Ramble On Sports

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Archive for the ‘Basketball’ Category

All should be wary of West’s return

Posted by Bill Koch on September 1, 2010

We’d like to issue a public service announcement to all the lovely ladies out there who support the cause here at Ramble On.

Since my man BDowd and myself try to act as gentlemanly as possible at all times, we feel it’s only right to warn all of you about who’s coming back to Boston. To quote our man Big Boi from Outkast, this goes out to all the mommas, baby’s mommas and baby’s momma’s mommas.

Delonte West will sign a free agent deal with the Boston Celtics and report to the team’s training camp before the start of the 2010-11 season, an unexpected return that only Danny Ainge could have orchestrated. The contracts that he handed to Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Jermaine O’Neal, coupled with the existing deals on the books with Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins, have forced Boston to look to the scrap heap to fill in the rest of its roster as it tries to return to the NBA Finals for the third time in four years.

Enter West, whose life has taken a series of bizarre twists and turns since the Celtics packaged him with Wally Szczerbiak and the draft rights to No. 5 pick Jeff Green for Allen and the draft rights to Big Baby Davis from Seattle (now Oklahoma City) in June 2007. Allen helped Boston win Banner 17 and West spiraled out of control thanks to his battle with bipolar disorder, enduring a series of incidents that you couldn’t make up in Hollywood. He never gave us the impression that he was the most stable guy in the first place – the neck tattoos and the unexplained STD stain on his lower lip always had us a little freaked out, but we dealt with it.

Not we’re not sure what to think, and that’s why we’re throwing out this warning. West was traded from Seattle to Cleveland in 2008 to be a complimentary piece of the LeBron James puzzle and allegedly did a little bit more than that. He was arrested in Sept. 2009 while riding a three-wheel motorcycle and carrying three guns, including a Remington 870 shotgun, in a guitar case over his shoulder. Ramble On is not fan of any potential for gun violence, but the story doesn’t end there. The Cavaliers’ latest playoff flameout was followed by incredible Internet rumors that West was having an affair with James’ mother Gloria.

Let us be 100 percent clear – we have no idea if it happened or not. Still, we find it pretty hairy that such a thing was even being discussed. Going anywhere near your friend’s Mom is borderline behavior at best and something that we don’t endorse. Yeah, sure, we all had a crush on someone’s Mom when we were 13. It usually ended by the time we started shaving more than once a week. It tells us, if true, that West has no depths that he won’t sink to. We think that all the ladies out there should be fully aware of what West is bringing to the table if they ever run into him on Causeway Street – don’t say you haven’t been warned.

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Thomas return is pretty poor — even for the shameful Knicks

Posted by Bill Koch on August 6, 2010

Are the New York Knicks serious?

Did they really just hire a man who tried to torpedo their franchise both on and off the court?

James Dolan can’t be this stupid and egotistical, can he?

Sadly, for basketball fans that flock to the arrogantly named World’s Greatest Arena, the answers to those questions are yes, yes, and yes.

The Knicks brought back Isiah Thomas on Friday as a consultant, just two short years after he was fired from his role as the team’s head coach and president. New York never posted a winning season during his first run with the team from 2003-08 and there’s no reason to think it’s going to be any different this time around.

Wake up, Knicks fans – Dolan just spit in your face. He couldn’t get LeBron James to come to be the savior, so now he’s bringing back New York’s version of Judas. You should be outraged. Thomas nuked the Knicks into The Stone Age thanks to idiotic acquisitions like Stephon Marbury, Jerome James, Jared Jeffries, Eddy Curry, Steve Francis and Zach Randolph, and that doesn’t even scratch the surface of the disgraceful unprofessional behavior that led to an $11.6 million lawsuit by former team employee Anucha Browne Sanders. Remember that one, Knicks fans? Remember Kathleen Decker talking about her 45 minutes of fame in the back of Marbury’s Escalade?

I can’t blame New York’s basketball fans if they’ve tried to block out the memories from the Thomas era. His five-year reign of terror was like a bad relationship with a significant other who you just want to forget. The problem with that is you tend not to learn from your mistakes and end up repeating them. You’re about to see a good example of this unfold just a few blocks from Broadway, and this script is better than anything you could see on stage.

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Two Fenway Franks please! On second thought……

Posted by Bill Koch on July 26, 2010

Food

We came across this little nugget today while surfing the internet for the latest and greatest in the world of sports. This is the side that’s often unseen – our stadiums. Specifically, is that Fenway Frank completely safe? Are the Papa Gino’s pizzas at Gillette Stadium as fresh as advertised? Would the Bruins really be cheap enough to serve expired beef in their cheeseburgers?

