Tag Archives: Larry Bird

A Celtics Fan Confesses It’s Good Being Back On The Bandwagon!

14 Jun

Well, I’ve got to admit it.  I’m officially a bandwagon jumper.  The greatest NBA Finals comeback off all time got me back on the Celtic bandwagon after more than a decade away.  And the kicker is I really didn’t even see it!

I guess the first step in my re-dedication to the Boston Celtics took place when it became clear it was going to be a Celtics Lakers Finals this year.  Growing up during the time of Bird and Magic, I couldn’t help but be curious about this series.  I rooted for the Celtics’ then Big Three of Bird, McHale and Parrish way back when.  Still, there was no way I could hate Magic or Kareem not with the great brand of basketball they played.  Sure, I wanted the Celtics to beat the brains out of the Lakers every time they matched up against them, but I never actually hated LA.  To me, those were the best years of the NBA.

What of the Jordan years?  Good question!  No doubt Michael gave us lots of thrills over the years and it’s hard to argue against such excellence.  But, I have two problems with the Jordan era.

First, everybody is so busy anointing MJ as the greatest ever that they forget that Bird and Magic were pretty darn good too.  Magic played center in a Finals game as a rookie and scored something like  40 points.  The man could do it all at will with a smile on his face.  As for Bird, was anyone ever as competitive and as smart on the court while shooting, rebounding and passing so well?  It’s worth noting that Michael won exactly nothing when he faced Magic and Bird in their primes. 

For me, what made the Bird-Magic years so (yes I’m gonna say it..) MAGIC was that they were two once in a lifetime talents whose careers completely paralleled.  As fans, we were lucky to see two great players go against each other for years.  It gave us great basketball.  The problem with Jordan is his timing.  Michael never ran up against a worthy adversary in his career. (Remember how The Mailman failed to deliver for Utah?) Doesn’t mean that there couldn’t be anyone how’d give him a run for his money.  It’s just that it worked out that there was no Bird or Magic or Wilt in their prime when MJ came along.  Good for him.  Bad for us as fans.  Frankly, six championships is pretty boring unless of course you happen to be a Bulls fan.

My second problem with the Jordan years is Scottie Pippen.  If Michael is slightly overrated than I can’t even begin to describe how overrated Scottie Pippen is.  He made the Top 50 All Time NBA Team.  He’s a guy who never won anything without Michael.  He’s also a guy who refused to enter a playoff game because his coach dared to draw up a last minute play in which he wasn’t the guy taking the shot.  Yup, that sounds like one of the 50 greatest ever to lace ’em up in the NBA…

Anyway, back to me and the bandwagon.  I tuned in late in the first quarter to see that the Celtics were down by about twenty.  At that point, I shut the TV, chalked it up to being in LA and went back to being productive around the house.  Of course being a man, I can only be productive for so long and eventually I put the game back on.  It was early in the fourth and I was shocked to see the Celtics down by only two.  I was hooked.  I wanted to go to bed, but I just had to stick around to see if the Celtics could complete the greatest comeback ever.  You know how this ends.  They did.  I go to bed happy.  And the Celtic Bandwagon just got a little more crowded.

One great comeback in a marquee finals match up washed away the deaths of Len Bias and Reggie Lewis, Larry Bird’s bad back, and years and years of futility.  All of a sudden, I’m a Celtics fan again!  Beat LA!

I know.  I’m as surprised as you are.

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Why Great Players Shouldn’t Coach or GM! (AKA What Kind of Manger Would Donnie Baseball Be?)

26 Mar

Isiah Thomas, Ted Williams, Larry Bird, Kevin McHale…. Four great players off the top of my head who each made their sport’s hall of fame and then went on to lesser glory as coaches and GMs.  Let’s face it the record of superstar players as coaches and G.M.s is pretty bad.

Anyone remember Michael Jordan in Washington?? 

