Bird’s Rookie Year – Game 21 vs. the Knicks

Celtics (16-4) vs. Knicks (11-12)
Friday, November 30
Boston Garden

The Celtics entered the final game of the month filled with hope and optimism.  After enduring a 4-10 November in 1978-79 and a 6-7 record in ’77-’78, the C’s looked to end the month strongly.  One of their losses included a one-point set-back at the Spectrum in Philadelphia (where the Sixers were currently in the midst of extending their five-game winning streak over the Bill Walton-less San Diego Clippers, though Joe “Jellybean” Bryant — known nowadays as the father of Kobe Bryant — scored 14 points in the loss), but the other was a defeat at the hands of the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.  The Celtics allowed an outrageous 18 assists and 22 points to Mike Richardson, while also unable to defend Ray Williams, who dropped 35 points off 12-of-20 shooting back in NYC, but avenged the loss with a 100-97 victory on Causeway Street to polish off the month of November at a 10-2 clip. [Read more...]

Rajon Rondo, The Worst Human Being On The Planet, Or Not?

If you’ve had the unfortunate experience of listening to any sports radio the last few days you now know that Rajon Rondo is a punk, a terrible human being, and essentially responsible for anything bad that may have happened since he’s been alive.

People like Michael Felger, Tony Massarotti, John Dennis and Gerry Callahan hate Rajon Rondo. They call him names, question his motives for passing the ball to his teammates, field calls from lunatics who insist that Rondo yells at his teammates for getting rebounds HE wanted to get so he could pad his stat line (and agree with those callers) and makes statements that if Rondo is the leader of your team, you’re in big trouble.

These people don’t realize that Rajon Rondo is the closest thing the Celtics have ever had to Larry Bird, both in skill and temperament. Rondo is clearly not the shooter Bird was, but his all-around game and ability to see the floor and diagnose the action around him has not seen around these parts since Bird retired. Bird got into scuffles on and off the court, and cost his team at times. A bar fight, in the playoffs? I can’t even imagine the outcry if that happened now.

The fearsome foursome listed above don’t watch a whole lot of the Celtics. Gerry Callahan used to know the game pretty well, but he is now too busy working up his whiny indignation over the Patriots poor sportsmanship to actually digest what’s happening in the game. Michael Felger openly hates the Celtics, and unabashedly trashes them incessantly. Tony Massarotti goes along with anything Felger says, and adds in his own unintelligible, angry rantings to Felger’s amusement. You’ve got Donny Marshall on the CSNNE telecasts taking shots at Rondo, and realize that this guy was very close to Ray Allen, and the whole picture there suddenly becomes clearer.

To them, Rondo is an easy target. People who don’t follow the sport knowledgeably agree with their surface assessments. Rondo is surly. He loses control of his tempter. He can’t shoot very well. Sometimes his intensity isn’t as high as it is at other times. They somehow take his recent streak of double-digit assist games and make it in to a selfish thing, as if it is even possible to selfishly pass the ball to a teammate so they can score. It is typical of sports radio in the this era, and it is terrible.

As with most topics however, they’re off base. I’ve had my moments of frustration with Rondo, even at one point declaring myself “done” with him. I’ve changed my opinion, mostly because I’ve learned more about him and what he does with his teammates behind the scenes, and his ridiculous ability to show up in big games and completely outshine the likes of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

Here’s an example.

An inside look at Rondo: To play with him is to know him – Read this Jessica Camerato feature and contrast it with what you’re told on sports radio all week. Is it even the same guy?

A guy like Christopher L. Gasper clearly only sees the surface. He’s not looking into the backstory stuff like in the Camerato piece. To him, and many others, leadership is only on the court. It’s what they can see. What he’s doing on the court, and most important of all – how he interacts with the media.

The Celtics have a lot of issues right now. Rondo is pretty low on the list, if he is there at all.

Get all the Celtics coverage at CelticsLinks.com.

