Bird’s Rookie Year — Game 53 vs. the Bullets

Celtics (39-13) vs. Washington (23-28)
January 31, 1980
Capital Centre

The Celtics ended the first half of the season by embarrassing the back-to-back defending Eastern Conference champions on their home floor.  The NBA landscape was changing: the Celtics had replaced the Bullets as one of the East’s top two teams, and the second half of the season would provide the Lakers with the same opportunity to replace Seattle as the premiere team in the West.

Larry Bird led the Celtics in their 119-103 victory with 24 points, 13 rebounds, and 5 assists.  After allowing the Bullets to push them around a week earlier at the Garden, the Celtics responded by amplifying their intense and physicality.  The Celtics won the battle of the boards, 47-38.  Another key for the C’s was the play of Eric Fernstern, who appeared to be on the cutting block the moment Pete Maravich was ready to play.  Fernstern, as Bob Ryan noted in the Globe, made his teammates proud with this performance: Continue reading “Bird’s Rookie Year — Game 53 vs. the Bullets”


Bird’s Rookie Year — Game 52 vs. the Cavaliers

Celtics (38-13) vs. Cleveland (23-31)
January 30, 1980
Boston Garden

Bill Fitch must have been happy to be coaching on the home bench for this one.

The Celtics returned to the Boston Garden to defeat the Cavs in their final home game before the All Star break.  After defeating the Bulls the night before, the Celtics traveled back home win and outscored Cleveland, 110-103.  The win marked the 39th victory of the season, which was already ten more than Boston compiled the entire prior season.

Larry Bird and Cedric Maxwell each led the way with 21 points, and Bird added 15 rebounds.  As the Green still waited for Dave Cowens’ injured foot to heal, Rick Robey added 16 and 11, and the Celtics continued to move the ball extremely well.  The starting five dished out 18 assists, and the C’s used a big fourth quarter to close out Fitch’s former club. Continue reading “Bird’s Rookie Year — Game 52 vs. the Cavaliers”

Game 2 without Rondo, Celtics top Kings

The Celtics played their second game without Rajon Rondo and played quite well in their dominant 18-point, 99-81 win over the Sacramento Kings at the TD Garden Wednesday night. It was an extremely balanced attack, with six players reaching double-figures led by Paul Pierce with 16 points. One negative was rookie Jared Sullinger left the game in the first quarter and did not return due to back spasms.

Overall, it was a very impressive performance, granted it was against the Kings and they shot over 50 percent from the floor. It will be interesting to see how long this will be able to keep up as Pierce and Kevin Garnett can’t play big minutes night in and night out and then expect to be at full strength for the playoffs. They will need to get contributions from everyone, like they did on Wednesday night for them to make any run late in the year and potentially win a playoff series.

Up tempo style works for C’s– Baxter Holmes has getting up and down the court quick, and looking to run was one of the ways the team overcame Rondo.

Running without Rajon Rondo– Steve Bulpett also has how pushing the tempo was one of the main keys for the Celtics.

Bradley-Lee backcourt trumps Kings– Chris Forsberg says Avery Bradley and Courtney Lee stepped up big in the win.

You don’t want Demarcus Cousins on the Celtics– Ben Rohrbach has after seeing Cousins play Wednesday night, Celtics fans should not want the team to make a move for him.

Victory of Kings gives Celtics winning blueprint– A. Sherrod Blakely looks at how the team played Wednesday is how they will need to play most of the games the rest of the season as they try and win without Rondo.

A lot of discussion the past few days in the sports media world has been about the article in Boston Magazine for their February edition which came out earlier this week, which was critical of the state of the Boston sports media. The author, Alan Siegal, did a podcast with WEEI’s Kirk Minihane on Tuesday and it is a must listen as Minihane did a fantastic job of challenging Siegal on the points he brought up in the piece.

Bruins Undefeated? No, Lets Talk Sausage

The Bruins remained undefeated on the young season, improving to 5-0-1 with a 2-1 shootout win over the New Jersey Devils last night at the Garden.

While that should be enough of a talking point, a certain morning show was more obsessed instead with a sausage that was thrown onto the ice during the shootout. Not so much that it forced a do-over of a shot, but about the sausage itself. Analysis of the “foreskin” of the sausage was included in the talk. Yeah.  Other shows have focused on the actual game which is a nice change.

A few other odds and ends:

The notion that the Celtics are somehow more “likeable” without Rajon Rondo kind of blows my mind, as does the idea that getting triple-doubles is in any way selfish. While the Celtics may find a way to adapt without Rondo, in no way will they be better or more likeable without him. The team has struggled mightily thus far this season, and if they improve over the second half of the season, – which I still expect – it won’t be because Rondo is out.

