Posted on: January 21, 2010 11:39 am
Edited on: January 21, 2010 7:48 pm
The All-Star starters were revealed Thursday night on TNT before the nationally televised rematch of the Cavs' Christmas Day blowout of the Lakers.
Thankfully, Tracy McGrady wasn't one of them.
All hail Steve Nash, who passed T-Mac in the final weeks of voting and will start alongside Kobe Bryant in the Western Conference backcourt in the Feb. 14 All-Star Game in Dallas. McGrady, who has played all of six games this season, won't be faced with the inglorious decision of having to decline an invitation he didn't deserve.
In another fan-voting quirk that was less controversial than a T-Mac starting nod would've been, Allen Iverson will start alongside Dwyane Wade in the Eastern Conference backcourt. The other East starters: Dwight Howard, LeBron James, and Kevin Garnett (assuming he's healthy).
Joining Kobe and Nash on the West's starting five: Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire, and Tim Duncan, who passed Dirk Nowitzki in the final three weeks of voting.
"No Dirk as a starter?" Mavs owner Mark Cuban tweeted. "Time to change the rules for voting."
McGrady carried a 2,375-vote lead over Nash into the final three weeks of balloting, which was conducted by fans via paper, online, and wireless voting. If Nash hadn't passed McGrady, the right thing for T-Mac to do would've been politely decline.
It wouldn't have cost him a dime, either. A source with knowledge of the situation said McGrady has no All-Star bonus clauses in his contract, which pays him a league-high $23 million this season.
It's better for everyone this way. McGrady is trying to come back from microfracture surgery. More to the point, he would benefit immensely if the Rockets were somehow able to trade him before the Feb. 18 trade deadline. McGrady didn't need to risk his health or his already suffering reputation by trying to dust himself off for a few meaningless All-Star minutes.
I don't have a problem with Iverson starting; he's been a fan favorite his entire career, certainly deserves it based on his body of work, and -- this is important -- is actually suiting up for the Sixers, albeit at a remarkably reduced rate of effectiveness.
In spite of Nash's fortunate comeback, I agree with Boston's Ray Allen and would be in favor of tweaking the voting system to divide the say-so among fans, media members, and players. The players, more than anybody else, know who's deserving and who isn't. The coaches should retain their ability to select the reserves.
On one hand, you don't want to take away the fans' investment in the game, which after all is at least partly -- or mostly -- for their entertainment. But the All-Star Game badly needs a dose of legitimacy. Gone are the days when Michael Jordan or Dominique Wilkins could dominate All-Star weekend with their exploits in the dunk contest. That exercise long ago became a farce, and once again none of the marquee stars will participate this year.
So instead of complaining, I offer a solution. Not the only solution, but a start. Instead of voting by position, the fans vote for any 10 players they want from each conference. The players do the same. Their votes are weighted equally, and the top eight in each conference make the team. All 30 coaches vote to determine the 10 starters. The East coach and West coach fill out the roster with four reserves each.
The media? I'm not sure whom to count as media anymore, so let's leave us out of it. We'll just write about what happens.
Perfect? No. Somebody will get snubbed; they always do. But it's better than people constantly texting the word McGrady until they almost succeed in making a mockery of what is supposed to be a serious honor.
If there are any better ideas out there, you know what to do.
Posted on: December 23, 2009 4:57 pm
Kevin Garnett missed Tuesday night's game against Indiana with a thigh bruise. Pretty innocuous stuff. But on Wednesday came news that Paul Pierce underwent an arthroscopic irrigation on his right knee to clean an infection.
That doesn't sound good at all.
Pierce will miss the Celtics' four-game road trip, which begins with Friday's nationally televised Christmas Day game against Orlando. Though no structural damage was found in Pierce's knee, the Celtics say he could be sidelined up to two weeks.
The Celtics (22-5) have the best record in the East and second-best in the league after the Lakers (23-4). Friday's game could've been a chance to avenge a home loss to the Magic back in November. Instead, they find themselves limping toward 2010 with their fingers crossed.
