Bill Belichick and the New England Media

Around the country today, Bill Belichick is viewed as perhaps the best football mind in the game right now. His New England Patriots have won three out of the last four Super Bowl championships and have spawned a new wave of “Dynasty” talk, placing the team in the same echelon as the Packers of the 1960’s, Steelers of the 1970’s, 49ers of the 1980’s and Cowboys of the 1990’s. His teams play a smart, tough, efficient brand of football that is admired around the country, while at the same time the players for the most part are “character guys”, people who have avoided trouble off of the field.

You would think that with this organization in place, Belichick would be lauded nowhere more than in New England, where sports are taken as seriously as religion and politics. Curiously though, if you listen to some sports talk radio programs, or pick up newspaper articles by veteran NFL reporters, you’d think that Belichick was some sort of monster who mistreats people and is overseeing nothing more than a house of cards that is due to collapse at anytime. They constantly refer to his record in Cleveland, and most recently have started the chant that Belichick has won nothing without Tom Brady as his quarterback. You get the impression from these commentators that they would like nothing more than to see Belichick and the Patriots fail miserably.

On the other hand, you also have media members who go the completely opposite way in their treatment and coverage of the Patriots head man. In their eyes, he can do no wrong, every move is that of a genius and the mantra “In Belichick we trust” is their personal slogan. When a hot offense comes into town to face the Patriots, Bill Belichick will find a way to stop them. If there is a player out there on the scrap heap that no one else wants, Belichick will bring him in and make a player out of him. What has caused such polarization in the Boston sports media as regards this undeniably successful head coach?

When Bill Belichick resigned as “HC of the NYJ” after being appointed Bill Parcells’ successor, the Patriots didnt wait long to express their interest in him to take over their team. After some protracted negotiations with Parcells (a media favorite in New England) and the Jets, Patriots owner Bob Kraft eventually worked out a compensation package which allowed Belichick to take become the head coach of the team. Right around this time, certain media members started taking some shots at Belichick, likely because of his perceived disloyalty to the esteemed Parcells. Kevin Mannix of the Boston Herald infamously labeled Belichick “duplicitous pond scum” and a nighttime radio host on sports radio WEEI was also very vocal in his opposition to Belichick’s hiring, calling him “a despicable human being” (for which he later apologized). Michael Holley, then of the Globe, and a native of Ohio, also wrote a very negative article on the new coach. (Holley of course would later go on to write “Patriot Reign”)

Why the vitriol for someone who had just arrived in town? In addition to having crossed Parcells, who still can do no wrong in the eyes of many, there were still lingering stories among the media about Belichick’s tenure as head coach of the Cleveland Browns. The Cleveland media were only too happy to tell stories of Belichick as having been aloof, uncooperative and uncommunicative while having had to deal with him. To this day in fact, many of those Cleveland writers still sneer when his name is brought up. It would appear that many of the Boston writers were influenced by their Cleveland colleagues.

The Patriots went 5-11 in 2000, Belichick’s first year with the club, and while there was still a little grumbling about whether Belichick had the ability to be a successful head coach, for the most part things were pretty quiet. That spring, the team had used a sixth round draft pick on Michigan QB Tom Brady, who spent the season stashed away as the fourth quarterback, no one really paying much attention to him. After the 2001 draft, Belichick was criticized harshly by Globe writer Ron Borges for passing on receivers David Terrell and Koren Robinson in favor of defensive lineman Richard Seymour, sarcastically calling it a “genius move” in reference to Belichick’s reputation as a wizard with the playbook. He said that if you didn’t know better, “you’d think the Jets sent Bill Belichick north to destroy the Patriots from within.” The 2001 season started, and despite moving up to the backup position with a strong preseason showing, Brady seemed nothing more than a spare part behind the strongly entrenched Drew Bledsoe.

Drew Bledsoe had been the Patriots franchise quarterback since Parcells drafted him back in 1993. Over the course of his career, he was known for putting up big numbers, but also for making mistakes at the most crucial times. He was also known for standing in there?both in the pocket and in front of the press, where he always took full accountability for his miscues and faced the media without ducking the questions sent his way. This endeared him to some of the local media, who cultivated a strong relationship with him. Bledsoe was also very close to the Kraft family and was “in the loop” about many things going on “behind the scenes” with regard to the operations of the Patriots. He shared some of this information with some of the media members he was closest to. As a result, the media people always covered Bledsoe positively in their articles, even when he struggled, blaming it instead on his lack of weapons, or having had so many offensive coordinators over the years, or not having enough protection from his offensive line.

