Bird’s Rookie Year — Game 35 vs. the 76ers

Celtics (27-7) vs. 76ers (24-10)
December 22, 1979
The Spectrum

The 76ers sought revenge three days before Christmas.  After the humiliation of a 25-point loss at the Boston Garden just three days prior, the city of Philadelphia couldn’t wait to spread its love to the visiting Celtics at the Spectrum for this 8pm prime time match-up.  Going into the game, the Sixers vowed they would be better prepared.  In the December 22, 1979 publication of the Boston Globe, Bob Ryan spoke with Julius Erving. Continue reading Bird’s Rookie Year — Game 35 vs. the 76ers

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Bird’s Rookie Year — Game 34 vs. the Spurs

Celtics (26-7) vs. Spurs (17-16)
December 21, 1979
Boston Garden

The Celtics continued their hot streak as they hosted the San Antonio Spurs on Friday night at the Garden.  The C’s hit the glass, ran the break, and moved the ball exceptionally well in a lopsided 133-114 victory.  The win marked the 27th victory for the Celtics, and improved their winning streak to seven games. Continue reading Bird’s Rookie Year — Game 34 vs. the Spurs

Sully Still Hates Belichick, And More Friday Media Items

With the news that columnist Brian McGrory will become the new editor of the Boston Globe, some might wonder whether any changes would be forthcoming in the sports department. I doubt it. Based on some of the truly atrocious columns McGrory penned about the Red Sox, I think we can be confident that the sports department will remain as it is.

What it is is a place where the head of the department is eager to air his grievances about Bill Belichick and the Patriots to anyone who might come calling.

In a feature on Oregon Head Coach, (and NH’s own) Chip Kelly, in a publication from Portland Oregon, there is this passage:

Belichick has prowled the sidelines in a beat-up gray hoodie for the past 13 years with the Patriots, a permanent scowl fixed on his face. He doesn’t release injury reports beyond what is required. He is not popular with the Boston-area media.

“He’s uncooperative and downright rude unless he’s talking about the history of the NFL and football,” Joe Sullivan, assistant managing sports editor for The Boston Globe, wrote WW in an email.

Typical. Sullivan’s antics, from filing a complaint with the NFL over media access to his churlish, unprofessional and childish comments about them to shaping his staff coverage in a slanted way, have been well documented here.

The professionals on the beat have little or no issue with how Belichick handles things with them. For the most part, they understand it’s how things are going to be, and have accepted it, and work with it.

Only the entitled self-styled elites continue to complain about it. Joe Sullivan, easily one of BSMW’s least-favorite figures in the Boston sports media world, leads the charge.

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Speaking of brave journalism at the Globe, congratulations to Sully’s star pupil Dan Shaughnessy for making The Atlantic’s list of The 50 Worst Columns of 2012. Not just sports columns. Any column.

You remember the one, about the bloodthirsty bloggers being responsible for all that is evil in the world? Yeah, that’s the one, though, I’d only put that one in the top five of Dan’s worst columns of 2012. Maybe I should make a proper list. Hmmm.

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It’s been interesting hearing the contract between WEEI and WBZ-FM over the last week. For the most part, The Sports Hub has stayed on mission – whatever mission each show generally takes, the morning show is still goofy, and makes awkward attempts to talk sports, middays remain bombastic and mostly Patriots-centric and Felger and Mazz are who they are. There have been a few references to the murders of the innocent children in Newtown, but for the most part, they’ve stayed their course.

It’s has been a sharp contrast at WEEI, where the staff have always fancied themselves social commentators. At times, entire shows have gone by without a mention of sports, and Dale Arnold has led this charge. I have no doubt whatsoever that Dale is 100% sincere in what he’s doing. I don’t know however, what the right balance here is.

I’ve made the case before that for me, if I want news and social commentary, I turn to outlets that specialize in those discussions. Sports radio is an escape from that, an escape from the “real world” issues. Or at least that’s how I view it.

Last Friday, like most people, I spent most of the day and afternoon looking and listening for updates on what had happened in Newtown. I went to the news outlets. I wasn’t interested in what the sports people had to say, much like I have no interest when Brian McGrory writes about the Red Sox.

When I got into my car in the late afternoon, it was almost a relief, a comfort to hear Tony Massarotti screeching angrily at “delusional” Patriots fans. It was a break from what was happening.