The Patriots will visit South Florida this weekend for a game with the surprisingly tough Miami Dolphins. Bill Belichick gave as detailed a scouting report on the Dolphins as you’ll read this week – unasked – and it hardly even warranted a mention around here. They notice in Miami though – Belichick breaks down Fins personnel.

This game has been officially designated as a Trap Game. It’s also a Hat and T-Shirt game, as with a win, the Patriots can wrap up the AFC East on the 2nd of December. So which is it?

Debunking myths: Why Patriots won’t be trapped by Miami – Christopher Price isn’t buying the trap game tag, and a few other things about this one.

“It’s great and all that the Patriotsdefense keeps getting turnovers, but you can’t expect to get those every week. If they ever run into a good quarterback, they’re doomed! I know they won, but did you see how many yards (blank) threw for against them last week?! We’re screwed!”

Matt Chatham successfully captures the thinking and cries of the sky-is-falling crowd, and looks at the real important stat – the lack of turnovers by the Patriots offense.

Dont’a Hightower fits in on defense – Jeff Howe has the rookie linebacker already acting like a veteran leader.

Get all the Patriots coverage at PatriotsLinks.com.

MEDIA

Broadcasters found their voices at BC – Chad Finn talks with a number of well-known national broadcasters who got started together at WZBC in the late 80’s and early 90’s.

Boston’s Most Cerebral Football Columnist – Alan Segal has a Q&A with Greg A Bedard, who explains his approach to covering the Patriots and NFL.

Media Roundup – My SB Nation media column isn’t up quite yet, but when they do publish it, it will be a look at coverage of baseball’s winter meetings which start on Sunday, and how they’ve evolved into an event worthy of 24/7 coverage.

Correction On Ron Borges

Yesterday, I wrote that Mr. Ron Borges ate dinner at Drew Bledsoe’s house, based on this tweet from Bledsoe:

This claim has since been clarified by Bledsoe:

 

So Mr. Borges didn’t in fact actually eat at Bledsoe’s house. He flew out to the Northwest to visit Bledsoe, but they actually dined in a restaurant.

Our apologies to Mr. Borges. BSMW regrets the error.

Now that we have that out of the way…

Of course, their own words indicates that they had/have a close relationship, and that was the ultimate point all along. I’m also sure that there is no chance that Mr. Borges contacted Bledsoe yesterday and asked him as a favor to change the Tweet.

Mr. Borges can split hairs all he likes (although there are media members – multiple – who INSIST that Mr. Borges was a dinner guest at Bledsoe’s home here years ago) while attempting to muddy the waters, but the larger point remains.

Yes, this is tiresome to go over again, but since Mr. Borges insists on trying to cloud the issue, it needs to be run through again.

That larger point is that Mr. Borges had a close personal relationship with Drew Bledsoe and that when Bill Belichick made the decision to stick with Tom Brady during the 2001 season, after Bledsoe was of the thinking that he would be given the chance to win his job back, Mr. Borges immediately went on the attack against Belichick, and hasn’t stopped since.

Mr. Borges has admitted publicly in the past that he advised Bledsoe on how to confront Belichick on the matter.

From Bledsoe Turned to Borges for Advice…

Michael Felger: How did Belichick lie? What did he say to Drew?
Mr. Borges: What Bledsoe said to him at the original meeting, when he was cleared to practice, and I know this firsthand, for a lot of reasons,
Felger: Why…you were sitting there on the couch?
Mr. Borges: I PREPARED THE GUY TO GO MEET HIM! Quite frankly!

Mr. Borges in the 11/22/2001 Boston Globe:

Why did the normally placid Bledsoe react so angrily this week after Belichick’s announcement that Brady was the starter for the remainder of the season “barring something unforeseen”? Bledsoe’s point of view is reflected in the comments of one source who has personal knowledge of Bledsoe’s thinking on the matter. That person said that Belichick looked Bledsoe “right in the face” and told him he’d get a fair chance. “Face to face . . .” said the source. “Where do you go from there?”