Here are the results. By comparison, we look like we’re pretty lucky here in New England (Fenway Park, Gillette Stadium, The Fake Garden). Canada (Bell Centre, Rogers Centre, Scotiabank Place) seems like a great place to go to a game. Illinois (Wrigley Field, the United Center, U.S. Cellular Field) is just about perfect. Colorado? Florida? Not so much. And be careful drinking those $60 glasses of scotch at Yankee Stadium and Citi Field. Your price to pay for snobbery could end up costing you a trip to the emergency room. Don’t say that we here at Ramble On never added to the quality of your life.

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Jermaine O’Neal? Are the Celtics really this desperate?

Posted by Bill Koch on July 8, 2010

Jermaine O'Neal

Add Jermaine O’Neal to the list of players on the Boston Celtics who are pushing the 17th hole at the least.

The former Miami, Toronto and Indiana forward, who pulled a disappearing act against Kendrick Perkins in the Eastern Conference playoffs last season, will gobble up all of Boston’s $5 million-plus mid-level exception. He joins Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett on the AARP crew that Danny Ainge insisted would never be assembled.

O’Neal’s 14 points and seven rebounds during the regular season last year were just fine, but the 2010-11 edition of the Celtics are going to be less interested in the 82-game grind than the group last year who loafed its way to a 27-27 finish. The postseason is all that this bunch of aging, creaky corpses will care about and O’Neal did next to nothing in the paint to help Dwyane Wade and Co. while they were suffering through a 4-1 destruction at Boston’s hands. O’Neal was also a playoff failure in Indiana, and that was when his right shoulder actually had full range of motion and both of his knees didn’t need to be insured by Lloyd’s of London. Chalk this one up as another misguided attempt by Ainge to hold onto the past and wake us up when his nursing home disguised as an NBA locker room fails again in the late spring.

Oh, and in case anybody forgot — this is why most of you likely remember O’Neal’s name:

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Jesus can’t save Celtics this time

Posted by Bill Koch on July 7, 2010

Ray Allen

Hope Celtics fans are happy now – we here at Ramble On promise it won’t last very long.

Ray Allen agreed to a two-year deal to stay in Boston late Wednesday night, bringing a close to the Celtics’ chance to rebuild their team on the fly and add some younger pieces to the core of Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins. Boston elected to burn all of its cap space by foolishly bringing back Paul Pierce courtesy of a four-year, $61-million extension and now have another 30-something in Allen to clog up its roster.

In retrospect, we wish the run to Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers had never happened. The franchise and its fans were duped into believing that the Celtics were truly four points away from hoisting Banner 18 to the rafters at The Fake Garden and will now be doomed to suffer through a cycle of history repeating itself. The last time Boston’s roster was this old, The Big Three were decaying at the end of their respective careers and stifled any chance that the Celtics had to rebuild. Tragedy (the deaths of Reggie Lewis and Len Bias) and poor decisions (drafting Michael Smith, Jerome Moiso, Eric Montross, etc., and trading for Vin Baker) condemned the Celtics to irrelevance while Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish declined.

Danny Ainge should have learned from this. He played in Boston in the late 1980s and he insisted that he had that first-hand knowledge in mind when he traded for Allen and Kevin Garnett three years ago, telling anyone who would listen that he realized this current group had a short window in which to win a title due to their age. Apparently Ainge’s own age – and perhaps a touch of Alzheimer’s disease – has started to take away some of his sharpness. He’s set Boston up to fail and now he’ll be the one to watch another group of veterans whose best days are long gone.

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Little reason to celebrate new Pierce deal

Posted by Bill Koch on July 2, 2010

Paul Pierce

Pardon us here at Ramble On if we don’t celebrate the news that Paul Pierce is close to agreeing with the Boston Celtics on a new contract.

Pierce is past his prime. Yes, we just said it. Pierce’s best days are behind him, and now Boston is going to handcuff itself by giving The Truth a four-year, $60-million deal that feels more like a career reward than an actual representation of where Pierce is currently as a player.

Let’s be honest – Pierce isn’t a top-10 player in the NBA right now. It’s a stretch to even call him a top-20 player. He might not even be a top-25 player. None of that seems to matter to the Celtics. They’re about to flush any chances that they have of using their cap space to rebuild their aging team on the fly around Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins (when he eventually returns from knee surgery).

It’s not that we don’t want The Truth to finish his career here. We’ll never forget his role in bringing Banner 17 to the rafters of The Fake Garden. We only point out Pierce’s contract situation because we’ve seen this before in Boston. The Big Three turned ancient in front of our eyes, and what followed was a chain reaction of misery that haunted the Celtics for two decades. Len Bias died, Reggie Lewis died, Michael Smith (BYU, not Providence) was a bust, Acie Earl was a bust, Jerome Moiso and Eric Montross were busts, Rick Pitino chose the nuclear option to blow up Causeway Street, Antoine Walker shimmied his way out of town and Vin Baker ripped 40s of OE 800 instead of rebounding.