Felger and Mazz,  I thought, handled it well. Each hour they made sure to acknowledge the situation and provide a quick update or thought, but then went back to what they do best.

It is good to have options here in sports radio listening. Some, I’m sure want to hear Dale and his viewpoint. Others want an escape. We got both.

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ESPN suspended First Take commentator Rob Parker for 30 days yesterday for his comments about Robert Griffin III.

I’m not sure that ESPN even realizes that they breed their own problems. By having ridiculous shows like First Take, which encourage participants to take outlandish stands and attempt to one-up each other in these contrived discussions, eventually people are going to say things which are not only stupid, but offensive. It’s hard to out-stupid Skip Bayless, but apparently that doesn’t stop people from trying.

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The news that Adam Jones has been hired to replace Damon Amedolara on the 98.5 evening show was met here with tepidness. Jones is a capable host, but he is also straight from the school of Mike Felger radio, having literally learned the trade at the knee of Felger. If you like Felger’s style, and many many do, then you’re going to enjoy Jones. The show can will pretty much be an extension of the afternoon show.

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It’s the Winter season on ‘Dennis & Callahan Morning Show’ – Bill Doyle has a look at Kevin Winter’s early contributions to the WEEI morning program. The ending paragraph where Callahan talks about Jon Meterparel doesn’t sound insincere at all…

Callahan said he hasn’t heard from Meterparel since he left.

“I knew I wouldn’t,” Callahan said. “He’s not the type. He just disappears. That’s the way he is. I hope he’s making some progress finding his dream job of doing play-by-play for the Toledo Mud Hens or whatever.”

Sean McDonough recovering from scary surgery – Chad Finn provides an update on the ESPN broadcaster and former Red Sox voice.

Pierce, Celtics get past Cavs

Although it wasn’t their best performance, the Celtics were able to get past the Cleveland Cavaliers 103-91 at the TD Garden. Despite the win, there shouldn’t be much stock put into it as the Cavs came into the game with just five wins on the year. Paul Pierced led the charge with a season-high 40 points. Pierce also added eight rebounds and five assists. Rajon Rondo added 20 points and eight assists in the win. With the win the Celtics improve to 13-12 on the year.

The big news of the day came off the court when Doc Rivers announced a change in the starting lineup. Kevin Garnett would move from his usual center spot to his natural position of power forward, meaning Jason Collins would now start with Brandon Bass coming off the bench. Also, Jason Terry will now replace Courtney Lee. It was a move Rivers needed to make in an effort to change things up after losing their third straight game Tuesday night.

Paul Pierce scores 40 vs. Cavaliers- Amalie Benjamin looks at just how good Pierce’s performance was.

No fooling Paul Pierce, C’s– Mark Murphy gives his take on Pierce’s night.

Paul Pierce shaper than ever– Chris Forsberg says this was one of Pierce’s all-tie best.

Captain Pierce leads the way– A. Sherrod Blakely has Pierces stepping up as a captain when his team needed him most.

Wilcox sits vs. Cavaliers, stays positive– Jessica Camerato has Wilcox’ reaction to not playing at all due to the lineup shift.

The Red Sox formally announced the signing of Ryan Dempster at a press conference Wednesday afternoon. Although it may seem like a minor signing, Dempster could be a very nice addition to the back end of the starting rotation next season.

Ryan Dempster adds leadership and character to Red Sox rotation– Nick Cafardo looks at what Dempster brings to the table.

Ryan Dempster delivers– Michael Silverman says innings pitched will be very important for the Red Sox’ newest pitcher.

Ryan Dempster, Sox seek rising tide– Gordon Edes looks back at the 36-year-olds career and what he brings to the Red Sox.

Searching (hard) for how the Jaguars could beat the Patriots– DJ Bean tries to find a way for the Jaguars to beat the Patriots this coming Sunday.

Bird’s Rookie Year — Game 33 vs. the 76ers

Celtics (25-7) vs. 76ers (23-9)
December 19, 1979
Boston Garden

If the Celtics ever made a statement game in December, then this was the one.

And really, was there any doubt the Celtics would lose game #33 of this season?

