June 19, 2008


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LONGSHOTS: Letters from the NBA finals
by Dave Long

Since weíre in my dead zone period that messes with us being current, between the loss in Game Five, filing this story before Game Six and its publication a day after that game Ö letís go to the mail bag to see what inquiring minds want to know about things up to Game Five.

Dear Dave: Are you glad you got the wish you made last February for the Celtics to face Kobe and the Lakers in the NBA Finals? Blanche Allison, Wonderland Road, Wishingwell, Kan.
Dear Blanche: Got to ask this first: you donít see a lot of Blanches around these days; is it a family name? Now for your question ó yes, Yes, YES! Win or lose, the Cs and Lakers are one of the great rivalries in sports and itís wonderful finally seeing it revived. And I say that after enduring unending repetition of ABCís Mike Breen saying the same thing over and over again about Magic and Larry.

Dear Dave: Are you a Doc guy? M. L. Auto, 16 Banners Lane, Enthusiasm City, N.C.
Dear ML: I had issues last year about the non-college guysí needing to learn fundamental basketball. But I also said then, heíd be a very good coach with a veteran team. And he has been. Although the way he uses his bench opens him to second guessing, his instinct/feel for picking the right player at the right time has been good from start to finish. So yes, Iím so much a Doc guy, Iíd have liked to play for him.

Dear Dave: Do you see Paul Pierceís comeback from his Game One injury being like Willis Reed with the Knicks in the 1970 final? Red Wholesman, 12 Pearly Gates Avenue, Phase Del Boco Vista, Heavenly, Fla.
Dear Red: No, itís more like Larry Bird getting knocked cold in the elimination Game Five vs. Indiana in the 1991 playoffs. It didnít look good when he didnít come out for the third period. But he emerged mid-way through it to give the crowd and the Cs a huge lift. Then he did real damage by finishing with 32 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists in a 124-121 win. Thatís what Pierce did, though his injury looked a lot worse than Larryís. As for Reed, he got hurt in Game Five of the finals vs. L.A. and never came back as the Knicks somehow rallied to win anyway for a 3-2 series lead. Then we learned Willis had the injury many thought Pierce had, as he tore the muscle off the bone in his hip. He missed Game Six in L.A., which Wilt dominated by scoring 45. So everyone in New York knew they were dead if he couldnít play. So we waited to see if he could and didnít know until he came down the aisle right before Game Seven started. Curt Schilling in the 2004 playoffs was more like that, as from game to game you didnít know if he could pitch. Those who saw the game know it was literally OVER after Willis scored the first four points, but, from the ďnice to know but you donít need to know file,Ē the guy who did the damage was Walt Frazier, who scored 36 with 19 assists and five steals. He was unbelievable.

Dear Dave: Are you a Phil Jackson guy? He ticked me off with disparaging comments about Paul Pierceís injury. George Michael, 23 Jordan Rules, Texas
Dear George: Psychology is part of his game and he was trying to use it downplaying the Pierce injury. Though, since he was in Madison Square Garden as (an injured) member of the Knicks, he knows a lot more than most about the Reed thing. As a coach heís won nine titles, but heís also had the best team in his 10 finals. And thereís an art to winning with that talent. But heís yet to put stealing one as a coach on the rťsumť. But still, heís pretty good.

Dear Dave: Are you in agreement with the national mediaís fawning assessment that Kobe Bryant is the equal of Michael Jordan? Marc Jaxsen, 12 Fawlshott Lane, Clueless, N.M.
Dear Marc: Iíll say this as politely as I can: they must be on drugs. I got an e-mail the other day from Manchester Millrats GM Ian McCarthy statistically comparing their careers. There is not even ONE category where Kobe is close. Thatís no knock on him, because while Iíd take Tim Duncan and Lebron James over him, heís in the top three. I make the point emphatically because a clueless, follow-the-pack media is creating a myth that many accept. You want to say Tiger Woods ó thatís a fair fight. Because like Michael, he imposes his will on the field that puts him in the back of everyoneís mind. So with due respect to Kobe ó itís embarrassing.

Dear Dave: Iíve been following the Lakers for a long time and I donít rank Kobe as high among all-time Lakers, let alone as number two in the history of the game. What do you think? Claude Chichearn, 14 Broadcast St., Hollywood Heavens, Calif.
Dear Claude: Iíll be accused of being a pre-Tarrier line fuddy-duddy, but Iím with you. It may be different as he retires, but right now heís just the sixth-best LAKER! And thatís only because Wilt played there for a few years and George Mikan is from basketballís prehistoric era. If Wilt counts and you rate on importance to winning, itís eight. And those who say ďhey what about Big Game James Worthy?Ē might move him to NINE. But Iíll stick with sixth behind (in descending order) Magic Johnson, the leader of a team with five rings; Kareem Abdul Jabbar, six MVPís and the leagueís All-Time scorer; Jerry West, great defender, scorer, passer and as good a clutch shooter with it on the line as Jordan himself; Shaq, the straw that stirred the drink when Kobe was just the second banana; and the great Elgin Baylor.