Both KG and Pierce presumably will be fine. But it's worth remembering at this point that age and brittle bones are not the Celtics' friends. Among the elite teams, nobody relies more on aging veterans than the Celtics.
Pierce is 32 and has logged more than 31,000 minutes in the NBA. Garnett will turn 34 during the playoffs, and his odometer reads 40,000 and counting. Ray Allen is 34 and has launched more than 15,000 shots -- and that's not counting the tens of thousands in practice. Rasheed Wallace is 35 and has more than 1,000 NBA games in his rear-view mirror. And let's face it, Sheed isn't going to be signed as a pitchman for a longevity clinic any time soon.
I'm not suggesting that KG's bruise and Pierce's infected knee are cause for grave concern. I'm just noting that, you know, these guys are old.
Posted on: October 27, 2009 4:24 pm
Edited on: October 27, 2009 7:15 pm
CLEVELAND -- That sound you heard was Kevin Garnett's head exploding upon hearing the news that Glen "Big Baby" Davis put himself on the shelf for 6-8 weeks with a thumb injury incurred in a fight with a friend.
All together now ... with friends like that ...
Davis underwent surgery in Boston Tuesday to repair the damage -- to his thumb, but not to the Celtics. In a Yahoo! Sports story in which Davis explains that he hurt himself retaliating after the driver of a moving car Davis was riding in slugged him early Sunday morning, Davis mentioned that he received concerned text messages from teammates Eddie House, Rasheed Wallace, Tony Allen and J.R. Giddens. No mention of Garnett, who probably let out so many four-letter words upon hearing the news that the late, great George Carlin lost his train of thought in the middle of a heavenly standup routine.
UPDATE: "I'm supportive of Baby, but very disappointed, obviously," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said Tuesday night, addressing the issue publicly for the first time before Boston's opener against the Cavs. "It just puts everybody in a bad way. ... When we got the results back, we were hoping that it was going to be a bad lesson, but not a lesson that was going to hurt our team as well. It turned out to be both."
Rivers said he's spent very little time in organizational meetings surrounding the team's plans to suspend Davis. The basis for it would be that he suffered a non-basketball injury, which is grounds for a suspension without pay.
Of more concern for Rivers is who gets Davis' minutes. He's hopeful that Shelden Williams -- who was marveling at the fact that he hasn't played on national TV since he was at Duke -- would be able to step in on the fly. A contribution from Williams would limit the worst-case scenario -- overextending Garnett or Wallace this early in the season.
"The one thing we didn’t want to do early in the year is to extend minutes to Kevin or Rasheed," Rivers said. "And that’s where, if this injury did anything, it may throw some of those plans out a little bit. We may have to lean on some other guys to just burn some minutes for us."
There are holes in Davis' story, important details to be filled in -- as usually is the case when an athlete gets involved in something this stupid. Those details could become the concern of an arbitrator, as the Celtics are considering suspending Davis to recoup some of the two-year, $6.3 million contract they signed him to this past summer.
All of this went down in the precious hours before the Celtics tip off the 2009-10 season Tuesday night in Cleveland against LeBron James, Shaquille O'Neal, and the Cavaliers. Delonte West should be the one texting Big Baby, to thank him for the headlines.
"I’ll make this point: Baby’s not a bad person," Rivers said. "He made a bad mistake and he made a bad judgment. Unfortunately, it only takes one second or five seconds to make a mistake and then you have to live with it at times. Right now he has to live with that mistake. But he's not a bad kid. He’s growing, he’s maturing. Obviously, he’s got a ways to go."
The short-term loss of Davis isn't as much of a loss for the Celtics as it would've been had they not added Wallace as a free agent this past summer. The Celtics will still win 60-plus games and be the favorites entering the postseason. But it only underscores how elite teams in any sport are always one senseless escapade away from having their championship hopes dashed. If I were Big Baby, I'd use some of my down time to read my contract, as well as the collective bargaining agreement language on "non-basketball injuries." Then, I'd call Monta Ellis and ask how all that worked out for him. (Hint: Ellis was suspended 30 games without pay, which seems like a good starting point for the discussion on Davis' punishment.)