When Belichick took over, the “back channel” communications within the organization dried up. He insisted on being the voice of the Patriots, not allowing the press access to his assistant coaches, and limiting availability to his players, practice session and team executives. Even owner Bob Kraft, who had been out front and center in the past, now seemed to have disappeared. None of this pleased members of the press who had relied on these “sources” to compose their stories. The Patriots lost their first game of the season in Cincinnati and were on their way to defeat in the second game to the New York Jets when “it” happened.

Mo Lewis is held in some New England circles as a folk hero. It can be argued that the Jets linebacker’s massive hit on a scrambling Bledsoe in the fourth quarter of that game launched the Patriot dynasty. What is certain however is that the hit spelled the end of Drew Bledsoe’s tenure as the starter in New England, and also launched open season on Bill Belichick by certain members of the sporting press.

While Bledsoe was recovering from his internal injuries, which nearly cost him his life, Tom Brady stepped in and led the Patriots to a 5-2 record. There was considerable talk during this time on the radio, TV and in the papers about what would happen when Bledsoe was ready to return. While Bledsoe was out, some other things changed around the team. Bledsoe had always held his mid-week press conferences at a podium, where he was the focus, away from his teammates. Brady opted to hold his sessions at his locker, with his teammates around him in the room. Bledsoe talked during this time about when he recovered and got “his” job back. The medical staff declared Bledsoe fit to play, but on Monday, November 19, 2001, Belichick declared that Tom Brady was his starter for the “foreseeable future”.

This marked another very clear turning point in the relationship between Belichick and certain members of the press. By this time, many had taken their sides. They were either “Brady guys” or “Bledsoe guys.” Interestingly, many of the “Bledsoe guys” were the veteran reporters that had been around the team for some time. Guys like Ron Borges and Nick Cafardo of the Globe and Kevin Mannix of the Herald, men who had developed a strong relationship with the quarterback. The “Brady guys” were some of the younger, newer guys on the beat, such as Michael Felger of the Herald. The Bledsoe backers immediately cried foul at Belichick’s decision. Ron Borges wrote in the Boston Globe of November 22, 2001:

So the facts are simply these. He lied to Drew Bledsoe about what the competitive situation would be when the quarterback regained his health. There was no miscommunication. There was no misunderstanding. There was no hedging of the bet. He fibbed.

Whereas Borges had been somewhat critical, but at times supportive of Belichick up to this point, from that day until now, Borges has been on a seeming crusade to discredit everything the coach has done. Belichick had lied to his friend, Drew Bledsoe. Belichick had now crossed two of the media’s favorite people in Bledsoe and Parcells. Borges made numerous attacks of the coach and young quarterback for the remainder of the season. The Patriots made it all the way to the Super Bowl and as a show of his displeasure with the team, Borges in his pick for the game said that the Rams would win 73-0.

The Patriots of course won the Super Bowl, defeating the Rams in one of the most thrilling games in the history of the event. In the weeks following the win, Borges and cronies continued to try to discredit the victory and both Belichick and Tom Brady, saying that they only won by a field goal, and that Tom Brady?s winning drive was nothing special, as he didn’t even have to go half the field. Brady was dismissed as nothing more than a “system quarterback” who can only “throw sideways.”

That spring, Drew Bledsoe was traded to the Buffalo Bills. The critics had a field day on this one, criticizing Belichick for only getting one first round pick for the quarterback and worse, trading him within the same division. This they said, was the ultimate sign of Belichick’s arrogance, which would certainly come back to bite him. The Patriots went on to a 9-7 record in 2002, tying for the division lead and missing the playoffs by a tiebreaker. The critics were gloating. The Patriots were a one-year wonder. Brady was just a system quarterback. (Despite throwing for 28 TD’s and leading the league in that category) In addition, Bledsoe got off to a fast start in Buffalo, which just fueled the fire of the skeptics.

The following season, the Patriots signed safety Rodney Harrison in the offseason, and people wondered where they would play him, as they already had a top player at that position in Lawyer Milloy. The week before the Patriots regular season opener in Buffalo against Bledsoe and the Bills, Belichick announced that the team had released Milloy after failing to come to a contract adjustment. The critics were all over this. Kevin Mannix led off his column the next day in the Herald thusly:

Bill Belichick is pond scum again. Arrogant, megalomaniacal, duplicitous pond scum.