Wait…did Mr. Borges use himself as a source here? He admitted he prepared Bledsoe for this very showdown, so there’s no doubt he would’ve huddled up afterwards to go over how everything went down.

The entire column is shots at Belichick, and contains this all-time classic bit:

Belichick will not be so lucky. He doesn’t have [Jimmy] Johnson’s personality, which can be as jovial and charming as a snake oil salesman’s. Worse, this Patriot team isn’t going to win two Super Bowls any time soon.

Mr. Borges is an angry, increasingly irrelevant man. I’ve wasted enough time on him in the last two days.

Now everyone can get back to vilifying Rajon Rondo.

Rondo, Brooklyn brawl at the Garden in Celtics loss

The Celtics fell to the Brooklyn Nets 95-83 Wednesday night at the Garden, but the big story was Rajon Rondo pushing/punching Kris Humphries after a hard foul on Kevin Garnett, which led to the two teams shoving one another and the ejections of Rondo, Humphries and the Nets’ Gerald Wallace. Rondo will certainly be suspended at least one game and much has been made of it towards Rondo’s reputation and supposedly being the leader of the team.

With the ejection, Rondo’s assist streak came to an end — a streak full of controversy.

Is there any coach better than Doc Rivers in postgame press conferences? Rivers was brutally honest regarding his team, calling them “soft”. The coach also called out a few players (not by name) for assuming just by wearing the Celtics uniform they will play like a Celtic instead of working hard and earning it. He also added, “the brawl was not toughness, we don’t have any toughness.” Rivers has always been forthcoming with the media about his team, but Wednesday night was one his best press conferences of all-time.

Celtics play the waiting game regarding possible Rajon Rondo suspension- Gary Washburn’s notebook has Rondo could be facing a multi-game suspension as he’s already been suspended by the league twice in the past ten months. Gary Dzen has the Nets’ players reactions from the scrum.

Rajon Rondo playing the fool- Steve Bulpett says Rondo’s emotions got the best of him and now a suspension looms.

Rajon Rondo shows some fight- Chris Forsberg has how the Celtics could turn this into a positive, making them into a tougher team.

Rondo’s assist streak ends after ejection- Jessica Camerato has more on Rondo’s assist streak coming to an end.

Division crown no longer a layup for C’s- Bulpett also has the Atlantic Division being a much more competitive division this year, with the Nets, 76’ers and Knicks all primed to compete with the Celtics.

Bird’s Rookie Year – Game 20 vs. the Nuggets

Celtics (15-4) vs. Nuggets (9-15)
Wednesday, November 28
Boston Garden

Good things seemed to happen at the Garden when Dick Bavetta refs.

The last time Bavetta reffed a game in Boston, Larry Bird put up a triple-double.

Bird followed up that performance with a dominating 29 point, 7 rebound, 8 assist night in a 119-97 win over the Nuggets.  He shot 12-for-18 from the field and even canned another 3-pointer.  Overall, the story of the night was the three-point shot.  The Celtics lit up Denver by hitting a team-high six 3’s, including five from Chris Ford.  Ford had quietly contributed all season, but now was starting to break out with back-to-back standout games.  The future Celtics head coach poured in 27 points, as well as added 4 steals and 3 assists.  Known for his defensive spark, the 29-year old from Atlantic City was really adding a lot to the shooting guard position.

The starting five for the C’s pushed around the Nuggets.  Along with superb nights from Bird and Ford, the Green Team’s first five outscored their counterparts, 84-60.  Cedric Maxwell had a quiet game offensively, but contributed to the victory with 9 boards and 4 assists.  The Celtics were all filling their roles so well at such an early junction in the season, and Tiny Archibald did his job at the point with 10 points and distributed 13 assists.  Dave Cowens added 12 and 10.

The prior season, the Celtics did not reach their fifteenth victory until January 19.  Cowens, Archibald, Ford, and Maxwell were all part of that team, but the addition of Bird helped bring out the best in all of his teammates.