I once read someone theorizing that the reason great players can’t coach is due to a lack of empathy.  A great player, since he was great, just can’t relate to a player he coaches who isn’t great.  Yet, in team sports many times the less than great guys are the people who can make the biggest difference in how a team does in a season.

Superstars will always be superstars.  Coaching them is more about keeping their egos in check and keeping them hungry.  Coaching the rest of the team is probably more difficult for former superstars.  How do you keep motivating and teaching people who simply can’t do what came to you so easily as a superstar?  It’s got to be a frustrating thing…

Bart Starr, Pete Rose, I could go on…

But I want to get to Donnie Baseball.  Don Mattingly, who you may remember from your time on the Joe Torre Replacement Committee, almost got the Yankee job that ultimately went to Joe Girardi. 

There’s been a sense in the New York area that Don Mattingly would be one heck of a major league manager.  I’ve never understood that.  The man doesn’t seem to have the personality or drive for it.  Unfortunately, due to some personal issues he’s working on, he’s had to take a step back out in LA and has probably slowed his ascent to someday being some team’s skipper.

Mattingly had a very interesting and controversial career.  He actually never did anything controversial, but his career essentially was composed of two wildly different parts.  In the first part, the young Don Mattingly comes out of nowhere to become the best player in New York when many where busy proclaiming Darryl Strawberry “the Black Ted Williams”.  For half his career, Mattingly was Donnie Baseball.  He terrorized the American League.  Then, came the injuries…

The second half of Mattingly’s career was nothing like the first.  While he was still a class act and fan favorite, due to back problems, he was never able to be the offensive force he had been.  Mattingly, for the last half of his career, was a sort of light hitting first baseman with a great nickname.

The controversy comes from the debate over whether Mattingly deserves a spot in baseball’s Hall of Fame.  I won’t take a side here because I want to focus on Mattingly’s coaching potential.

He’s an interesting guy because he’s been on both sides of the baseball experience.  He’s been a superstar and he’s struggled.  I still don’t think he’s a verbal enough leader but there’s no question that he would have a clubhouse’s respect and he might just be able to relate to everyone on the team from superstar to scrub based on his own baseball experience.

Let’s hope he gets his personal issues resolved so that he gets the chance to show us what kind of a manger he can be. 

Donnie Baseball deserves that much.

PS – his other nickname THE HIT MAN was pretty cool too.

Sit Down For This…Knicks Finally Make a Smart Move!

26 Mar

Yes, the Knicks are finally about to make a smart move.  By my count it’s their second in the Dolan era.  The first was something about upgrading the catering at the Garden.

Donnie Walsh, the current head poo-bah of the Indiana Pacers, is rumored to be New York bound.  While Indiana has been in a steady state of decline since the Pacers decided to duke it out with the fans a few years back, Walsh’s overall record in Indiana over more than twenty years is more than solid.

 While Walsh never got the Pacers that championship, he came close.  They lost in the 2000 Finals to a Shaq/Kobe/Phil Laker squad, which isn’t exactly a dishonorable thing.  On top of that they had the best record in the NBA in 2004, got to six conference finals and won four division titles on Walsh’s watch.

The guy know what he’s doing.  He knows how to run a basketball team.  So, this has to be a good thing for the Knicks, right?

Dolan being Dolan, you have to figure he’ll find a way to screw it up.  My guess is that Isiah Thomas, who’s owed something like 21 million more dollars over the next three years, will get to stay on as coach.

Thomas got an extension for exactly what last year?  I’m pretty sure I too could have guided the Knicks to a non-playoff season while embarrassing them and costing them tons of money in an employee harassment suit.  Although, unlike Thomas, I’m so not sure I would have been able to commit so much money to losing ballplayers that I’d hamstring the Knicks financially for years.

Remind me again why Walsh wants to come to New York?  I’m guessing it’s bucks, the new challenge and friction with Larry Legend in Indiana.

Let’s just hope it’s all that Walsh expects and that Dolan will let him do his job even if it means costing Isiah his.