Posted on: July 2, 2009 11:49 am
Edited on: July 2, 2009 5:39 pm
The Celtics' star-laden recruiting pitch for Rasheed Wallace is occurring Thursday afternoon in Detroit. CBSSports.com has learned that Celtics president Danny Ainge, apparently flanked by his Big Three of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce, will court the former Pistons forward in a matter of hours.
Boston is the first team Wallace will meet with as he weighs his free-agent options. The Celtics' contingent had expressed a desire to meet face-to-face with Wallace as soon as the free-agent negotiating period opened at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, but it was decided that the meeting would take place Thursday, a person with knowledge of the situation said. Celtics managing partner Wyc Grousbeck also is believed to be on the trip.
Wallace's camp has heard from eight or nine teams with interest in signing him, but Wallace will narrow the list down based on the teams' chances of making a deep playoff run and how he will fit in. The Celtics, Cavaliers, Spurs, and Lakers certainly fit those criteria and have interest. Houston initially was a team that intrigued Wallace, but that interest has waned with the news that Yao Ming could miss the entire 2009-10 season with a broken foot. Although Denver officials are big fans of Wallace -- GM Mark Warkentien and Wallace were together in Portland -- the Nuggets are not among the teams that have expressed interest.
UPDATE: The Celtics offered Wallace a contract at the anticipated mid-level exception after the three-hour meeting, according to the Boston Globe. The Big Three, Ainge, Grousbeck, and coach Doc Rivers attended the meeting.
Posted on: May 2, 2009 7:39 pm
BOSTON -- An hour before the seventh and final game in an epic playoff series, what more could possibly be said? The always quotable Doc Rivers found a way.
Asked in his pre-game briefing with reporters how unlikely it would be for either the Celtics or the Bulls to make adjustments at this late stage of the series, Rivers said, "If we play Kevin, that would be a huge adjustment."
Kevin, of course, is Kevin Garnett, who has been out for the entire series with a knee injury. Rivers and general manager Danny Ainge have said repeatledly that they don't expect Garnett to play at all this postseason. But that hasn't stopped inquiring minds from reading between the lines. Ainge's choice of words Friday -- that he wasn't "planning" on Garnett being available for Game 7 or at any point in the playoffs -- set off new rounds of speculation that K.G. could shock everyone and suit up for the Celtics' most important game since last year's NBA Finals.
Asked he was playing Garnett Saturday night, Rivers laughed and said, "No, I'm not. Hell, you guys have said it all over the last couple of days. I told somebody this morning that I thought somebody was going to report that they saw Big Foot and Sasquatch."
Both Big Foot and Sasquatch, no doubt, would be assessed flagrant fouls if they were playing in Game 7 of this series.
Posted on: April 21, 2009 2:27 pm
In the visiting locker room before Game 1 in Boston, the Bulls' Luol Deng mentioned something interesting that comes to mind now with word that Leon Powe is out for the year with a torn knee ligament.
The morning after John Salmons tweaked his groin in late March, Deng rushed to the practice court to test the stress fracture in his leg to see if there was any chance of an accelerated comeback. With the Bulls in a tight playoff race, Deng felt an extra sense of urgency to get back on the court and "give it a go," he said.
"The next day," Deng added, "I had a huge setback."
So the strategy didn't work. But that doesn't mean it can't be tried again. Not by Deng, but by one Kevin Garnett.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers has made it abundantly clear that Garnett will not play in these playoffs and that he's not entertaining any more questions about it. That doesn't mean the story -- or Garnett's desire to return -- will go away.
Garnett's every move is under close scrutiny, as evidenced by this story Sunday in the Boston Herald describing a surprise appearance by Garnett on the Celtics' practice court in workout clothes. Clearly, Garnett is continuing to test his knee in an attempt -- however futile -- to rejoin his team and avert a first-round series loss to the Baby Bulls.
The Celtics can't do this without Garnett, much less without Garnett and Powe, a key reserve in their title run last year. So based on how Deng and other injured players are known to react when more teammates get injured, I'd say it's a pretty safe bet that Garnett will kick it up a notch in his effort to return.