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“You can call it a glamour game if you like,”  Celtics coach Bill Fitch told Larry Whiteside in the Boston Globe’s game preview.  “I don’t think crucial is the right word.  Not this early in the season.  It’s a very important game, but no matter what happens, we will still be in first place…”

The game, which was not televised but heard locally on WBZ Radio, packed a capacity crowd of 15,320 to see the Celtics hammer the Sixers and eradicate a few demons in the process.

There is a purpose to what these Boston Celtics are doing this year, Leight Montville wrote in the December 20, 1979 edition of the Globe. found in the Boston Globe Archive access.  They are not just playing a random 82-game set of basketball games, are they?  They are settling scores.

Somewhere in the back of their minds, or folded up and kept in the secret compartments of their wallets, there is a tattered and oft-handled list that was compiled during two long years of trouble.  All the names and all the numbers are on the list.  All the transgressions, real and imagined.  All the humiliations.  Somewhere there is this list and now, one by one, the names and numbers and embarrassments are being checked off.

The Bullets … the San Antonio Spurs … the Atlanta Hawks … the screamers behind the bench in New York… the yahoos in Houston … Elvin, EEEEEEEEE, Hayes … Larry, Dr. K., Kenon … Don Nelson and the Milwaukee Bucks.  One by one.  One after another.  Night after night.

And now … the biggest one of all.  The Philadelphia 76ers.

Philly suffered a setback with the loss of Doug Collins with a stress fracture of the right foot and a bone spur on his right ankle a week prior in back-to-backs with the Hawks (a surprising 4-0 so far against Philly).  Julius Erving, who dropped a line of 37/10/8 on the Celtics in their first meeting, was held to 20 points on this evening at the Garden, and the Celtics defense was not intimidated by brute forward Darryl Dawkins.

Darryl-Dawkins

And so we give you Boston 112, Philadelphia 89, wrote Bob Ryan in the 12/20/79 Globe.  We give you 15,320 stomping, roaring, cheering fans who, on a night of countless ovations, saved their biggest for Jeff Judkins when took a pass on a fast break, dribbled backward into the right corner and swished a three-point jumper to give the Celtics a 108-81 lead with 3:12 left.   As his coach frantically signaled for timeout.  It is ever thus for these star-struck athletes.  Were a Celtic to throw a brick through a department-store window at high noon on Washington Street, he undoubtedly would be given a civic citation.  The Celtics have won six straight.  They have a three-game lead over the 76ers.  They can do no wrong.

The Bird Era had officially begun.

“People can’t keep us down,” Chris Ford told Bob Ryan.  “Not as a unit, anyway.”

What the Celtics did to their chief divisional rivals was keep the visitors from getting inside, take care of themselves on the backboards (even winning the second-chance point battle, 10-8) and then run like hell.

With the defense sagging masterfully on the cold-shooting 76ers, and with the Celtics connecting on 1 of their first 16 second-quarter shots en route to a 38-point period (18 on the fast break), Boston expanded a shaky 22-18 one-quarter advantage into such comfortable margins as 37-20, 44-26 and 56-35 in the second period.

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Leigh Montville’s column added to the excitement of the Celtics’ rebirth.

How many sad nights had the Celtics spent with these same Sixers in the two woebegone years?  How many cruises had they seen by the Good Doctor, the estimable Mr. Julius Erving from the University of Massachusetts?  How big had the manchild, Dr. Dunkenstein, Darryl Dawkins seemed?  How far away had the greatest rivalry in the NBA slipped, the Sixers off to division championships and folderol, the Celtics off to dark places and quiet conversation?

“I’d have had to have been very skeptical about it, don’t you think?” Cedric Maxwell replied.  “I mean, we were looking forward, but this … this is just a plus, everybody coming together this way.  All the turmoil, all the animosity of those two years are gone.  It’s just beautiful.”

The tune that the Celtics did on the Sixers last night at the Garden was nothing less than the answer to one of their fans’ most wild dreams for two long years.  The Celtics didn’t just beat the Sixers, 112-89, last night.  The Celtics humiliated the Sixers, 112-89.

Philadelphia.  Check.  The rivalry has been born again.

The Celtics returned to action by hosting the Spurs on Friday, and then a quick return bout in Philly on Saturday.