Fellow NBA rookie Earvin “Magic” Johnson was quoted in an aforementioned Sports Illustrated story by Douglas Looney, and he discussed the power of passing:

For his part, Magic says, “I discovered as a kid that the way to win was not to have a bunch of guys who could shoot 20-foot jump shots. What we’d do is get five average guys who could shoot layups. Then we’d pass—and win.”

Now, as the top team in the Atlantic and the Eastern Conference, Bird’s teammates — though these Celtics were far from average players, as Cowens and Archibald were two of the league’s finest and Maxwell sacrificed much of game to fill a defensive/rebounding role the team desperately needed — were likely to agree with that assessment.  After taking an Indiana State team further than anyone possibly conceived, Bird was now surrounded by talented teammates and seemed ready to take the league by storm.  The win, which featured Bill Fitch’s first ejection of the season, marked the Celtics’ fourth straight victory.  A rematch with the Knicks awaited on Friday at the Boston Garden.

 

Ron Borges Caught In Another Lie, Mazz Making Stuff Up, and Peter King’s Laughable Rationalization

Just another day in the world of the Boston sports media.

In the morning, we had Pete Sheppard taking on Ron Borges on the Dennis and Callahan Morning Show. Borges, as usual sounded like a raving madman, screaming, yelling and cursing on the air- getting bleeped out, shouting down any accusations or points made against him. As far as defenses go, its a reliable one, if you’re on the offensive and changing the talking points every two seconds, it’s going to be hard to build that stable case against you in the short time you have on the air.

Of course, the case against Borges was made a long time ago, and it has only been added to since.

One accusation that Sheppard made was that Borges had had dinner at Drew Bledsoe’s house, and how this closeness was part of the reason Borges turned on Bill Belichick so venomously when Belichick named Brady the starter even when Bledsoe was ready to return in 2001.

Borges went ballistic on Sheppard, screaming, asking what evidence he had of this supposed dinner, and when pressed on it yelled “NO I DIDN’T” and demanded again to have Sheppard reveal evidence.

Here’s your evidence, Ron: From Drew Bledsoe himself:

So there you go. Yet another documented case of Ron Borges lying.

Gerry Callahan was his usual loathsome self during the show,  at one point dropping into his whiny, feminine voice to say that Sheppard would now be wearing a fireman’s helmet to the games and leading the cheers of P-A-T-S, PATS!

When the topic of Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning throwing the ball on the Packers with five minutes to go came up, the goalposts were shifted again, instead of it being only the evil Patriots and Bill Belichick that do this, it became “we’re only concerned with Tom Brady and him getting hurt.

In the afternoon, Tony Massarotti spent the afternoon yelling that Jermaine Cunningham was clearly much bigger than he was in previous seasons and that the suspension was definitely not for Adderall.  He presented absolutely zero evidence of this, and really,  how could he? How much is he around the team? I’m not convinced that he even watches the games.

Meanwhile, if you want to know about Adderall, and why NFL players might want to take it, and why it is banned, Tom E Curran has it all.

A GIS search of Cunningham shows no obvious changes in his body since joining the Patriots. Some modest increase in strength, but no Barry Bonds-like transformation. Yet Massarotti was screaming that if you didn’t see, it, you’re an idiot, a moron and just plain stupid.

I continue to be baffled as to way anyone who actually enjoys sports and their teams would listen to this type of programming willingly. I’m clearly old-school, maybe not this old school, but definitely from before the time when sports radio only existed to dump on the local teams 24/7.

The running-up-the-score hypocrisy will not die. Peter King in his MMQB, Tuesday Edition answered an email from a New England NFL fan:

BELICHICK DOES IT ALL THE TIME. COUGHLIN, NOT SO MUCH. “How about a team that is up by four touchdowns (38-10) with five minutes left and keeping the starting quarterback in and is STILL throwing the ball? Man, that Belichick is one evil…. oh wait… that was Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning against Green Bay Sunday night. When it’s not Belichick, the moral outrage goes away, right?”
– Tom, Portsmouth, N.H.