Rondo has become the whipping boy on the Celtics by certain sports radio hosts. Much like Randy Moss or Josh Beckett, Rondo is often defiant, prickly and uncooperative with the media. That’s what it boils down to. If a fan is turned off by Rondo’s attitude, they’re either influenced heavily by the Felgers of the world, or they just dislike him, and use “attitude” as their reason. I’ve come to love his attitude, which is fearless and headstrong, not willing to suffer fools gladly.

Speaking of Randy Moss, I always enjoyed his media sessions. It was great to see and hear him yesterday at Super Bowl media day, and he is the biggest reason while I’ll be rooting for the 49ers on Sunday. (Well, that and keeping peace with my Bay Area family) He proclaimed himself the greatest receiver to ever play the game, (which is a stretch, but I can see his case) and expressed regret over how things ended here in New England.

In fact, if you’re going to compare Rajon Rondo to another athlete, it might be Randy Moss. Both are freaks of nature who can do (or did) things you never saw before, and someone who you can’t take your eyes off of when they either play or speak. They both are incredibly intelligent players and people who have had a testy relationship with the press, and who have been lauded by their teammates as great teammates and leaders, but blasted by the media who can’t fathom such a notion based on their own limited personal dealings with them. Both will speak their mind without regard for consequences, which isn’t always a great thing, but another example of their mindset.

Marshall Faulk: ‘I’ll never be over being cheated out of Super Bowl’ – Tom E Curran poked the former Rams running back with a stick, and he responded.

The Boston Magazine column from Monday has generated plenty of discussion and reaction from the media, many not happy with the portrayal of things. Some, predictably, missed the point, which was largely that we’ve had pretty much the same major voices around here for years and years, and those stale voices have blocked the emergence of some fresher, younger voices, who have then been “poached” by national or out-of-town gigs.

Others have argued that the media is really just a reflection of the fans, and is giving them what they want, meaning that Boston fans as a group are a bunch of whiny, cynical negative people who don’t get an ounce of joy from sports, but instead use it as an outlet to rant and criticize in an attempt to make them feel better about themselves.

OK, so maybe there are some like that out there. I know some. Are the majority this way? If there was a block of programming that was smart, insightful and without the usual snark would it be popular? The problem is that while many people would enjoy such programming, they likely would not react to it, which is one of the only ways that the producers of content can gauge whether their content is being paid attention to. By going to extremes the other way, they get the reaction, even if it is negative, so they know people are paying attention. Negative reaction is better than no reaction…or so they reason.

There are times I enjoy negative commentary. The last couple of seasons, the Red Sox have angered me as a fan, and there have been times I’ve enjoyed the biting commentary on them. The negativity is justified. But what about when things are going well?

It almost seems like an issue of insecurity. There don’t seem to be a lot of people secure enough in their abilities to just produce solid content that is void of controversy, and let it stand on its own. They need to know it is being consumed.

The feature really just scratched the surface. This is a subject that can be discussed without end.

Bruins continue hot start, more Rondo reaction

The Boston Bruins continued their hot start to begin the shortened season with a 5-3 win in Carolina against the Hurricanes Monday night. David Krejci scored with less than two minutes remaining in regulation off of a beautiful feed from Dougie Hamilton to put the Bruins on top, and then Tyler Seguin added an empty netter to seal the win.

With the Bruins playing four games in six days, backup goaltender Anton Khudobin got his first start of the year and played quite well, finishing with 29 saves. The team is back in action tonight when they host the New Jersey Devils at TD Garden.

Dougie Hamilton to become full-time NHL’er with Bruins– Fluto Shinzawa in his notebook has general manager Peter Chiareli’s announcement that the rookie defenseman will be staying in the NHL all year, which was no surprise to anyone.

Bruins weather storm– Stephen Harris has the Bruins staying tough, after giving up 2-0 and 3-1 leads, to defeat Carolina on the road.

Khudobin strong in winning effort– Joe Haggerty looks at the Bruins goaltender’s performance, who provided solid goaltending giving starter Tuukka Rask a night off.

More of the same as David Krejci’s line comes up big– DJ Bean has the line of Krejci-Seguin-Nathan Horton providing most of the offense Monday night.