It was again open season on the Patriots coach. To top matters off, Milloy went off and immediately signed with the Bills, who then trounced the Patriots in the season opener, 31-0. ESPN analyst Tom Jackson made his infamous remark that the Patriots “hate their coach.”

Not much has gone wrong for the Patriots since that day, as they have only lost three games since and have won consecutive Super Bowl Championships. Yet the bashing and shots at Belichick continue. The Globe writers have written repeatedly about Belichick’s policies of not allowing his assistants to speak to the media, arguing that hindered their ability to get head coaching jobs. Yet this season, both of Belichick’s coordinators were hired as head coaches, Charlie Weis at Notre Dame and Romeo Crennel with the Cleveland Browns. Now that those two are gone, the critics question how Belichick will do without them. They still constantly bring up Belichick’s tenure in Cleveland, even recalling negative events from that period to use today, such as a piece that ran in the Sunday Globe this spring that brought up a time that Belichick supposedly scolded now-Dolphins coach, then Browns assistant Nick Saban for something he said to the media. We’re also reminded that the Patriots have won three Super Bowls by the margin of a field goal. As if that should somehow take away from the achievement.

It seemed like for a while there were weekly reminders in the some articles that Belichick’s career record was right around .500. The last two seasons have quieted that particular item, but the newest one that is heard daily on the Eddie Andelman show now is that Belichick has never won without Tom Brady, and that his record without Brady is 16 games under .500. I can tell you that right off the top of my head because it has been repeated so many times on that radio show. Of course, the irony here is that these are the same people (i.e. Borges) who were calling Brady a “system quarterback” a couple years ago and saying the team made a huge mistake in trading Bledsoe. Now he, not Belichick is the one most responsible for the success of the franchise. He is also accused of mistreating and underpaying his stars and heartlessly cutting players who have meant a lot to the franchise. This is an attempt to appeal to the emotions of the fans, who have attachments to the players. In reality, Belichick has yet to release a player who has gone on to really burn him. Most of the time, his assessments have been dead on, and the team’s salary cap has benefited as a result. Yet to writers such as Nick Cafardo, who pride themselves on getting close to players and agents in the game, the Patriots business-like manner of approaching things is distasteful. They would rather see “their guys” get taken care of. It seems like they have no concept of the salary cap.

It certainly seems curious that such a successful coach who seems to do things the “right way” would come under such constant negative scrutiny and criticism from certain people. Why do these people continue? At times they seem like the Black Knight from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” They have had all their arguments cut out from underneath them, yet they continue to stubbornly refuse to retreat. It can be traced back to a few things already mentioned. First, Belichick crossed their darlings, Bledsoe and Parcells. Secondly, they’ve gone this far in their stance, its too late to change now?besides they get attention they seem to crave so desperately by being “different” and standing out from the Belichick admiration. Third, Belichick has proven them wrong time after time, made them look foolish. For them this is enough reason to hate the man. Fourth, he doesn’t make their job easy. He doesn’t feed them “she” quotes and fill up their notebooks with glib quotes. Access is limited to his coaches, practices and team. The media is forced to do some work to get their stories. Some reporters thrive with this, (see Reiss, Mike) while others chafe and choose to complain instead. Fifth, things change in the NFL, this we know. At some point, the Patriots are likely to have a down year, or heaven forbid, suffer a key injury to someone they cannot afford to lose (Brady) or just get beaten by a superior team on a given day. When that day comes, you can be sure that the critics will be there, declaring that they were right all along. Bill Belichick is merely overseeing a house of cards up here in New England.

Miller Time in Sam Adams’ town

A pair of ugly losses for the locals last night, one obviously more crushing than the other. There are NFL draft leftovers, and some Comcast HD talk today.

The Indiana Pacers came out of the gate on fire, knocking down threes from everywhere. The Celtics hung tough, and eventually took the lead. In the third quarter, the Celtics seemed to take control, and seemingly had the game in hand as the last five minutes approached. Then in a stunning turn of the events, they coughed up the game, unable to execute down the stretch. On the other hand, Shira Springer looks at the Pacers making the plays when they needed to. Steve Bulpett says this was not the same Celtics team we saw in game one. Carolyn Thornton looks at the Pacers turning the tables on the Celtics. Lenny Megliola and Jeff Goldberg also chip with stories on the game, with Goldberg looking at the play of the wily Reggie Miller, who says the Boston crowd was “child’s play” compared to New York and Philly. Christopher Price says timing is everything, and the Celtics didn’t have it last night. Jackie MacMullan writes that after game one, you knew the Pacers would come to play in this one, and suddenly the Celtics are in trouble. Howard Bryant (subscription only) and Bill Reynolds each look at Miller, who got worked up thanks to the crowd and the taunting of young Celtics like Tony Allen. Michael Vega looks at Miller’s role in slowing down the tempo of the game to the Pacers’ liking. Mark Murphy looks at a bruised Ricky Davis after a night of chasing Miller through borderline illegal screens.

