Archive for the ‘Boston Celtics’ Category

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Justin Tinsley is a sportswriter who’s written for The Sports Fan Journal and The Smoking Section.

50 years ago this afternoon, perhaps America’s most recognizable speech and march took place in Washington, D.C. Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream Speech” may or may not have been his finest oratory ever — his impassioned, yet physically taxing “mountaintop” speech given the day before his assassination hits home with the same intensity and forward thinking — however, what happened in front of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963, became the focal point of a battle for equality still, in many ways, being fought today.

While King being in attendance is common knowledge, in close proximity was another titan of his own profession: Bill Russell, who stood just feet away from Martin. Ironically, the Celtics icon never figured the speech would be as revered as it is half a century later.

“When I heard the speech, I had no idea that the words of that speech would last as long as they did,” Russell told USA Today in 2011 as he received his Presidential Medal of Freedom. “It never occurred to me it would be quoted 50 years later.”

As a kid born 17 years after Russell’s last season in the NBA, Russell’s humility and sense of self have always hit closest to home. The books and articles I’ve read and the documentaries I’ve watched, they all paint a picture of a man cognizant of himself and the importance of forcing change in the era he lived in. Russell never did anything just to latch on to a moment. Instead, he, like so many other Americans on the front line of the civil rights battle, stood for equality, only to be combated with racial slurs and, even worse, death.

A lot can be made about Russell’s 11 championships and whether or not his era of dominance was “easier” than that of the larger-than-life stars who entered the NBA after him. Topics like that are debatable. What’s not, however, is the impact he had on civil rights. King, Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Medgar Evers, Fred Shuttlesworth and others were faces of the civil rights movement. But Russell’s advocacy — along with guys like Jim Brown, Muhammad Ali and more — was just as imperative.

It mapped out for America that equality didn’t only result from being able to occupy the same bathroom or drink from the same water fountain. Equality was needed in places like basketball courts, too. Russell stood as one of the first celebrities to identify himself as “Black” when “negro” was still the popular term. On multiple occasions, he threatened not to play in games when fellow Black teammates were given inferior accommodations on the road.

Following Boston’s fifth consecutive NBA title and his own third-straight MVP honor, Russell found himself in a fit of rage — Medgar Evers was murdered in his own driveway while getting out of his car on the evening of June 12, 1963. Russell quickly sprung into action.

“Get down here,” Charles Evers, Medgar’s older brother, said to Boston’s superstar. “And we’ll open one of the playgrounds and we’ll have the first integrated basketball camp in Mississippi.” Russell did. With the Ku Klux Klan (including Evers’ killer, Byron De La Beckwith) following his every step, and with Charles barely sleeping while holding a rifle at Russell’s motel door for protection, Russell followed through on his promise.

Two months later, with the image of Evers’ assassination and the ghosts of Mississippi still fresh on his mind, Russell attended the “March On Washington” and even declined an invitation by King himself to stand beside him after meeting him the night before. Not because of any ill will, but because he understood the pain and tears it took to produce an event of this magnitude. ”He invited me to be up here, and I respectfully declined because the organizers had worked for years to get this together, and I hadn’t done anything,” said Russell at the March’s 50th anniversary.

Today, 50 years following a moment that forced America to open its eyes and recognize the bigotry it frequently spewed and potential it had to be more than a divided superpower, Dr. King will receive the bulk of the praise, as he should. He is perhaps the most recognizable American of the past 100 years, a man who had his faults, but gave his own life for a vision still being sought after in 2013. One of Martin’s most powerful and long-lasting quotes reads, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

The NBA and society as a whole is lucky that shoe never fit Bill Russell.

This is the music video for Wild Ones’ “It’s Real,” and if it’s not the strangest NBA-themed music video you’ll ever see, as the title suggests, then it’s at least the only one you’ve ever seen to feature closeups of both Joel Anthony AND Nenad Krstic. Or at least that’s what I’m guessing. Maybe there’s some backup center-obsessed band out there that I haven’t heard about yet. I doubt it, but it’s possible. Either way, still weird.

