in Game 6 last year, I…I… (gulp) respect him.  Now, my hatred, my disdain, my insurmountable intense dislike is toward Dwayne Wade.

I am really hoping Doc lets Jared Sullinger play.  My one qualm with Doc Rivers is his knack for not letting rookies play.  Sullinger will be needed this season.  He will be needed to give Garnett rest.  He will be needed in the front court.  He is a large part of the future of the Boston Celtics.  Doc played him 8 minutes last night.  I understand there may have been matchup problems for him but I sincerely hope that Doc sets aside his policy about giving rookies minutes, and he lets the kid play.

I came away from last night’s game realizing the Boston Celtics-Miami Heat rivalry has surpassed the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry in my eyes.  The reason for that is two-fold.  1) The Red Sox are largely irrelevant right now and will be until they straighten out their operation. 2) LeBron has been public enemy #1 for the Celtics since the Big 3 arrived in Boston.  Now one of the members of the original Big 3 have joined forces with the enemy.  The Celtics are the only team in the NBA that have, can, and will take the Heat to 7 games in a playoff series.

Next up for the Celtics: Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis bring the Milwaukee Bucks into Boston on Friday November 2.

I can be followed on Twitter @ScottieNTCF

The Miami Heat are a Joke

I would like to preface this post by saying that I am fully aware the regular season in the NBA means absolutely nothing and I also fully expect the Heat to get a top 3 seed in the playoffs.

I really want to avoid writing about the Miami Heat.  I swore I would do my best to not care what happens in South Beach all season. But with all that has unfolded 17 games into the season, I am like a kid in a candy store that simply can’t help himself.  I have made no bones about my dislike for LeBron James.  Maybe because he is also 25 years old and he gets to play basketball for a living and I get to come home from a day of work and write about him.  I, also, like Cleveland and the rest of America love that the Heat aren’t exactly off to a smooth start.  Back in July when this “team” was first assembled, many thought the Heat would win 73 games and cruise to a NBA title.  Now they are three losses away from ensuring that one of Michael’s greatest records stays intact at least for another season.

Sean recently posted Michael Jordan commercially slapping LeBron James in the face.  In that very commercial, Jordan is quoted as saying, “Maybe this is my fault. Maybe I led you to believe it’s easy when it wasn’t.” Jordan basically says that he worked every single day, as hard as he could, to be as great as he was.  The Heat clearly aren’t from the Jordan blueprint.

This is a direct contrast to what Chris Bosh recently said about the Miami Heat as a team.  When asked about head coach Erik Spolestra, Bosh said, “He wants to work. We just wanna chill.”  Really Chris? Has anyone who ever wanted to win a title ever uttered those words?  After a loss to the Celtics on their home court, LeBron told the media, pointing to the stat sheet, “For myself, 44 minutes is too much.” Granted my basketball playing days are limited to CYO basketball but I can never remember saying I played too many minutes. Seriously LeBron? You played too much? Do you want some cheese with that wine? Over the course of a year you have gone from an icon to nothing more than a baby who, in all honesty, is yet to really do anything notable when it comes to the game of basketball.

Even Dwayne Wade has joined Wine Fest.  After getting out to a 5-4 start, Wade was quoted as saying, “We are the best 5-4 team in the league.” Is there such a thing as a good 5-4 team?  I found myself most disappointed in Wade as I expect more out of him.  I have always viewed Wade as a hard nosed player who worked hard on his game going back to his days at Marquette.  LeBron gets no such sympathy from me as he is a diva in the worst way.  And Chris Bosh? Well, he has shown that he should have stayed in Canada where he flourished because nobody was paying attention.

LeBron has continued to make news for all the wrong reasons.  The other night in Dallas after a timeout LeBron bumped his head coach on the way to the bench.  He is quickly gaining the reputation as an uncoachable player.  It is only a matter of time before LeBron will have gotten 2 head coaches fired in less than a year.  At the time of this writing, news broke that “the Heat are frustrated with Erik Spoelstra.” Chris Broussard of ESPN broke the story, the same guy who broke the news that LeBron would sign with the heat.  The same guy that is from Ohio and covered LeBron since his high school days.  Basically, this is a move by LeBron’s awful public relations crew looking to pass blame onto someone else.  Are you surprised?