Peter May looks at the man who “summarily destroyed” the hopes and dreams of the Pacers this season…not Ron Artest, but David Stern. Um, Peter, Artest and the Pacers made their own bed this season. Don’t blame the commissioner. Murphy also has a look at Stern holding his ground when it comes to the Pacers. Vega looks at Jermaine O’Neal playing through obvious pain last night. Fluto Shinzawa looks at Pacers point guard Anthony Johnson, one the crew who spearheaded the comeback in the final minutes for Indiana. Michael O’Connor has Paul Pierce saying that the Celtics just need to clean a few things up to rebound in the series. May also has a look at rough nights for Raef and Ricky. In the notebooks, Springer’s notebook looks at Danny Ainge keeping a low profile recently. Bulpett’s notebook looks at the quiet night for Raef LaFrentz and also has the Larry Bird/Antoine Walker mutual admiration society. Thornton’s notebook looks at rookie Al Jefferson’s decline in minutes last night, the young forward did not even play in the second half. Tim Weisberg also files a game recap and notebook from last night.

After shutting out the Orioles in a pair of games last week in Baltimore, the Red Sox gave up eight runs to the birds last night. David Wells struggled and left the game after 3 2/3 innings with a sprained foot, having given up six runs. Chris Snow looks at a rough night all around for the Sox. Michael Silverman has more on the loss. Kevin McNamara says that the night added injury to insult for the Sox. Tom Yantz says that Wells fell well short of being the first Red Sox pitcher since Roger Clemens to throw three straight shutouts. Garry Brown and Andy Vogt wrap up the game summaries. Alex Speier and Joe Haggerty have more on the game, but focus on the injury to Wells. Tony Massarotti looks at the continued rough start to David Wells’ Red Sox career.

Jon Couture looks at the Orioles “O” finally waking up against the Red Sox. Jeff Horrigan looks at Red Sox short timer Bruce Chen shutting down his former team last night. Paul Harber also looks at Chen. Paul Kenyon looks at Kevin Millar giving Manny a break in the outfield. Brown also has an article on Millar going to left field for the evening. Johnny Damon was on base five times last night. Steve Conroy looks at the Red Sox centerfielder. Wells wasn’t the only Red Sox pitcher to leave the game with a foot injury. Matt Mantei suffered a sprained ankle in the seventh inning. Conroy also has an update on pitcher Wade Miller, who will be starting for Pawtucket. Snow’s notebook has word of a small fine for Terry Francona for his criticism of umpire Greg Gibson. Silverman’s notebook looks at Millar, Ramirez and Ortiz switching positions last night. The Projo notebook has more on Miller. Yantz’ notebook looks at Jason Varitek, who provided one of the few highlights for the Red Sox. Brown’s notebook looks at a slow recovery from the flu for Bill Mueller.

Kevin Paul Dupont and Steve Buckley (subscription only) remember former Red Sox pitcher Earl Wilson, who died at the age of 70 over the weekend. Dupont talks to Frank Malzone and Johnny Pesky about Wilson, who pitched a no-hitter at Fenway in 1962. Buckley’s article focuses more on Wilson’s role in fighting racism in Boston, as he was the second African-American to suit up for the Red Sox, but receive little support from the organization, which traded him in 1966 a few weeks after he spoke out about not being served at a bar during spring training because of his race.

Jerome Solomon and Michael Felger report on the Patriots hosting free agent linebacker Chad Brown at Gillette. Solomon’s piece also has word that cornerback Aaron Glenn of the Texans has the Patriots on the short list of teams he’d like to be traded to. (Although it appears he could be heading to the Cowboys.) Michael Parente says that the Patriots filled needs with their draft picks. Eric McHugh wonders if linebacker Ryan Claridge could be the Patriots latest second day draft find. Bill Burt and Lenny Megliola look at first round pick Logan Mankins, while Felger looks at both offensive linemen picked by the Patriots. Hector Longo takes an overall look at the draft and future of the Patriots. Mike Reiss’ blog entry from yesterday fills in a few tidbits leftover from the draft. Zach Lowe has look at Bill Belichick’s appearance at a March of Dime fundraiser in Connecticut. A couple amusing anecdotes in that account.