(via AV Club)

HEADBAND COLLECTION

If you are anything like me, then you have long hair and sweat a lot when you’re playing basketball and therefore wear a headband for logical reasons while also acknowledging that you started wearing one back in high school because a bunch of guys on the early 2000s Trail Blazers were wearing them — Cliff Robinson and Rasheed Wallace, chief among them — and you thought it was cool. Given those similarities between me and you, I’d imagine you’d be as much of a fan of Million Dollar Ballers’ “Headband Collection” of t-shirts that feature some of the league’s most notable current headbanders as I am.

As you probably guessed from the pictures, the shirts feature James Harden, Carmelo Anthony and Rajon Rondo — no, not Paul Pierce, as he’s no longer a Celtic and the shirt doesn’t have an archipelago-ish beard on the face — all of whom have worn headbands throughout their careers. (Well, Rondo is a sometimes guy who occasionally flips his around like it’s Ken Griffey Jr.’s hat, but that’s still better than yet another LeBron James shirt.) They each retail for $35, which is a small price to pay to show how much you love headbanded basketball players. It’s more expensive than buying an NBA headband, sure, but at this point, you probably already own several of those and you’re running out of places to put more terrycloth.

Nonetheless, as a bro who owns a few of these MDB shirts, I can vouch for the actual comfort of the shirt, which is top-notch. But this isn’t The Shirt Fabric Jones, so let’s stick to the players, who look pretty great on these things. I mean, what’s better than walking down the street while wearing something that is pretty much just a beard, a mohawk and a headband? Basically only growing out a giant beard and mohawk, then buying a headband and walking down the street, which would take way longer than simply ordering one of these shirts. Choose wisely.

No wonder your dad loves Larry Bird so much. And no wonder your dad is always trying to throw those tricky passes that aren’t really open but sometimes work. It all makes sense now.

Oh, just my dad? OK, never mind.

(via John Schuhmann)

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With the dust mostly settled on this offseason’s player movement — and there was a whole lot of it this year — it’s time to take stock of all the fascinating new faces in new places, as well as the more compelling stories of players who will face new challenges while sticking around. Over the course of the next few weeks, Andrew Unterberger will do a team-by-team look at the most interesting players going into next season — one new to the team, and one returning — as we all try to pass the dog days of NBA-less summer, dreaming of hoops-filled months to come. The series kicks off today with the teams in the Atlantic Division: the Celtics, Nets, Knicks, 76ers and Raptors.

BOSTON CELTICS

Most Interesting New Player: Kelly Olynyk

Obviously, the Celtics’ offseason was more about the purge of the old than the welcoming of the new, as the departure of franchise-defining players like Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett was balanced by the dudes in this super-depressing picture – hardly an even reconciliation of the team’s ledger in any respect. It’s unlikely that any of the guys received by the Celtics in their mega-blockbuster deal with Brooklyn will be of terrible consequence for the Celtics moving forward, and it wouldn’t be terribly surprising if none of them even ended the season on the C’s roster.

A brutally depressing Boston offseason may have been slightly redeemed, however, with the drafting — well, more so the Summer League play — of Kelly Olynyk. The Gonzaga big man seemed like a minor stretch when Danny Ainge traded with the Mavs to move up in the draft and take him with the 13th pick, but Olynyk made the selection look like a steal with his impressive exhibition play in Orlando, scoring with ease both in the post and from the perimeter, rebounding and passing well, and generally showing a ridiculous feel for the game for a not-even-rookie. Olynyk was one of the stories of the summer’s exhibition season, averaging 18 and 8 on 58 percent shooting, with the name “Dirk” even being invoked on more than one occasion. Suddenly, there was a non-ping-pong-balls-related reason to be excited about the ’14 Celtics.

Of course, the list of Summer League mirages in the NBA is a long and foreboding one — ask Bill Simmons about Kedrick Brown some time (or maybe don’t) — and there’s some legitimate worry about how Olynyk will fare against the size and strength of pro-caliber big men, so it might be prudent to hold off on calling him Canadian Moses right away. Still, after the loss of Pierce and Garnett, Olynyk will undoubtedly be a focus for Celtics fans, hoping that they might have gotten a guy worthy of being included in future Boston Big Threes.