No franchise that had been as successful as Boston was while racking up its first 16 titles in 40 years has been forced to endure similar heartache. Is it all about to happen again? Get back to us when Pierce counts for $15 million on the cap as a 37-year-old and tell us we were wrong. We hope you’re able to do exactly that, but we doubt it.

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Ramble On Poll Question of the Day

Posted by bdowd625 on June 17, 2010

I’m going to make this real simple on everyone. Tonight is one of those rare nights in sports where a championship – an entire season, really – comes down to one game. So who do you like?

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No Perkins could spell big trouble for Boston

Posted by Bill Koch on June 16, 2010

Kendrick Perkins

Kendrick Perkins will officially be a spectator while the Boston Celtics try to take home Banner 18 at Staples Center on Thursday night against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Doc Rivers waited until today to reveal what we here at Ramble On already knew last night – that Perkins suffered a torn MCL and PCL in his right knee and won’t be available to play in Game 7 on Thursday. It was obvious for all to see when Perkins went down grabbing his right knee with 5:30 to play in the first that this wasn’t a simple sprain. The ABC guys in the broadcast booth finally got something right when they told their audience that Perkins is one of the toughest guys in the NBA and one of the last people who would flop around needlessly while waiting for medical attention. Perkins is facing surgery and several months of rehabilitation to get back to 100 percent, no small task for a guy who came out of high school badly overweight and had to work himself into the current bruiser that he is through hours on the treadmill before and after practice.

Big Baby Davis and – gulp – Rasheed Wallace will have to pick up the slack for Perkins if Boston wants to maintain its perfect 7-0 record in Game 7s of The Finals and its 11-0 record after taking a 3-2 lead in championship series. Let’s hope the two of them are better than they were during a dreadful 89-67 loss in Game 6 in which the Lakers’ reserves outscored the Celtics’ scrubs, 24-0, through the first three quarters while Los Angeles rolled out to a 25-point lead.

Mr. Man Boobs was particularly awful on Tuesday, going 0-for-7 from the field and missing all six of his 3-point attempts. Take it from us here at Ramble On, Rasheed – the reason that you seem to be wide open all the time is the same reason that you and your teammates have been leaving Ron Artest unguarded for most of the series. Everyone knows that you both shoot a terrible percentage from the field and would rather have you trying to score than getting other people involved. Big Baby doesn’t have this problem, because most of his offense comes from putbacks and hustle plays in the lane. The issue with Davis against the long Los Angeles front line is simple – he’s too short to stop Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom from having their way in the paint.

The biggest problem for Boston while trying to compensate for losing Perkins comes in the two areas where championships are won – defense and rebounding. Gasol had his best game of the series in Game 6, finishing one assist shy of a triple double, and a similar performance will spell doom for the Celtics on Thursday. In addition, the team that has won the rebounding battle has won all six games of this series – Los Angeles hammered Boston on the glass, 30-13, in the opening half of Game 6 on its way to victory. The Celtics can’t afford to have the same thing happen on Thursday, or they’ll be missing much more than Perkins going into the offseason.

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Five thoughts from Game 6 of Celtics-Lakers

Posted by Bill Koch on June 15, 2010

Kobe Bryant

Only in the NBA could a team give away a game with a chance to clinch a championship, but that’s exactly what the Boston Celtics did on Tuesday night.

The Los Angeles Lakers forced a Game 7 in the 2010 NBA Finals thanks to an 89-67 victory at Staples Center. Los Angeles was in control from start to finish and now Thursday night will determine which team will celebrate its second championship in three seasons. The Lakers were never threatened and have a chance to benefit from the home court advantage that they worked all season to get by stealing the final two games of the series and becoming the first team to beat Boston in 12 tries after the Celtics gained a 3-2 lead in The Finals. Let’s go to our five thoughts to see how the NBA season has been stretched to its limit.

— Los Angeles didn’t take very long to show how desperate it was to force a deciding game. The Lakers were diving for loose balls, hammering Boston on the glass and suffocating the Celtics on the defensive end. Los Angeles enjoyed a 30-13 advantage on the boards in the first half and set the tone thanks to diving efforts by Jordan Farmar, Derek Fisher and Lamar Odom, noteworthy because Mr. Khloe Kardashian is usually at the front of the line when someone is about to call the Lakers soft. Boston shot a dreadful 33.3 percent from the field after making 56 percent of its shots while winning Game 5.

— Boston could be about to pay the price for its casual approach to the final 54 games of the regular season. All of those losses to the Knicks, Nets and the rest of the league’s bottom feeders that led to a 27-27 finish might be about to bite the Celtics in the ass now that they have to try to win a Game 7 on the road. It’s amazing to think that Boston would even have the balls to go so far as to give away a game in The Finals, but nothing that the Celtics did in Game 6 would suggest otherwise.