It’s a little different. Belichick’s done this often over the years. You need more than one hand to count the times Tom Brady’s been in a total blowout in the middle of the fourth quarter. But Coughlin had a reason, I believe. His offense had been struggling for four weeks, and he has every right to use the game to do what he can to make sure his team is back on track for the stretch run. People wouldn’t be killing Belichick if it were a one-time occurrence. Obviously, it’s not.

My mind is still spinning at this.

It’s OK for Coughlin to use a real, live game to work on things to make his team better and make sure they’re in top form for the postseason. Bill Belichick does it, and it’s just out of spite and poor sportsmanship. Got it.

I mean, it’s not like Saint Tony Dungy ever did this sort of thing with Peyton Manning. Oh, wait.

I think this might be the more accurate explanation for why only Belichick gets flayed for this.

The other thing to wonder is how often are other teams even in this position? It’s all well and good to say that Coughlin, or any other coach doesn’t leave their QB in with a 35-point lead, or isn’t passing under five minutes with a 35-point lead. How many teams routinely have 35-point leads?

Still on the Patriots, with the Gil Santos era winding down, the subject of his replacement is gaining momentum.

John Rooke, The Obvious Choice To Take Over For Gil Santos – Derek Havens looks at why Rooke and his 20 years of working for the Patriots make him the best choice for the job. I’m on-board with this, certainly if it keeps Gary Tanguay or Jon Meterparel away from the gig.

Meanwhile, Red Sox reporters are waiting for something to happen.

Abraham of course, wrote a Lester column himself, but that was sort of his point. Right now, the Red Sox media is jumping on any scrap of information and writing about it.

I thought Abraham and Chad Finn had a nice 1-2 punch on the Jon Lester for Wil Myers rumor(?) Is it even a rumor? Speculation?

Lester for a prospect? Here’s why it’s crazy – Abraham

Jon Lester for Wil Myers? Why not? – Finn

A slow time on the local sports scene

With the Patriots playing on Thanksgiving they were on a mini-bye week this past weekend, the Celtics were off Monday and won’t be on the court again until Wednesday, and the Red Sox haven’t made any big splashes during the Hot Stove season. All of this put together equals a few slow days in the Boston sports media.

The only two notable news stories coming out of Monday were Jermaine Cunningham being suspended four games for violating the league’s policy on performance enhancing substances, and then a report from Kansas City stating the Red Sox have spoken to the Royals regarding a trade of Jon Lester for prospect Wil Myers — although the deal will in all likelihood never happen.

Here are a few of the notable links from this morning:

If BC finds the right coach, don’t get too attached- Christopher Gasper says since BC isn’t a football powerhouse, if they do get the right coach, don’t expect him to stay long as he will likely leave for bigger program after a few seasons.

Jermaine Cunningham’s PED use all about survival- Gerry Callahan doesn’t blame Cunningham for trying to get an advantage coming off a season where he recorded just one tackle.

Tom Brady getting better with age- Jeff Howe looks at the season Brady is having despite being 35-years-old.

Belichick is seeing secondary gains- Tom E. Curran has how the secondary is getting better each week.

Mike Napoli will next meet with Texas- Peter Abraham in his notebook says the free agent C/1B will meet with the Rangers after meetings with Boston and Seattle.

 

Prescient Ron Borges on Cunningham?

Patriots defensive lineman Jermaine Cunningham was suspended today for four games for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.

In his report card following the season-opener against the Titans, Ron Borges wrote:

Jermaine Cunningham, now mysteriously bulked up, doubled his career sack total with one and at times slid inside to DT, providing a distinct speed advantage without losing much strength.

When the suspension was announced today, Borges wasted no time in his victory lap:

So how much did Borges know, if anything? Or is this another “even a stopped clock is right twice a day” type of thing?

