Searching For The Next David Givens

In 2002, the Patriots selected receiver Deion Branch in the second round. The Louisville product became Tom Brady’s go-to pass-catcher and earned a Super Bowl MVP trophy after New England beat Philadelphia in February 2005.

Many fans forget that Branch had company in the draft that year: seventh-rounder David Givens out of Notre Dame. During his rookie season, Givens had nine receptions for 92 yards and one touchdown. Over the next three years, he totaled 157 grabs for over 2,226 yards and 11 TDs.  Givens caught a touchdown pass in all six games of New England’s 2003-2004 playoff run and remains the all-time team leader for playoff TD receptions with seven.

david-givensIn 2009, the Patriots selected Julian Edelman in the seventh round. In 2012, also in the seventh, they took Northwestern receiver Jeremy Ebert. As New England continues to revamp their wide receiver corps, they should consider taking on another late-round, developmental pick.

Drew Terrell of Stanford, DeVonte Christopher of Utah, Jason Thompson of New Haven and Marlon Brown of Georgia all find themselves closer to the bottom of draft boards than the top for various reasons. Yet each has something to contribute, and all are hoping for the opportunity to demonstrate it.

Overshadowed

At 5-foot-11, 180 pounds, Terrell could walk across campus without attracting attention. Sometimes this seemed to happen on the field as well. Despite having his best season as a senior and leading all Stanford wide receivers in catches, he came in third after tight end Zach Ertz (a first-round prospect) and running back Stepfan Taylor (rated a mid-round pick).

For his part, Terrell had no complaints, especially when his ultimate season output (33 receptions, 463 yards, 14.0 yard per catch) dwarfed that of his junior year (eight catches).

“I knew going into my senior year, my role in the offense would greatly increase,” Terrell said. “I knew that it was pretty much my time. My first three years, I was waiting for my time. My senior year, it came around, the opportunity presented itself, and I fully embraced it … That was the main thing, for me to be patient and wait my turn. I always knew that when I got the opportunity, given plays, that I would make plays.”

Because of the structure of Stanford’s offense, however, Terrell never set his expectations too high. “I thought my role would be as a leader of the wide receiver group, a guy who could be a game-changer catching the football as well as returning punts. I knew that this offense at Stanford was more catered to the running game and distributing the ball to our tight ends. That’s how it’s been since I’ve been here, so I knew that going in, but I just wanted to make the most of the opportunities that I’ve been given.”

Terrell primed himself for success by taking on a specific niche on the team, both as a go-to guy for a first down and as a punt returner.

“I knew that I could move the chains on third down and create separation. I knew that going in. I kind of anticipated that we would run the football a lot like we always do and throw the ball to our tight ends. I think I had an idea of my role and I just tried to embrace it.”

Disappointed

Devonte Christopher had certain expectations when he agreed to go to Utah. A 5-7 record his senior year wasn’t one of them. Neither was ending up as a wide receiver.

Christopher played quarterback at Canyon Springs High School in Las Vegas. His prolific senior season included three games with six passing touchdowns each. He said that he was a quarterback all his life, with the exception of part of his junior year in high school when the team needed him at receiver.

In fact, Christopher chose Utah because, “They were offering me the opportunity to come in and play quarterback. You know, I had offers from other schools – Big 12, schools in the Pac-10 at the time – but they were mostly athlete scholarship offers, like, ‘We’ll find you a spot when you get here, maybe receiver, or maybe you could be quarterback.’ At the time, I didn’t really like the way that sounded. I was really set on playing quarterback. At Utah, that was the situation at the time, so that’s why I went there.”

At first, all went according to plan, as Christopher practiced as a scout quarterback during his redshirt season. During his second year with the Utes, however, he was asked to move to receiver to address a team need. Though he said it worked out for the best, the move took some adjustment in terms of practice and career expectations.

“Mentally, it was easy to make the transition coming from quarterback … Going to receiver was definitely less stressful mentally. Physically, it was definitely more demanding, though. You go from having on a black jersey, not getting touched, to getting hit. And you’re definitely running more at receiver than at quarterback. So it was a little change, but nothing too major. Personally, it was tough for me because I told them the only reason I came to Utah was to play quarterback. At first I was kind of resistant to the change and I didn’t really agree with it, but after a while, it was what it was. I just wanted to get on the field, and that was probably the fastest way.”

The next year, as a sophomore, Christopher led the team in receptions. He duplicated that stat his junior year. Ask him about what happened as a senior, and Christopher sounds as if he’s about to deliver a eulogy.

