February 12, 2009

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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 dlong@hippopress.com. 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.


2/5/2009 Nation's angst ends as V-Tek says what the heck and rejoins flock

1/29/2009 Super Bowl Sunday brings to mind past and present
1/22/2009 The elusive quality of greatness is the topic of the day
1/15/2009 Spring cleaning of the sports mind a little early
1/8/2009 Will hall have Rice on the menu come July
1/1/2009 Predictions and wants for the year ahead
12/25/2008 A look in the rear view mirror at 2008
12/18/2008 The Pats' playoff run and new Yankees contracts make big news
12/11/2008 Random thoughts and associations
12/4/2008 Pats should consider options when it comes to Cassel and Brady
11/27/2008 Putting the thanks in Thanksgiving
11/20/2008 News of the week has people talking
11/13/2008 Cassel's in the clouds compared to early expectations11/6/2008 Mail bag delivers some interesting questiont10/30/2008"Yankees Suck" - like mentality fuels political discontent10/23/2008 No ray of hope as season closes in Tampa Bay
10/16/2008 Going to the nines a thing of the past
10/9/2008 C-eeing some interesting stories unfold this week
10/2/2008 "How come?" is the main question of the day
9/25/2008 Observations on baseball in 2008
9/18/2008 If I were a QB, a DB, a stat geek or a soccer mom ...
9/11/2008 After disaster Brady's bunch won't pass on season
9/4/2008 Pats start off with high expectation and some concerns
8/28/2008 A race to the finish to take all month long
8/21/2008 National news items of interest for local folks
8/14/2008 A little of this and that from the good side of sports pile
8/7/2008 Manny happy returns from the Evil Empire
7/31/2008 Manny being Manny - the sequel Part XXXII
7/24/2008 Open the mail bag for some Red Sox questions
7/17/2008 Hall-worthy or not the latest question on Schilling
7/10/2008 Baseball season has actually started
7/03/2008 UL editorial in denial — stop the presses
6/26/2008 Boston turnaround makes NBA green with envy
6/19/2008 Letters from the NBA finals
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 — 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 — 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 — 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 M’s 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
Hero’s 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