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More Patriots-49ers reaction

In what was one of the weirdest, craziest, wildest, and longest game of the year, the Patriots eventually fell to the 49ers 41-34. With the loss the Patriots will likely be the AFC’s No. 3 seed, meaning they will be forced to play on Wild Card weekend and then pending a victory would likely play at No. 2 seed Denver. Much of the sports media and radio airwaves focused on that potential matchup today, and whether or not the Patriots could make it to New Orleans playing two road games. Also, there were the usual day after a loss over-reactions on a number of players and performances.

Other topics looking back at the game included whether or not the loss could be looked at as a positive and a way to to improve upon things going into the playoffs. While the Patriots certainly showed a lot of heart and desire coming back from a 28-point deficit, you certainly would hope and expect they will would never be put in that situation again. Reports from the stadium following the game was that it was a very angry locker room so I wouldn’t want to be the Jacksonville Jaguars this week, the Patriots have some anger to be unleashed.

For full Patriots coverage, visit Patriotslinks.com.

New England loses grip on No. 2 seed in AFC– Shalise Manza Young looks at the Patriots chances as the No.3 seed, and having to play on Wild Card weekend.

Patriots got what they deserved vs. 49ers– Tony Massarotti says San Francisco was the better team Sunday night and deserved to win.

Patriots lost but showed there’s no stopping Tom Brady and Co.– Gerry Callahan has despite the loss he still believes they are the best team in the AFC.

Patriots report card– Ron Borges hands out his grades for the week, most of them fairly average.

Kick team gets the boot– Jeff Howe looks at the Patriots special teams units, who were uncharacteristically poor on Sunday.

Belichick: I thought they fought hard– Tom E. Curran has Belichick’s thoughts following the game.

Early Miscues Cost Patriots Dearly

The Patriots likely cost themselves a first-round bye last night, and appears that they set themselves a date to play in Denver for the Divisional round.

In a sloppy game in which the California team was taking advantage of miscues in the wet cold weather, the Patriots found themselves trailing 31-3 midway through the third quarter. One score coming from old friend Randy Moss. The Patriots were the ones turning the ball over and the 49ers were capitalizing. Unlike some of their opponents this season, however New England didn’t just fold up shop and call it a day. They scored four touchdowns in a row to tie the game midway through the fourth quarter, but the Patriots special teams gave up a long kickoff return, and a one-play touchdown drive pretty much killed the momentum for New England. There are no moral victories in the NFL, as Ron Borges gleefully reminds us this morning. (Sorry Ronnie, no link for you. You either, Jackie.)

The loss puts New England behind Denver in the AFC playoff race for the number two seed, and with two layups on the schedule for the Broncos, it appears a first round bye is out of reach for the Patriots. If they’re going to go to New Orleans, they’re going to need to hit the road to do it.

Patriots angry at themselves after loss to 49ers – Tom E Curran has an angry Patriots locker room following the game.

What we learned: If Sunday was prelude to Super matchup, Patriots have work to do – Christopher Price says that despite the loss, the Patriots have a few things they can hang their hat on for a potential rematch.

Patriots’ offense at best, worst – Mike Reiss says that the team’s second half resurgence is hollow without the victory.

Hopefully a lesson learned for Patriots defense – Greg A Bedard says that this was a much-needed reality check for the Patriots, and they’ll be better for it in the long run.

MONDAY MORNING QB – Peter King’s crush on Roger Goodell is downright embarrassing at this point.

Check all the other Patriots stories today at Patriotslinks.com.

A few other links this morning:

Adam Jones to be new evening host on The Sports Hub – From the weekend, Chad Finn’s report that Jones has been chosen to replace Damon Amendolara. For those who love Felger, you’ll love Jones. The evening show will basically be a continuation of the afternoon show now.

Sox add Stephen Drew on 1-yr deal – The Red Sox have apparently added the former A’s and Diamondback shortstop, continuing their pattern of veteran offseason signings.

J.D. Drew can feel Mike Napoli’s pain – Rob Bradford talks to Stephen’s big brother J.D. about the delay in finalizing Napoli’s contract, a situation that is very similar to his own when he sign with Boston.

Celtics need everybody to contribute or the season could be lost – Gary Washburn with a strong look at the Celtics struggles, with a lot aimed at the disappointing season of Courtney Lee thus far.