This debacle is nowhere near Spolestra’s fault.  Wade and James are the same exact player in that they both need the ball in their hands to be productive.  Chris Bosh is not willing to mix it up in the paint.  The Heat don’t have a big man, a point guard, or a bench.  They have three diva superstars that admit they don’t want to work on their games and would rather “bring their talents to South Beach and chill.”  LeBron has complained that coach Spolestra isn’t letting him be himself after Spolestra chewed out LeBron for not taking pre game warmups and practices seriously.  Spolestra is essentially Sean Penn in Dead Man Walking. Everything is going against him and none of it is his fault.  Every team needs a glue guy and the Heat’s (Udonis Haslem) is done for the season.

People will argue that LeBron never asked for all this attention.  At that notion I laugh like Heath Ledger in the Joker role.  LeBron proclaimed himself as King James as a freshman in high school.  Everyone loves to compare him to Jordan whether it is fair or not.  But LeBron asked for that.  The problem is he is not even close to being in the conversation as the greatest to play the game.

The Heat may be the most interesting team in the NBA. They have the big names, the glamour, and the huge target on their backs.  The problem is that don’t have what it takes to be contenders.  Until they put all their personal agendas aside, they will continue to be the car accident you can’t look away from. The Heat will continue to hang onto mediocrity in the Eastern Conference and face an untimely exit in the second round of the playoffs.

Sorry Cleveland…You Just Couldn’t Get It Done

I’m just off of a great trip with my buddies down in Myrtle Beach.  Apparently no one decided to hold up the blog while I was gone, so I apologize for the gap in posts but now I’m back in action.

Dear Cleveland Cavaliers,

LeBron James provided you a seven year window to provide him the necessary level of talent to win an NBA Championship.  But, instead of giving King James a bit of support, you decided to try and let him prove that he was the best player in the NBA by attempting to win a championship on his own.  Now don’t get me wrong, LeBron by his lonesome got you guys pretty close, but the supporting cast was never present.  Throughout LeBron’s seven years in Cleveland, his best co-stars consisted of Drew Gooden, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Larry Hughes, Mo Williams, an old Shaq, and half of a season with Antawn Jamison.  If you put all of those players on a team with LeBron at one time, then you have a realistic shot at winning an NBA Championship.  But, spreading that motley crew out over a seven year span really provided James with barely any supporting cast in his quest for a title.

That being said, I believe that the new super team formed in Miami is an amazing thing for the NBA.  Not only will fans be interested in the Miami Heat throughout the entire 82 game season, but can you imagine how many people would tune in to watch a Miami vs. Orlando or a Miami vs. Boston Eastern Conference Finals series.  I don’t know if one could even predict the television ratings a Miami vs. Los Angeles NBA Finals would receive.  I personally am looking very much forward to seeing the fourth quarter of a close game with the Heat this upcoming season.  LeBron, D-Wade, and Chris Bosh have all shown the ability to dominate games when time is winding down and the score is tight, but putting all of those players on one time is going to make for some very exciting basketball, and some astonishing fourth quarters.  I am very supportive of LeBron’s decision and actually believe that it is a rarity in today’s sports world.  All players say that they want to win, but if that was true, then why don’t more players make decisions like this.  Why wouldn’t MLB/NFL/NHL players take a bit of a pay cut and join fellow All-Star’s to create super teams?  When it comes down to wins or paychecks, the vast majority of the time players choose paychecks.  LeBron is one of the few superstars ever to ignore the biggest paycheck and make a decision based solely on the opportunity to win championships.  Good job, LeBron, your decision is a good one in my book.

On a side note, the Trail Blazers traded for Ryan Gomes on draft day, and to free up some cap space have recently waived him.  If Gomes does not end up back in Boston, the men in green have officially lost me as a fan forever.  Not to mention they drafted the biggest bitch in Notre Dame history.