Dear Dave: You buying what Bob Ryan is selling, that Paul Pierce is the most explosive Celtic ever? Peter Mara, Vich Cove Road, Aliquippa, Pa.
Dear Peter: Iíve always been a card-carrying Pierce guy, and Ryan doesnít get caught up in the moment, so maybe. The issue is how he defines ďexplosive.Ē If it means scoring in bunches, how can he leave John Havlicek and Sam Jones out of that discussion as he did? If itís the ability to score from anywhere at anytime, he might be right. Heís got better range than Hondo and is better than Bird at taking it to the basket. If itís end-of-the-game shooting, well, Iím not sure heís as good any of those three, but heís been pretty good at that too, so heís in the argument.

Dave Long can be reached at dlong@hippopress.com. He hosts the Absolute Sports Experience at Billyís Sports Bar in Manchester each Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon that is broadcast live on WGAM Ė The Game, 1250-AM Manchester, 900-AM Nashua.

6/12/2008 A Father's Day letter to dad

6/5/2008 Twenty-one and six are the lucky numbers for the Cs
5/29/2008 Sometimes a bat is just a bat
5/22/2008 Some questions for folks right up there in the front row
5/15/2008 Numbers don't add up to supposed Fenway
5/8/2008 Cavalier attitude nearly derails first meeting with LeBron
5/1/2008 I'm so old,I remember ...
4/24/2008 Sox Line-ups, Celtics and ESPN investigations are in the mail bag
4/17/2008 Show me the way to that All-Star Game
4/10/2008 For C'ing a great time ahead as playoffs arrive this spring
4/3/2008 Bill James and the stats for 2008 ó Take Two
3/27/2008 Drowning in the NCAA office pool
3/20/2008 Whether forecast is right or not is the question
3/13/2008 Comment sparks wonder over just what I did
3/6/2008 New hires, new trades in pro sports
2/28/2008 Celtics issues far from black and white in the early days
2/21/2008 Congressional ineptitude muscles in on steroid hearings
2/14/2008 Basketball rounds into form under the cover of Pats football
2/7/2008 A giant win leaves Patriots fans feeling blue
1/31/2008 Foxboro lads earn pats on the back, and old Celtics mystique makes sense
1/24/2008 Mail bag asks about Rice, the hall and wild-eyed liberals
1/17/2008 Peyton manning the fort back home as Pats take on Chargers
1/10/2008 Grumpy old Dolphins are lost at sea on this one
1/3/2008 The primary concern is getting a clear picture
12/27/2007 The annual sports awards close out 2007
12/20/2007 Holiday gifts for the deserving and not so deserving
12/13/2007 Jets land in Foxboro as pat go number 14
12/06/2007 To include or not to include Ellsbury ó that is the questione
11/29/2007 Yanked from the sports pages in the Big Apple
11/22/2007 Here's what I'm thankful for at Thanksgiving
11/15/2007 Waiting game leads to a series of random thoughts
11/8/2007 OK ó it's week nine and I'm ready to talk
11/1/2007 Finally a little shut-eye for a sleep deprived nation
10/25/2007 A rocky mountain high for Red Sox Nation
10/18/2007 Time to go to the mailbag
10/112007 Who'd more popular, Patriots or Red Sox
10/4/2007 IA weekend chock full of nuts, chokes and great moments
9/27/2007 I hate to say I told you so...
9/20/2007 Media and fan bias shades the severity of sports crime
9/13/2007 All round baseball week starts with a look at leaders
9/6/2007 It's Superbowl or bust for Pats in 2007
8/30/2007 The race is on as baseball enters September
8/23/2007 Spine vs. lack of spine theme for school board debate
8/16/2007 Time for thoughts from the summer mailbag
8/9/2007 Will this three make it big in Boston?
8/2/2007 Trading places all in a day's work for Boston GMs
7/26/2007 Getting out of a slump; an ameteur golfer can feel Sox' pain
7/19/2007 Does second chance guarantee a great outcome?
7/12/2007 Masse still a honeymooner in local baseball culture
7/5/2007 Brown Monster a big Fisher Cat hit
6/28/2007 Rambling along with some random thoughts
6/21/2007 The future is now for the C's come Thursday night
6/14/2007 Homers create bonds among fans for generations
6/07/2007 Sox win by losing two of three this weekend
5/31/2007 Lutz of things to think about
5/24/2007 Down 2-0 Mís for playoff payoff
5/17/2007 Baseballs' conventional wisdom is for the birds
5/10/2007 The Rocket lands in Gotham during Monarchs' playoff break
5/3/2007 Raiders say "No Moss" in fight with talented wideout
4/26/2007 A little history on the ancient Sox and Yanks rivalry