Bill Griffith looks at the new DVD Three Games to Glory III, which according to Griffith, takes things to a new level.

Word is that you should have TNT-HD on Comcast channel 833 today. Comcast, high priced as it may be, deserves some credit for its continued rollouts of the HD tier in time for sports fans to enjoy the High Definition experience. They added UPN38-HD in time for the Red Sox opener, and we should now have TNT-HD to enjoy the NBA playoffs on. One note of complaint however, in nights like last night when both the Red Sox and Celtics are playing in games that are available on HD, it seems you only get one…whichever game they deem more important. It’d be nice if they could use 881 along with 882 to show both games. I understand bandwidth and contractual obligations may play a role, but I’d like to be able to see both my teams in HD at the same time. Now that TNT is going to be available, perhaps that might solve the issue for the remainder of the playoffs anyhow. However, Comcast does lose points for yanking NBATV. (As mentioned by Ryen Russillo and Anthony Pepe yesterday on WWZN) I think they did it to fit in bandwidth for TNT-HD, but for subscribers to lose something they paid extra for doesn’t seem quite right.

NESN has Red Sox/Orioles at 7:00. TNT has Nets/Heat at 8:00 and Kings/Sonics at 10:30.

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Brawl, Draft and Playoff

An extremely busy Monday has the Red Sox brawling in Tampa, the Patriots drafting for aggressiveness and the Celtics preparing to take on the Pacers tonight in game two of their playoff series. Bobby Orr also speaks out on the sad state of the NHL.

The Red Sox and Devil Rays concluded their three game series in Tampa this weekend, and after dropping the first two games of the series, the Sox were not about to be swept. They weren’t. The Red Sox win 11-3 in a wild game that included a beanball war and the benches being emptied. Nick Cafardo, Jeff Horrigan, Steven Krasner, David Heuschkel and David Borges have the game stories from a wild afternoon in Tampa. Gordon Edes looks at Trot Nixon, who despite not being one of the players hit by a pitch over the weekend, was front and center in the brawl that ensued yesterday. Michael Gee says that try as he might, Bronson Arroyo can’t hide the purpose of his final pitch of the afternoon. John Tomase salutes Tim Wakefield for being rarity in professional sports…in many aspects. Ron Chimelis wonders if Joe Torre’s job could be in danger in NY. Cafardo’s notebook says that Jay Payton should be just fine as a fill in for Trot Nixon should Nixon be suspended for his actions yesterday. Payton’s grand slam replacing Nixon after his ejection showed that. Horrigan’s notebook has David Ortiz placing the blame on Lou Piniella for yesterday’s events. Krasner’s notebook has more on Nixon’s ejection. Heuschkel’s notebook says that Nixon and Arroyo probably will face suspensions for their actions. Borges’ notebook says there has been bad blood between these clubs for some time.

The NFL draft wrapped up yesterday afternoon and Kevin Mannix hates the Patriots high picks, specifically Offensive Lineman Logan Mankins. This isn’t really a surprise here, as Mannix seemingly every year trashes the Patriots draft. He did so most notably in 2003, and that draft was one of the best the team has ever had. Mannix today says the Patriots did merely ok in the later rounds…

But that didn't make up for the fact that the Pats bollixed up that first pick like amateurs.

I wonder how much time Mannix actually spent on the draft…what preparation did he do? I’m guessing very little. He relies on the scouting reports of others. It’s a tried and true strategy to pan a draft. In the past, no one would dig it up and throw your predictions back at you. If the picks did turn out to be busts, you could then thrust your chest out, thump it, and say “I told you so!” Whereas if the picks turn out to be good, then the fans are happy, and no one notices, or cares, that you nastily panned the selection in the first place. It’s even easier when the pick is at the end of the first round, and is an offensive lineman, who might take some time to develop. I’m guessing Mannix is playing the odds, throwing stuff out there, and hoping it sticks. It’s his custom when it comes to the draft, and he also has the habit of coming out with a March column declaring that the Patriots have fallen behind in free agency. It’s a tradition. Not to toot the BSMW Draft Central horn too much, but they had Mankins rated as the top guard in the draft for the Patriots system. Ron Borges seems to think that the Patriots did pretty well for themselves, observing

The defending champions had needs at linebacker and in the secondary, but coach Bill Belichick refused to reach and ended up with what appears to be a two-day haul of the kind of players who have made his team a dynasty for the New Millennium -- versatile ones who give him flexibility.

