LONGSHOTS: This and that as the curtain goes up on other stuff besides football
by Dave Long
My sports clock works a little differently than most, I suspect. For instance, forget opening day and the renewal of spring thing that gets most jacked and pumped for baseball — for me, I need the warm weather, so the season doesn’t really get started for me until May 15. It’s like that for college basketball and even the NBA, which I watch in the first half of the year but which really kicks in for me after the Super Bowl. And while I know things aren’t exactly going great for the local club as I come online, here’s a bunch of stuff that has been floating around for me waiting to get out upon the end of football.
Don’t want to tell you I told you so, but here’s what I said about the Rasheed Wallace acquisition in the season preview column for the Celtics:
“The Sheed Factor: The addition of Rasheed Wallace has pretty much been greeted with universal approval — though not by me. I agree: what he’s been through most of his career is EXACTLY what they needed last year — length, a shot-blocking presence and floor-stretching three-point range. BUT — will he bring that every night at 35, or at least at playoff time? If yes, it’s a great signing, but I do know both Big Baby and Leon Powe outplayed Wallace almost every time they faced the Pistons the last two years when he looked uninterested. So he’ll to have to prove it to me.”
Of course I also said that coming-of-age Atlanta was athletic but overrated. So I missed on the team that has already ready beaten the Celtics four straight.
Here’s my question: this is a tough one for me, but who do/did you hate seeing setting up to take a three — Antoine Walker back in the day or Sheed these days?
If you really want to know how sick Red Sox mania is around here, just check out Truck Day at Fenway Park, which was a major media event with a corporate sponsor and had Wally the Green Monster directing traffic like a third-base coach.
And as a side note, hopefully for public safety Wally had a better aptitude for telling them what to go and when to stop than wave-’em-in Wendell Kim did during his days at Fenway.
I’m not picking on Kobe Bryant here — because I think he’s a great player — but at the moment, despite what the above-the-Tarrier-Liners seem to think is given, it’s possible he’s not even a starter on the Lakers all-time team yet! Magic’s got one spot in the backcourt and the other is between Kobe and Jerry West. The latter was a 14-time all-star and the only guy named MVP of the playoffs from the losing team and who Kobe just passed the other day on the all-time scoring list. Plus he averaged over 30 a game four times in the regular season, seven times in the playoffs, including 40.6 over 11 games in 1965 and 29.1 lifetime in the playoffs. And that’s just partly why they called him Mr. Clutch.
And if you think the competition is rough at guard for the Lakers, how about at center, where they have Wilt, Shaq, Kareem and the fellow voted the greatest basketball player of the first half of the 20th century, George Mikan, to choose from. Who’s your pick?
If you’re reading this and the Celtics have not made a deal for Ray Allen, Danny Ainge either thinks that they can still win it all despite going just 9 and 13 in 22 games leading the All-Star break or he’s made a big mistake. I agree you have to go for it — but they can not afford to give up Ray’s expiring contract at year’s end and get nothing back. If they do, they’re over the cap and thus unable to find a replacement in free agency next summer. So even if it’s not a good deal, if they get something that can be flipped for other parts in the off-season they’ll be better off than standing pat.
And, oh by the way, if you made that deal, who says you can’t bring Ray back next year to come off the bench as a free agent?
With the injuries to the big fellow and leg bandages on Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and even Rajon Rondo, I’m reminded of the end of the Russell era in 1969. That year an aging Russell averaged just 9.9 points a game and they barely squeaked into the playoffs after going just 48-34. Old-timers with a basketball IQ over 120 will tell you they didn’t have home court in any series as they beat the 76ers, Knicks and Lakers on mostly guile and toughness to win Russell’s 11th title. Here’s a YouTube video link — see for yourself. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1U_joRPqWts&NR=1
And, oh, by the way, Russell still had enough left in the tank to block 12 shots in the first game of the playoffs that year against the 76ers.
It may be me — nuts — but I think former UMass-Lowell coach Stan Van Gundy wears the EXACT same sport coat and buttoned-all-the-way-to-the-top black shirt EVERY time the Magic play the Celtics.
I expect Kevin Durant to move into the Kobe-Lebron stratum by next year. Although since he’s leading the league in scoring at 29 a game, he may already be there. And he’s only 21! The guy is going to be great.
Love Marv Albert on TNT with the blond highlights in his wig. But he was the Theo Epstein of New York broadcasting back in the day, when he was doing the Knicks and Rangers starting at 23. That was 1965 — for the mathematically challenged, that’s 43 years ago — which means he’s pushing 70. I’m graying now and a lot younger than he is, so I ain’t buyer the surfer dude look as all natural. Though to quote Seinfeld, “not that there’s anything wrong with it.”
The way the Celtics have coughed up leads in the fourth quarter this year, I’m surprised people haven’t yet taken to calling them the Patriots of the NBA.
Here’s my prediction on Adrian Beltre, who hit just eight home runs last year with Seattle. I’m betting he does what Mike Lowell did after he came from Florida with Josh Beckett, where he hit eight before jumping up 20 and then 21 the next two years in the shadow of The Wall at Fenway.
Having said that, it’s still pretty shabby the way they’ve treated Lowell, who was clutch and always played hard and while injured during the last four years in Boston.
Speaking of Beckett, I’m betting this is his last year in Boston. They’ll wait too long to get the deal done and he’ll walk as a result.
Dave Long can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He hosts Dave Long and Company from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. each Saturday on WGAM – The Game, 1250-AM Manchester, 900-AM Nashua.