4/19/2007 Lessons to be learned from Robinson, Monarchs and I-Man
4/12/2007 A few questions for the sports gods
4/5/2007 Stanton his case on a variety of current topics
3/29/2007 Sox spring back into action on Monday
3/22/2007 A guide for having fun on NCAA hockey weekend
3/15/2007 The madness of March kicks off on Thursday
3/8/2007 Jumping through hoops after an odd season
3/1/2007 A trip to the mail bag for Hippo Sports
2/22/2007 Six degrees of Muhammed Ali
2/15/2007 Monarchs rule as streak reaches 12
2/8/2007 Talking a good game ahead on all-sports WGAM
2/1/2007 Manning the Super Bowl watch more difficult in '07
1/25/2007 Winning and what else matters in college coaching
1/18/2007 ESPN polls are fanning the flames of national lunacy
1/11/2007 Patriots marching to MIami promised land
1/4/2007 Predictions for 2007
12/28/2006 REcognizing the best on the national front
12/21/2006 Present under the tree for all
12/14/2006 Mailbag open for busines at a time filled with questions
12/07/2006 Lions and Gators and Bears, oh my
11/30/2006 Does Fenway frankness roll to the negative side?
11/23/2006 Turkeys and thanks as the big day arrives
11/16/2006 Green-around-the-gills Celts looking to earn some respect
11/9/2006 Blame game reaches new local low
11/2/2006 A week of highs and lows in sport
10/26/2006 Curses! The U is foiled again
10/19/2006 Time for a trip to the sports mailbag
10/12/2006 U turns Granite Stare around on football
10/05/2006 James' gang riding into town to face the Celtics
09/28/2006 Words to describe a lost Red Sox season
09/21/2006 Football Friday can't stack up to Saturday
09/14/2006 A lesson to be learned in remembering a somber day
09/07/2006 Usual pat choice to win AFC East questioned
08/31/2006 Whining won't yank AL East away from NY
08/24/2006 Spring forward or fall behind for Sox
08/17/2006 Trash talking abounds in the Empire over Sox and Pats
08/10/2006 Monarchs call press conference to crown new leader
08/03/2006 Deadly Fenway duo leave mark on history
07/27/2006 Word of the wise gets lost in sports translation
07/20/2006 Looking beyond the Big Three
07/13/2006 Cream rises to the top of baseball talk at the Dot
07/06/2006 Greetings and salutations toThe Nation at mid-year
06/29/2006 Being dealt is a consequence of the trade
06/22/2006 A year later, Boudreau's cup runneth over
06/15/2006 See dogs and cats battle for a different fan experience
06/08/2006 Not Bad Anymore league makes a comeback
06/01/2006 Luck goes Sox way with Lowell in Massachusetts
05/25/2006 Pitching in to help the Sox trade a few places
05/18/2006 Going to school by cutting Red Sox payroll
05/11/2006 Columnist blows his mind; here are the results
05/04/2006 Yanks stormed Manchester 37 years ago this week
04/27/2006 Regular crowd nowhere to be found come playoff time
04/20/2006 Questions and answers from the mailbag
04/13/2006 Local sports teams spring into action
04/06/2006 Predictable Red Sox season lies ahead
03/30/2006 Analyzing this and that as Pats roster shrinks
03/23/2006 A week of following the bouncing balls
03/16/2006 The beginning of four days of basketball bliss
03/09/2006 Many miss the central point of the story
03/02/2006 Better late than never to jump through local hoops
02/23/2006 Celtic green means raw, not envy as it once did

02/16/2003 An issue that is all black and white
02/09/2006 Nomar curses from the UL's Sullivan
02/02/2006 Super memories from 40 years of watching the big game
01/26/2006 A certain uniformity to the inquiries in the mailbag
01/19/2006 Sudden end to Pats' season leave just one thing to do
01/12/2006 Pats on the back for the football team
01/05/2006 Predictions for Manchester Sports 2031
A lesson for Leo the Lip and nice guys everywhere

Chop House opening is Berra of good news
Event-filled weekend missed en route to evil empire
Heroís death lays to rest misuse of the word
Saint Theo ascends to new heights in The Nation
Santa sack filled to the brim with sports
Patriots march through injuries toward threepeat
Sports talk should be on the air
Stars shine brightest when winning is in the mix
The†Demonization of Johnny Damon

Thirty-seven topics and so little space
Too many holes in Sox for repeat
Trip to the injured list makes it a long weekend for local scribe
Turkeys and giving thanks take center stage this week
Yanked from the edge of your seat