Cold Water For A Few Media Storylines

We’ll go with some random thoughts this morning, while attempting to debunk a few of the media’s favorite storylines right now.

I looked for it, but didn’t see the nationwide outrage last night as the New York Giants led the Green Bay Packers by 28 points and Eli Manning was in the game, throwing for the end zone on 4th down with 5:03 remaining in the game.

On Thursday night, just after halftime, for crying out loud, you had actual NFL beat writers (wait, does Buffalo count?) posting things like this:

I know the media roots for storylines, but rooting for injuries is cool?

Last night, not a peep. No hand-wringing over leaving Eli Manning in the game and risking the season. No accusations of hubris hurled at Tom Coughlin. Nothing. I’m sure the phone lines in New York are filled up with angry Giants fans embarrassed at their coach and his poor sportsmanship.

————

Since the start of the 2010 season, the Patriots have forced 106 turnovers. That’s the most in the NFL. More than teams with heralded defenses like the Bears, the Giants the 49ers and the Steelers. More than any team. Not bad for the “worst defense in the NFL.”

I’m sure that’s just a fluke though, and that all those Patriots opponents just willingly surrendered the ball to the Patriots.

If it happened one year, maybe you can make a case that  it’s a fluke, but over three years, that seems like a pattern. It seems like something that is being aimed for. They give up a ton of yards, but they force the opponent into mistakes and miscues. Their points given up is usually upper to middle of the pack, which when you’re scoring as many points as the Patriots do, is perfectly fine.

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Watch out for the Broncos!

That’s the latest cry, with many in the media hopping on board the Peyton Manning express. Most are citing improvements that the Broncos have made as the season has gone along,  especially since the loss to the Patriots.Some have even made statements like “Is there any offense more potent than Manning and the Broncos?”

Last 4 weeks
Manning 100.0 QBRating / 7 td / 3 int / 862 yds
Brady 122.0 QBRating / 12 td / 0 int / 1195 yds

Broncos 114 pts
Patriots 190 pts

(Thanks Brian in LA)

Did the same people see Manning and the Broncos struggle against the worst team in the NFL yesterday? I know it was a division game, and those are always unpredictable (like the first Patriots/Jets game) but still, the Broncos really struggled at times, and Manning made some awful throws to boot. I’d take the Patriots running game over the Broncos, as well.

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We didn’t learn anything from this win.

This is a favorite of the local sports talk radio hosts. It’s been said after almost every win this season. Apparently we only learn after losses, or perhaps near-losses.

What did we learn after the last two wins? That the Patriots didn’t take these opponents lightly, and that they were focused on winning the game and moving on. They didn’t fall in any “traps,” they’re showing improvement on defense and special teams, and the offense continues to evolve and show new wrinkles.

Maybe someday we can learn to just enjoy games like these.

—————-

Rajon Rondo is selfish because he’s trying to go for an assist record.

Is it possible to be selfish in trying to help your teammates score? Apparently so, according to some. (As much as he turtled to Tommy Heinsohn, Gary Tanguay is as guilty as anyone on this.)

About the only time the Celtics are being mentioned in the early going is when the topic of Rondo and his double-digit assist streak is brought up.

Tommy has the answer.

P.S. – How bad is that Steve Buckley column today? That’s about as bad as it gets. In short, Patriots fans shouldn’t enjoy a blowout win over the Jets, because they did that in 2010, and look how that turned out. Also, Patriots fans can’t feel confident in the offense, since it has been stopped on occasion. Also, the dynasty is over.

Bird’s Rookie Year – Game 19 vs. the Hawks

Celtics (14-4) vs. Hawks (13-9)
Saturday, November 24
Omni Coliseum

Both teams entered the game on streaks: the Celtics were winners of the past two while the Hawks had dropped road games to the Bucks and Bulls.  The difference in this game, however, came down to one simple fact: the Celtics had Dave Cowens and Atlanta did not.  The Green Team received a vintage performance from the 6’9″ product out of Florida State. [Read more...]