— Losing Kendrick Perkins could be a killer blow for Boston’s title chances. Andrew Bynum leaped over Perkins’ back with 5:30 left in the first quarter and the Celtics’ center crashed to the floor clutching his right knee. Our guess? We’ve seen the last of Perkins for at least nine months – we’ll bet he sustained a serious knee injury and won’t be available for Game 7. Perkins does most of the dirty work in the paint and played effective defense against Pau Gasol in each of the last three games, helping Boston to a pair of wins. Gasol capitalized with Perkins out of the lineup by finishing just one assist short of a triple-double in 41 minutes, piling up 17 points, a game-high 13 rebounds and nine assists in Game 6, and the Celtics will need to make a significant adjustment to prevent Gasol from running wild in Game 7.

— The Lakers’ bench completely embarrassed the Celtics in this one. Los Angeles held a 24-0 advantage over Boston’s reserves through the first three quarters while the Lakers were building a 76-51 lead, a total collapse by Big Baby Davis, Rasheed Wallace and the rest of Boston’s backups. Farmar and Shannon Brown played with great energy, minimizing Fisher’s early foul trouble, and Odom chipped in eight points and 10 rebounds in 29 minutes.

— Los Angeles would have taken this situation if you had offered it to them at the start of the series. The Lakers improved to 30-4 in home playoff games since 2008 with their win on Tuesday, including a 10-1 mark this season. Boston owns two of those victories – its miraculous Game 4 comeback in 2008 and its win in Game 2 this year thanks to Ray Allen’s magical shooting night. The Celtics will need to do it again to raise Banner 18 to the rafters at The Fake Garden and improve to 10-2 all-time against Los Angeles in The Finals.

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Five thoughts from Game 5 of Celtics-Lakers

Posted by Bill Koch on June 15, 2010

Paul Pierce

What better way to prepare for a chance to clinch the NBA Finals than thinking about how the Boston Celtics arrived at this point in the first place?

Boston’s 92-86 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday night at The Fake Garden put the Celtics one victory from Banner 18, their second title in three years and eternal damnation of Kobe Bryant’s place in NBA history. Think back to that night while you watch the action unfold in Game 6 with these thoughts in mind:

— Wedding season robbed me of the chance to view this game live, but all you need to know is how I felt when I heard Boston was up by 10 points midway through the fourth quarter. I didn’t feel any urge to check and see if the Celtics would hang on down the stretch – I already knew that they would. Boston’s ability to close out games with the lead and Los Angeles’ toothless displays in the fourth quarter have defined this series.

— Rajon Rondo is one bad little dude, and it has nothing to do with how well he’s played this postseason. Introducing Ron Artest to the basket stanchion in the second quarter after his hard foul on Kevin Garnett and drawing a technical foul was the perfect incident to highlight what sets these two teams apart. Here’s Rondo, the smallest player on the court for the Celtics, defending his teammates and sending Artest, the Queens-bred alleged tough guy who was brought in during the offseason to give Los Angeles some grit, to the ground with one well-timed shove. Rondo’s message was clear – ‘F*** you, Ron, and f*** your teammates while you’re at it. We’re in charge here.’ It’s that same attitude that carried the Celtics to victory over the softer Lakers in the 2008 Finals.

— Boston scored 46 points in the paint on its way to shooting 56 percent in Game 5, a sure sign that the Lakers lacked both the will and the skill to clamp down on the defensive end. Los Angeles relied too much on Kobe Bryant at the offensive end while the Celtics dished out 21 assists on 40 field goals. It’s that team approach that clinched Banner 17 for Boston and we’ve seen it throughout this series as well.

— Paul Pierce was overdue to have a big game this series, and he delivered on Sunday night. The Truth poured in a team-high 27 points and saved the day late in the fourth quarter with a difficult catch on an inbounds play that led to Rondo’s clinching layup. Pierce led four Boston players in double figures – the Lakers had just two in Bryant and Pau Gasol.

— Let’s get back to Bryant to wrap this up. He scored 19 points in the third quarter on his way to a game-high 38. He sunk 3-pointers, fadeaways and attacked the rim. He looked like Michael Jordan did when the NBA’s greatest player poured in 63 in the old Boston Garden for the Chicago Bulls in a 1986 playoff game. Jordan and Bryant both had another thing in common in those two performances – they lost, and it’s not a coincidence. Bryant had just three rebounds and four assists in Game 5, finished at minus-6 in his 44 minutes and allowed the three players that he guarded (Rondo, Pierce and Ray Allen) to shoot 26-for-43 from the field. A word of advice, Kobe – look in the mirror next time when you ask for help on the defensive end. Losing this series will bring Bryant’s record in The Finals without Shaquille O’Neal to 1-3, placing a permanent dent in the claims that he’s a top-5 or top-10 player in league history.

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