LONGSHOTS: The Cís saw something most didnít prior to current playoff run
by Dave Long
I didnít think they could do it.
And Iím not sure I like the precedent, since I spent the year pretty much turned off by the lack of overall effort. But, somehow the Celtics were able to flip the switch, as they said they would, to become a reliable and dominant basketball team again after going 27 and 27 down the stretch. I pretty much wrote them off, save for one comment: the only thing that made me wonder that they might not be done is how can they have the best road record in the league and be a bad team? That was my one optimistic thought going down the stretch. But now that they appear to be contenders again, I have quite a few more.
First and foremost, Danny deserves a pat on the back. He was just about the only one I can think of who didnít think he should trade Ray Allen at the trading deadline to get something for the asset that is free to move on at the end of the year. Rayís been great and a key in the run so Iíll say it: he was right and I was wrong.
Would somebody PLEASE tell Kendrick Perkins that you canít move your body into the guy when youíre setting a pick as your guy is going by! Maybe itís just me, but he seems like he gets two moving pick fouls a game.
There is no disrespect meant to Magic coach Stan Van Gundy, who is a fine NBA coach. But he was not a better coach than either Keith Dickson or Stan Spirou when he faced them while at UMass-Lowell. It says to me that there are a lot of guys out there who could coach in the NBA.
And by the way, have you ever seen two brothers who look less alike and still have the same mother and father as Magic coach and his ABC broadcaster Jeff Van Gundy?
Iím starting to think if I were choosing up sides on the school yard and had my choice of the first pick, or getting the second and third guy, Iíd pass on Lebron and take Dwight Howard at number two and Rajon Rondo with the third pick. I know, Iím taking two guys who canít shoot foul shots.
I bet I can teach Dwight Howard how to shoot his free throws better. Iíd get film of Don Nelson doing his shot put imitation at the foul line. Looks dumb, but it works ó Iíve tried it.
And I still donít get how the truly great long-range shooter Rick Barry shot them underhand at the line.
For the record: exactly zero of ESPNís panel of alleged ďexpertsĒ picked the Celtics to beat the Cavs. You would think that at least one of their 10 alleged ďexpertsĒ would get it right, wouldnít you? Eight in that same panel took the Magic over the Cís with Chris Brousard and Tim Legler the only two who picked Boston. Laker and Kobe suck-up A.J. Adande took the Magic in five.
You want to know how important the regular season is? Does anyone NOW remember the Celtics losing to the Nets on a Saturday afternoon in March?
How do you think the Celtics would look today if theyíd gotten that first pick a few years ago and taken Kevin Durant? Iím guessing Paul Pierce would have been traded and their Big 3 would be Durant, Rajon Rondo and Al Jefferson plus whatever theyíd gotten for Pierce. Thatís a pretty good start.
Of course they wouldnít have Big Baby because the second-round pick they used to get him came in the Allen deal that wouldnít have happened.
I canít believe the attention everybody is giving where Lebron is going to land in free agency. Maybe itís me, but outside of Cleveland, whose franchise value could drop by $100 million, is it that big a deal? He is going to the new place with exactly zero notches on his title belt ó isnít that right?
Itís not the first time a sportís best player has been traded or moved on. Wayne Gretzky left Edmonton for L.A. and they never won anything. Kareem left Milwaukee for the Lakers and they did win five times ó but they didnít get any until Magic showed up four years later. Shaq did get L.A. three after leaving Orlando, but he needed Kobe before he got them. And how many did MJ win in Washington?
Having said all this ó it means itís about the bucks and not about winning if he goes to the Knicks. The best shot to win is with the Bulls. But if youíre the Bulls, are you going to let him pick his own coach as the rumors say he wants to in the person of John Calipari?
Todayís reminder that the clock is ticking faster is that Sunday was the 30th anniversary of Magic moving to center after Jabbar went down with a sprain in Game 5 of the 1980 finals and went for 42, 15 and 7 as L.A. closed out Dr. J and the 76ers in six. Heís the third-best all-time behind Russell and Jordan. Sorry, Larry.
And I forgot Jamal Wilkes had 38 in that one. But at least I remember how good he was.
Want to know why those Lakers teams were so good in the 1980s? One of their teams had FOUR guys who were taken first overall in the entire draft. Can you name them? And no, it wasnít Bob McAdoo ó he was the second overall pick by the Buffalo Braves coming out of North Carolina.
And if youíre an old-timer and want to win an argument over who got more out of his players, Bobby Knight or Dean Smith, use McAdoo, Walter Davis, Sam Perkins, Jordan and a million others who played under Dean and then went on to be NBA stars as examples, compared to just one player, Isiah Thomas, who left Indiana and became an NBA star.
Everybody talks about how important it is to win your round quickly to get more rest, but how many times have you seen that team come out rusty in the first game and lose as the Magic did on Sunday?
How come the NHL always seems to have big upsets and series like the 7-8 seed Philly vs. Montreal and the NBA never has major upsets like that?
The four Lakers who played together on one team came in 1986-87 and were the top overall pick in an NBA draft were Jabbar (í69), Magic (í79), James Worthy (í82) and Mychal Thompson ó who went first to Portland in 1978 after playing with Kevin McHale at Minnesota. And believe it or not, when third overall pick McHale and Thompson played together, not only didnít they make the NCAA tournament, but they only came in second in the NIT!
Can you say ďWeíre number 64!Ē?
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.