And by the way Cleveland fans, I understand your bitterness, but are you seriously burning LeBron James jerseys?  This guy just left it all on the court for your city for the last seven seasons and you can’t be happy at the success he brought your previously dreadful team?  You drafted LeBron James because you were the WORST TEAM IN THE LEAGUE!  Your team had the best record in the NBA over the past two seasons.  If Tom Brady left New England, or Peyton Manning left Indy, or Albert Pujols left St. Louis I would never expect those fans to act in such a disrespectful way.  To all the Cleveland fans acting like BABIES, you are pathetic and don’t deserve to have a winning team for the rest of your lives.

The Real Superman: His Airness

Shaquille O’Neal has a problem. Keep in mind that I do not have a degree in psychology, my diagnosis would have to be along the lines of a multiple personality disorder. Shaq-fu, or the Big Aristotle has tried to reclaim a nickname he had supposedly given himself roughly ten years ago…and the one only to be lost in a long list of names he has dubbed himself through the years. Dwight Howard 2 years ago in the slam dunk contest apparently had proclaimed himself, at least to my knowledge, as the newest Superman to lace up a pair of kicks and play ball. The problem for these two supposed owners of this supreme nickname is that Superman has already existed in the NBA…and was better than either could ever hope to be, as his name struck fear in those that opposed him while now the name has become equated with greatness…

That name is Michael Jordan…

In my opinion to be unfamiliar with his name, face, or logo is the same as not recognizing your father or mother…it just should not happen. Michael Jordan changed the way we view sports. You always had your great players in every sport before Jordan; obvious examples being Russell, Chamberlain, Howe, Orr, Yaz, Fisk, Bradshaw, Rose…naming a few. The greatness that is paralleled with these, and others, is undeniable; deservedly so. The difference between these superstars and His Airness is how Jordan was able to take his art form and transcend the world of sports and how people viewed athletes.

First, looking at his career numbers, Jordan is the greatest of all-time. He has EVERY major record for the Bulls, most which will not be even slightly touched. In all-star games MJ always brought out that competitive fire because he knew he was the best while playing amongst those considered to be the best in the world. Those numbers do not lie either; having the most points, field goals made and attempted, total steals, and is the only player to ever post a triple-double. Now, while these numbers speak for themselves, they do not truly mean anything compared to NBA records. In the regular season Jordan holds records for highest scoring average (30.1), most scoring titles (10), most consecutive scoring titles (7), most defensive first teams made (9), and most consecutive games with 10 points it more (866!). The regular season statistics are nice…now it is playoff time…
Here are the playoff records His Airness has set:
1,463 – FTA
4,497 – FGA
5,987 – Total Points
63 – Points in a single playoff game
6 – Finals MVP Awards
33.4 – PPG in playoffs
…and the ace in the hole…
41.0 – PPG in a single NBA Finals (1993)
…enough said, right?…wrong.

These are the hard figures as to why Michael Jordan was the first and last “Superman” the NBA will ever see. But Michael Jordan holds an intangible having to do with the basketball and non-basketball world alike. Jordan alone was able to do for basketball what game 6 of the 1977 World Series between Boston and Cincinnati did for the world of baseball: made it relevant to the country. The overwhelming difference is Michael made basketball relevant to THE WORLD. When the Dream Team was formed in 1992 it immediately became the greatest basketball team that did and would ever touch a court together. Yet, with all those stars combined to make a powerhouse, Michael Jordan was the one fans in Europe wanted to see and be around. He became the basketball pope with the crowds that would gather to see him.

In my view Michael Jordan became “Superman” when he sealed North Carolina’s victory over Georgetown in the NCAA Championship game. He proceeded to keep the title by taking 2 dunk titles. He continued by using his superpowers to overcome his nemesis, Isaiah and the Pistons, and winning his first title over the legend Magic Johnson. Following that up with 5 more titles in the next 7 years, which would have been 8 consecutive if he had decided to not play baseball after his fathers death. He never lost a Finals series…the aforementioned other two “super men” cannot say that. You can agree or disagree with the decisions he made about making two comebacks, but you cannot argue with the impact he made in the game and his status as the greatest player to ever lace them up, on or off the court.  Those other two players are going to have to find other nicknames.

When the list of the greatest players comes out again and the arguments start to ensue at the end of the careers of Kobe and LeBron about whether or not they were better than Jordan, it would be better to leave Michael off that list all together.  There is only one list for the best.