The Rajon Rondo story continues to dominate the airwaves and internet, with people fairly split on what to think. Some people feel the team might actually be better without the star point guard, while others feel this is a good time for Danny Ainge to “blow” the team up and make a deal for the future. It seems Doc Rivers wants and feels like he can make a run with the players he has now, but ultimately Ainge, the GM, will have the final say. Most reports say not to expect a major trade.

Personally, the Celtics may actually be a more likable team now. Many people were turned off by Rondo’s attitude and prefer to see the “grit and balls”, “bar fight” mentality from Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Co. The team may even be a better regular season team without Rondo (the stats back it up), but it’s very hard to see the team being able to win a seven game playoff series against some of the dominant teams in the East. Even without Rondo, it will still be an interesting team to watch the rest of the season to see how Garnett and Pierce respond, and how the team fairs without their point guard.

Here are a few more stories, which weren’t noted yesterday:

Time for the Celtics to trade Paul Pierce– Kirk Minihane says it’s time to trade the Celtics long-time captain.

Rondo’s injury hits hard– Jackie MacMullan with a must-read first hand account of her experience on Sunday at the Garden.

Rondo debate rages on– Tony Massarotti gives his thoughts on the situation.

Rajon Rondo and the Celtics’ reality– Chad Finn says the rest of the season won’t be as fun without Rondo as it would have been with him.

Senior Bowl Patriots Prospects

The following eight players caught our eye at this year’s Senior Bowl this past Saturday.

Ezekial Ansah, BYU DE (6-5, 270). The Ghanaian Go-getter stood out in the Senior Bowl with a persistent pass rush (1.5 sacks, forced fumble) and an eye-bulging ability to chase down runners. Kept the broadcasters focused on him throughout the game with several individual plays (seven overall tackles). Has only played football since 2010, so scouts slobber over his potential.

Kawann Short, Purdue DL (6-3, 315). Short by name, huge on talent, this Boilermaker provided consistent pressure up the middle and seemed unblockable at times, earning the North’s Most Outstanding Player honors. Can play in a 3-4 or 4-3 alignment and would instantly provide a stout presence in the middle – where the Patriots lacked depth this season. Had 14.5 tackles for loss this past year.

Desmond Trufant, Washington DB (6-0, 186). This consensus first-rounder seems ready to step up to the next level, showing strength and quickness while also displaying a strong field sense. Began the Senior Bowl with one of its most impressive plays, chasing down speedster Robert Alford on the opening kickoff to save a TD.

Larry Warford, Kentucky OL (6-3, 333). Warford made the highlight reel several times, most notably on a pancake block during the South’s ultimate touchdown drive. A mauler who could add strength and depth to the Patriots’ interior offensive line.

Brian Schwenke, California OL (6-4, 300). Playing for the South (go figure), Schwenke demonstrated the type of versatility Coach Bill Belichick covets by playing left guard on one TD drive and then center on another. He showed quick feet and solid leverage on several plays.

Conner Vernon, Duke WR (6-1, 200). Whatever Vernon lacks in straight line speed, he makes up in route precision. The Blue Devil caught four passes for 36 yards in the Senior Bowl and looked like one of the afternoon’s most consistent receivers. That makes sense, as he set the ACC record for career receptions. Also stood out as a perimeter blocker.

Marquise Goodwin, Texas WR (5-9, 180). Goodwin failed to produce big numbers at Texas (26 catches, 340 yards). But, playing for the North (again, go figure) his five receptions for 44 yards led all receivers. Throw in 30 yards on two punt returns, and you can color us intrigued. A world-class athlete who made it to the London Olympics for the long jump, Goodwin has the speed and quickness to extend short passes into long gains.

E. J. Manuel, Florida State QB (6-4, 240). The best, most consistent QB at the Senior Bowl, it was no coincidence the South’s three TDs happened with him under center. Manuel earned South team Most Outstanding Player honors, completing seven of 10 passes and one TD while running for another. While New England may want to avoid drafting a quarterback too high, Manuel has the athleticism and poise to instill any team with confidence in the backup position.

Any players you saw on Saturday that caught your interest, please let us know in the comment section below.

You can email Chris Warner notes of praise and/or haikus at


“The Fellowship of the Miserable” – A Boston Magazine Feature on Sports Media

You’ll recall that last year, Alan Siegal wrote a feature for Boston Magazine on 98.5 The SportsHub morning team Toucher and Rich.

Siegal, who has also written for Deadspin among other publications, is back in the pages of Boston Magazine this month with a feature entitled The Fellowship of the Miserable.  The introduction for it goes like this:

Whiny, petulant, entitled, self-important—no, it’s not Boston fans we’re talking about, it’s Boston sportswriters. How did the sports media in this town, once the envy of the nation, become so awful?