Most Interesting Returning Player: Jeff Green

It’s hard not to go with Rajon Rondo here, since Rondo is never not one of the league’s most interesting players, and will be particularly so next season, coming back from ACL surgery and now all of a sudden being the virtually uncontested Face of the Franchise after spending the last six seasons trying to get out from the Big Three’s shadow. But who knows when Rajon is returning next year, and in the meantime, Jeff Green will be one of the most fascinating case studies in the league, as he gets to be The Guy for the first time in his NBA career.

Lest we forget, Green came alive late last season as a starter for the injury-plagued C’s, averaging over 20 a game (on over 50 percent shooting both from the field and from deep) in 17 starts, and then leading the team in scoring with over 20 a game in their first-round series against the Knicks. And now after six years of overlapping on the depth chart with the likes of Kevin Durant and Paul Pierce, Jeff Green will open the season is Boston as the team’s obvious first scoring option, finally given the chance to be the offensive focal point that other guys have to adjust their games to fit around. He could average 22 a game, push for the All-Star team and solidify himself as a huge key for the team’s future, or he could struggle to score efficiently, serve as an offensive black hole and effectively be the tanking engine for Boston’s 2014 lottery push. Both seem pretty damn plausible at this point.

Either way, this is probably it for Green — after six years of Yeah Buts and Well If Onlys, he basically has no excuse now not to be his awesomest self. If Green disappoints at age 27 on a young team with (eventually, hopefully) one of the league’s best point guards setting him up, he’ll probably never totally live up to expectation. If there’s a bigger make-or-break season for any one player this year, I’m not sure what it is, and I can’t wait to watch to find out which way he goes.

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Do you ever reminisce about the good old days, back when Kris Humphries kept showing up on television all of the time thanks to his relationship with Kim Kardashian? Me neither, but I did like the time Kris told Kim that people won’t remember her in the future. ‘Twas a career highlight for one of the NBA’s biggest bros.

But even if you didn’t follow the ins and outs of Hump’s small screen career, you know that it’s in the past, what with the quickie divorce, beef with Kanye West and trade away from New York. And though no one’s really minded Humphries not being on TV the past few years, he’s making his return this fall. From TVGuide.com, your source for local listings and also apparently NBA news:

Something tells us Kim Kardashian won’t be tuning into The Mindy Project this season.

Her ex-husband, NBA player Kris Humphries, has signed on to guest-star on an upcoming episode of the Fox sophomore comedy, TVGuide.com has learned.

Humphries, 28, will play himself, and joins previously announced guest stars James Franco and Happy Endings‘ Adam Pally.

If this is anything like his Funny or Die sketch or Foot Locker commercial, expect more ridiculing of the douchebag persona he’s built for himself since becoming a Net. That’s kind of been his go-to move ever since the divorce. I assume it’s a coping mechanism. It works.

But hey, no matter how it turns out, this is a power move for Kris Humphries. He’ll soon be joining the likes of Amar’e Stoudemire, Baron Davis and Danny Granger as NBA players who have appeared on “The Mindy Project.” And all of those guys have been All-Stars at some point in their career, which when coupled with the fact that Humphries got this gig on his own rather than having it gifted to him from his wife’s mom, things might be looking up for Hump. A few less naked gun photoshoots and people might actually like him.

Thanks to NBA rules, the huge Garnett-Pierce-Terry to Brooklyn trade can’t become official until July 10. And that means that the people who care most about the trade can’t talk about it for another couple of weeks. That’s why we get things like Nets GM Billy King saying “Mason (Plumlee) gives us a better shot” while giggling when asked if “the events of today made [the Nets] a title contender?”

Jason Kidd was equally smiley in his praise of Plumlee, which wasn’t really about Plumlee.

Between getting drafted, an NBA GM saying his acquisition might make his team a title contender, and one of the best point guards ever saying he was “the best player … at that spot,” this must have been the best day of Mason Plumlee’s life. They say any press is good press, so I guess any compliments are good compliments, even if they come when the people saying them are really trying to talk about something else. When Kevin Garnett is screaming in his face from three inches away, let’s hope young Mason can remember last night. Everyone needs a happy place.