LONGSHOTS: Bonner bombs away on Cs in Garden party homecoming
by Dave Long
Except for the outcome, it was a pretty fun day last Sunday at the T. D. BankNorth Garden, wasn’t it?
That was the day local lad Matt Bonner lit up your (and formerly his) Boston Celtics for a season-high 23 points in a 105-99 San Antonio win. It was one of those feel-good stories from start to finish with ESPN picking up the “it’s a Bonner homecoming” theme and doing a nice job of it to boot. It was also the latest loss at home to a league power for the Celtics and dropped them a little farther back of L.A. in the race for home court advantage in the playoffs. And as it unfolded it sparked a wide variety of random thought about the participants, including the following:
Many in the national TV audience probably were saying who is that guy hitting all those threes. But if I were Doc Rivers I’d have been shouting at the guys, “Is anyone going to cover that Bonner guy?!”
Let’s give Mike Tirico a pass for saying that busloads of folks from CON-cord, New Hampshire, came “200 miles” to see Bonner play — because, as I said, ESPN and Tirico, in particular, did a great job with the Bonner theme throughout.
Since Bonner moved into the Spurs’ starting line-up they’re 27-7, which, for the mathematically challenged, is a winning percentage of 79.4. Projected over a season that’s 65 wins. During that time he’s shooting 49.2 percent from international waters and 54.1 percent overall.
Hubie Brown may not be as funny as the likable Jeff Van Gundy is with Mike Breen and Mark Jackson on ABC’s top broadcast team, but no analyst in any sport gives as much meaningful information as he does, and that includes the Remdawg, which is saying something.
Does it bother anyone besides me that since the semi-massacre in L.A. on Christmas Day the Celtics are, as I write this, 1-6 against the only six teams in the NBA with a winning percentage of .600 or better? And three of the losses came at the Garden. Hmmmm...
You want a common denominator? In the six losses Rajon Rondo averaged 8.2 points a game and shot 35 percent (21-60) when for the season it’s 50.4 percent and 11.2.
How about that the Lakers are 7-2 against that same group and just went 5-0 on their trip east — which included Kobe’s 61-point game ending Boston’s 12-game winning streak when Kobe shot 10-29 and Cleveland’s 23-game home winning streak in back-to- back games. And they did it without Andrew Bynum to boot. Hmmmmm again.
The UL’s Kevin Gray (or is it Grey, I can never remember) is the latest to provoke my ire in using the word “snubbed” when someone doesn’t make an all-star team or in this case, Bonner being left out of the three-point shooting contest during NBA All-Star Weekend. Sometime people don’t make All-Star teams because there are too many guys having great years for the available slots. That means someone ain’t going to make it, which is disappointing, but it AIN’T a snub!
At least not according to the definition of “snubbed” in dictionary.com, which says it’s “To treat with disdain, or contempt, especially by ignoring. To check or reject with a sharp rebuke or remark. An affront, slight or rebuff.” No one treated the redhead with disdain — so let’s get over this “poor me” snubbed stuff please.
Kramer walking right past Gail Cunningham on Seinfeld — now that was snub. Michael Jordan refusing to play with the one and only dream team if that, to use Johnny Most’s phrasing, back-stabbing weasel Isiah Thomas was also on the team was a major snub. Both were on purpose and done with disdain. Although in Kramer’s case it worked out, because Cunningham liked the snub and he wound up going out with her, but that’s a story for another day.
Now if you want to say Bonner got screwed for being left out, I’ll buy that. I mean how do you leave out a guy who EARNED it by being second in the league at 49 percent? I’ll buy Jason Kapono being in it even though he’s far down the list at 41.7 percent, because he’s the defending champ. But shouldn’t performance during the season count? That’s how the coaches and non-starters get picked.
And then there’s Eddie House — now that guy really got snubbed.
And speaking of the choice of words. This is probably semantics but can we all stop using the word “hero” as the UL did in their story when talking about an athlete when we’ve got two wars going on? It just doesn’t seem like the right word to me.
I like Michael Wilbon’s Fab Five thing at halftime, but he whiffed badly on his Fab Five Big Three choices. First, the guy’s from Chicago and he had Jordan, Pippin and Horace Grant in over the first two and Dennis Rodman. I mean Grant was a good player and Rodman’s nuts — but he should be in the Hall of Fame and was a lot better than Grant. I’ll buy the other groupings of Wilt, Elgin Baylor and Jerry West, James Worthy, Magic and Kareem, Bird, Parish and McHale (ain’t walking through that door), and won’t quibble about the order.
Though am I the last to remember that Cedric Maxwell had a lot more to do with two of the three championship teams McHale was on than he did?
But Wilbon’s top group of Bob Cousy, Bill Russell and Sam Jones really wasn’t a big three at all. First because thanks to Bill Sharman Sam wasn’t a starter until 1962 when the Couz was past his prime and a year away from retirement. But second, the C’s were really a Big Two (Couz and Russ) surrounded by five other Hall of Famers.
And while we’re at it here’s how dictionary.com defines “dynasty”: a SEQUENCE of rulers from the same family, i.e. the Ming Dynasty (which lasted from 1368 to 1644). The key word is sequence — like the following coach, player, player sequence of Auerbach, Russell, Cousy to Russell, Russell, Havlicek to Heinsohn, Havlichek, Cowens to Fitch, Bird, Archibald, Parish to KC Jones, Bird, Parish, McHale as the Celtics won 16 titles in 30 years. So the Patriots ain’t one until they do it with a new quarterback, a new star on defense and win a couple more. Sorry.
A thumbs-up goes to the UL and Gray, who, besides the snub comment, get high marks for doing a great job with what was a nice story for all of us in the New Hampshire basketball family.
And, oh yeah, almost forgot, it wasn’t a one-dimensional day for young Mr. Bonner either, as he also had eight rebounds to go along with two assists and a team-high 17 shots while spending much of the day guarding Kevin Garnett.
All in all, a pretty cool day.
Dave Long can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He hosts the Absolute Sports Experience at Billy’s Sports Bar in Manchester each Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon that is broadcast live on WGAM – The Game, 1250-AM Manchester, 900-AM Nashua.