Borges also looks at how the other AFC East clubs did for themselves. Michael Felger writes that the Patriots thought that this was a weak draft, and so they loaded up on aggressiveness and intangibles. Tom E Curran looks at the Patriots going with players from smaller programs and conferences. Alan Greenberg says that the Patriots didn’t go sexy in the draft, they just made solid picks to fill holes. Mike Reiss says that this draft was worked with an eye for the future, as the Patriots filled some holes, but also acquired some picks for next year. Ian M Clark looks at the Patriots draft, and also notes that the team was looking to the future. Christopher Price has a good look at Mankins.

Curran says that because of their track record, even the experts can’t really second guess the Patriots, using Mel Kiper Jr as an example. By the way, does Kiper think Mankins was a reach, or not? In his final draft wrapup, Kiper says

Guard Logan Mankins was a reach in the first round but the Patriots obviously like his size and nastiness, and he will help fill the void left by Joe Andruzzi's departure via free agency.

but on his Saturday first round wrapup, Kiper says

I thought Mankins would be a second-rounder, because he missed the entire 2003 season due to a knee injury, but he is a good player and this is not a reach

Which is it? (Those were both from ESPN Insider articles) Dan Pires says the Patriots just keep everyone guessing with their methods, and notes the apparent opening of a new college pipeline to replace LSU, now it’s Fresno State. Jerome Solomon looks at fourth round pick James Sanders. Chris Kennedy looks at the Patriots seventh round picks, which included a backup QB from USC and a tight end from a school no one has probably ever heard of before. Rich Thompson has more on that Tight End, “Mr Irrelevant” Andy Stokes from William Penn College in Oskaloosa, Iowa. He also looks at some of the other picks. Fluto Shinzawa and John Connolly look at Harvard QB Ryan Fitzpatrick getting picked by the Rams in the seventh round. George Kimball (subscription only) writes about Tedy Bruschi, no one around the Patriots will still make any comment or speculation on his future, but Kimball does, saying

In the most likely scenario, he will eventually announce that he's going to sit out this season while he makes up his mind, collect $2 million for passing Go, and, eventually, officially announce his retirement.

Solomon’s notebook says the Patriots were swapping picks left and right this weekend. Felger’s notebook says that recently released Seahawks linebacker Chad Brown could be a fit for the Patriots. Curran’s notebook has more on the Fresno State pipeline.

You can’t go wrong with a Larry Bird column. Dan Shaughnessy talks to the Legend about Boston, competing against the Celtics, how Larry’s favorite baseball player is Manny Ramirez, and many other topics. Great stuff. Steve Bulpett says that the Celtics need to keep the same up-tempo game going in tonight’s game two that they had Saturday night. Shira Springer says that the Celtics must stay focused and not get overconfident after their big win in game one. Michael Vega and Mark Murphy look at the Pacers as they prepare to come back in game two tonight. Peter May and Howard Bryant (subscription only) each have articles on Marcus Banks, who was a difference maker in the game one victory, provided full court pressure and a spark off the bench. Carolyn Thornton also has a look at the second year guard. Springer’s notebook Springer’s notebook has Doc Rivers being a little pick-y over some non-calls. Bulpett’s notebook says that the Celtics veterans are preaching caution after the game one blowout. Vega’s notebook says that the Pacers are already battling a steep history stat after just one game. Murphy’s notebook has Bird confident that Rick Carlisle will make the needed adjustments tonight.

Yesterday’s Lawrence Eagle-Tribune had a guest column from Bruin’s legend Bobby Orr, who spoke out about NHL work stoppage and what needs to get done.

Yesterday’s Globe had a story from Joshua Glenn on the “50 most loathsome Bostonians” on the list were Gerry Callahan, Curt Schilling, Johnny Damon and Jimmy Fallon, and in the top 20 there was a Globe Sportswriter who Glenn refused to name because of “space constraints, as well as a disinclination on my part to reveal the identities of those nominees I have to work with”. Give me a break.

FSN has Celtics/Pacers at 7:00 (TNT Nationally) TNT has Rockets/Mavericks at 9:30. Word is that Comcast will be adding TNT-HD in the Boston area sometime tomorrow on channel 833 in time for the rest of the NBA playoffs. NESN has Red Sox/Orioles at 7:00. ESPN has Braves/Mets at 7:00.