The piece focuses on how far the local media has fallen in terms of being beaten regularly by the national media on local stories, (The Jeff Passan piece on the Red Sox last summer, and Adrian Wojnarowski on the much of the Ray Allen stuff with the Celtics) and by non-beat reporters on other pieces (he reports that then-Globe publisher Marty Baron was the one who initiated what became the Bob Hohler “beer and fried chicken” column following the 2011 season, not sports editor Joe Sullivan) and why they seem to be getting worse and worse on the rest of the stuff. Dan Shaughnessy is among those dinosaurs who are targeted in the feature.

 To put it bluntly, “The Lodge”—as Fred Toucher, cohost of the 98.5 The Sports Hub morning radio show, mockingly refers to the city’s clubby, self-important media establishment—is clogged with stale reporters, crotchety columnists, and shameless blowhards. Their canned “hot sports takes” have found a home on local television and talk radio, but do little but suck the fun out of a topic that’s supposed to be just that. And we haven’t even gotten to Dan Shaughnessy yet.

If you’re a sports media junkie, it’s a must-read. And yes, I am quoted in it.

Rondo Injury Sparks Many Different Reactions

The Celtics received the devastating news yesterday that point guard Rajon Rondo will be out for the rest of the season after suffering a torn ACL in the double-overtime loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night.

How the news was disseminated yesterday was interesting to follow, as social media reports early in the afternoon suggested it could be a a torn ACL, and Sean Grande on the Celtics radio broadcast was among the first on the air to report the news.(The Celtics put it on Twitter around 3:15.) Behind the scenes, Jackie MacMullan recounts how she was the one who told Rondo that people were speculating the ACL was torn, before he even got the official word on it. She then told Dwyane Wade, who took it back to the Miami bench. It appears the Heat knew before the Celtics did.

Doris Burke of ABC/ESPN broke the news to a visibly distraught Paul Pierce following the game. Doc Rivers said he told his team about the injury after the game, though he knew before the game that Rondo was likely done for the season.

Callers and texters to 98.5 during the game (and WEEI this morning) celebrated the injury, a pattern that is sure to continue with the hosts today. While Felger and Mazz are in New Orleans for the Super Bowl this week, you can bet they’ll be gleeful over the injury. It’s a contrast to the reaction of teammates and opponents around the league alike, many of whom (including Kobe Bryant) expressed their affection and respect for Rondo.

You’ll hear the phrase “blowing it up” a ton in the coming days and weeks, and armchair GMs, fan and media alike will be advocating getting rid of anyone, including Pierce and Kevin Garnett. (They can’t get anything for them.)  A few might insist that the team might get better without Rondo and all his “selfish” assists.

A few other thoughts on the short and long-term future of the Celtics.

Rondo’s done, and so are the Celtics – When a guy I like and respect as much as Steve Bulpett is writing this, I know things can’t be good.

Rajon Rondo injury clouds Celtics future – Chris Gasper manages to work in references to the deaths of Reggie Lewis and Len Bias when discussing what this injury means to the Celtics.

Celtics forced to look for options in wake of Rondo’s injury – A. Sherrod Blakely thinks that the Celtics will be at least considering a look at Delonte West.

Where do Celtics go from here? – Ben Rohrbach thinks that the Celtics will either be the latest example of the Ewing Theory, or that this injury will be what finally killed the heart of champion.

Doc Rivers, Celtics not packing it in – Chris Forsberg has the Celtics feeling that they can still make a run in the East.

Bird’s Rookie Year — Game 50 vs. the Clippers

Celtics (36-13) vs. San Diego (27-28)
January 27, 1980
Boston Garden

Larry Bird exploded for 36 points — a new career high — as the Celtics regained their edge at the Garden and sent the Clippers away with their sixth straight loss by defeating San Diego, 131-108.  Bird added seven rebounds, three assists, and three steals.

The Celtics controlled the boards, out-rebounding the Clippers, 55-38.  Rick Robey fought through a pulled groin muscle to deliver 23 points and 14 rebounds, and Cedric Maxwell added 13 boards.  Though the Celtics committed four more turnovers than SD, it was a product of their passing.  Led by Tiny Archibald’s nine assists, the Celtics compiled 14 more assists than the Clippers.  Bob Ryan of the Boston Globe captured the connection the Celtics’ fans had for their team: Continue reading “Bird’s Rookie Year — Game 50 vs. the Clippers”