It might not work, and Rivers might not want to talk about it. But that doesn't mean it can't be tried.
Posted on: April 18, 2009 12:03 pm
BOSTON -- With all the focus on Kevin Garnett, there's been barely a mention of another key player missing the Bulls-Celtics series. But Luol Deng said Saturday he may be able to return in some capacity if Chicago advances to the second round.
"In my mind, yes," Deng said in the visiting locker room before the Bulls and Celtics opened their best-of-seven series. "I don't know what the doctors will say, but I feel like I could hopefully do something."
Deng has been out since the end of February with a stress fracture in his right leg. He revealed Saturday that an MRI this week showed the fracture is about halfway healed.
"It's leading in the right direction," Deng said. "It could be a month. It could be longer. I could be OK in two weeks."
Unlike Garnett, who is averse to sitting on the bench when he can't play, Deng said he's OK with it. Garnett, too, told Celtics coach Doc Rivers he'd make an exception and join his teammates on the bench.
"I know Garnett is very intense," Deng said. "I can sit on the bench. It's tough, but I'm fine sitting on the bench."
Rivers and the Celtics were still wrestling with a more serious, off-the-court health situation as they prepared to open their title defense. Team president Danny Ainge was continuing to rest comfortable in Massachusetts General Hospital after suffering a mild heart attack Thursday.
"He told me I've got to start eating better and exercising more, because I have more stress than him," Rivers said. "I told him he's stressing about me stressing. And to relax."
Posted on: April 16, 2009 2:52 pm
Well, the WEEI website has survived the onslaught of distraught Celtics fans who must've crashed it upon hearing the news about Kevin Garnett this morning. Here's a link to the entire transcript of Doc Rivers' interview with the station Thursday morning. Notice that Doc is adamant that he "thinks" Garnett is out for the entire postseason, but carefully couches his comments by saying, "I don't know that for a fact yet." Doc also sprinkles in other gems like the following:
"I mean, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t keep getting treatment and see where he can go. But I mean, there’s no way he can play."
Rivers said pretty much the same stuff after practice Thursday, according to a transcript provided by the Celtics' PR department.
"He’s out. I think he’s out," Rivers said. "It’s not official if he’s out for the entire playoffs, but it's official as far as I’m concerned. ... I think for the playoffs. Listen, he looked better last week than he did today. Obviously, out of left field, honestly, but it is what it is. He’s obviously done everything he could do to get back on the floor to the point where I was convinced he was going to be back on the floor. I was convinced there wasn’t going to be a minute limitation, but there’s no way, just no way.
“After two steps, it didn’t take long," Rivers said. "... I mean, he ran more than that but, it was just ridiculous to watch. I was surprised because I saw him run last week and he looked great. That just told you that this wasn’t heading the right direction. They’re still going to do treatment and they’re going to treat him and try to get him back as soon as they can get him back. Just common sense -- if it hasn’t healed yet, it’s not going to heal.”
Asked what the tipping point for him was, Rivers said, "Just couldn’t run. And you saw his face and you saw him trying to mask like there was no pain, which he couldn’t do that. Honestly, when we shut him down he was frustrated and upset about it but he stopped immediately. That told you all you need to know.”
Rivers also said Garnett will need surgery to remove a bone spur from his right knee that is unrelated to the tendon injury that is keeping him out of the playoffs. The Celtics have asked Garnett to sit on the bench for support during the first-round series against Chicago that begins Saturday in Boston. Garnett typically has not sat with his teammates when injured.
Now, I have to provide this caveat before I say any more: After the season, I will be attending rehab specially designed for those susceptible to conspiracy theories. But hear me out: Is there any chance Rivers is pulling our legs? (No pun intended.)
Garnett's injury has been odd from the beginning, and his aborted, four-game comeback was strange, too. After looking good in running drills only a week ago, it's weird again that the injury took such a dramatic turn for the worse two days before the playoffs. All I'm saying is this: Pay attention to how careful Rivers was with his words. And remember that the conference finals -- if the Celtics can somehow manage to make it there without Garnett -- don't start for another month.
Something tells me we haven't heard the end of this story yet.