“We had great expectations. Not just personally, but as a team. We had a lot of seniors, a lot of guys who came up in the system, and last year was supposed to be a pretty good year for us. It definitely didn’t turn out that way. We struggled mightily last year – I think it was the worst offense in the whole conference. There wasn’t production to go around. My numbers stink. I don’t really have too many words to say. I’m really not trying to make excuses, but, I mean, that’s just how our season went. It didn’t turn out well for me on a personal level or on a team level.”

When pressed for details, Christopher said that the team had to scramble after losing their quarterback early in the season. “We shuffled around a little bit, ended up changing our whole offense mid-year, ended up changing quarterbacks again a few games later. Basically a bunch of little stuff combined. It wasn’t the type of season that we really wanted, but it is what it is now.”

Overlooked

Jason Thompson earned the moniker of playmaker in 2012. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound receiver averaged 20 yards per reception (44 for 881) and had 16 touchdowns. If you didn’t hear his name this season, Thompson understands. He said that was an aspect of playing for Division II New Haven, as he explained while discussing his preparation for his pro day March 27.

“Well, I’m lifting like everybody else, I’m preparing for the drills. I feel like, if my number is called, I’m trying to be ready. Because I know, being a small school guy, I’ve got to prepare. I’ve got to be that much better than the next person. I’m just trying to make sure I can do the things that people ask me to do.”

Thompson finds himself in the category of a high achiever in a lower-division school. While he said he was recruited by SMU and Bethune-Cookman (located in his home state of Florida), Thompson and a high school friend came North to follow a coach. “(New Haven Head Coach) Peter Rossomando coached a couple of my high school coaches,” he said. “They went to New Haven to coach with him, and they recruited me and my best friend (quarterback Ronnie Nelson). They offered both of us, so we just figured we’d go together, so we just came up here together.”

The four-year high school basketball player was a football neophyte with only one year of varsity experience. Thompson credits Rossomando for his development and for the success of New Haven, which has won the Northeast-10 Conference Championship three years in a row. For his team’s accomplishments, Rossomando was named the Divison II Coach of the Year.

“You know, he rebuilt our program in such a short amount of time. Over four years, we were consistent – I think we were like (35-9) or something, that’s not bad – and just to win the conference three years in a row … Honestly, I think he’s a great coach, and I think he deserves (Coach of the Year) because he works hard and he puts a lot of time and effort into everything. To bring the group of guys together like he did, and for us to accomplish the things we did, I think it’s great.”

Injured

While a high school football player at Harding Academy in Tennessee, Marlon Brown did some wonderful things on the field. A prime example was in the state championship, where Brown had 335 yards receiving and four touchdowns.

Ask Brown about that contest, though, and one fact sticks out. “Yeah, I remember that game, but I also remember that we lost that game by two points,” he said.

Brown had his choice of schools, including LSU, Florida and Alabama in the SEC. The 6-4, 215-pounder settled on Georgia and got to play as a true freshman. “I think I fit in well,” he said. “It’s a post-up offense: they use big receivers a lot.”

Heading into his senior year, Brown and his teammates figured they would vie for the national championship. Brown had few personal expectations beyond helping the team by doing what they asked of him.

They asked him to catch the ball. By November, Brown was tied for the team lead in receptions with Tavarres King with 27. As he said, “Everything was going as expected.”

Then, what every athlete fears: a knee injury against Ole Miss that knocked Brown out for the rest of the season. “To be honest, I thought I just sprained my knee a little bit,” he said, “because I was laying on the ground, and then they asked me if I could get up and walk, and I was like, ‘Yeah, I can walk. I think I can.’ And I got up and I started walking off the field. And then I was like, ‘Oh, I’ll be alright, I’ve just got to walk it off.’ And then they told me I tore my ACL. I mean, it was just heartbreaking. It was just the last thing on my mind.”

Brown had left the game during the third quarter to get an MRI. His promising senior year had ended before its time, forcing him to reevaluate his career. “Really, after I got hurt – I got hurt and they told me I was out for the rest of the season – after the game that night, I just, you know, I just called my grandmother and had a long talk with her. Basically, I was like, things happen for a reason. I’m not going to sit here and sob over the injury like it’s the end of the world. So, work hard and bounce back.”

What They Bring

Stanford had a lackluster season by their standards; however, Terrell did some positive things that NFL coaches should notice. Besides providing a consistent third-down threat, Terrell continued his role as a dynamic punt returner, averaging over 12 yards per runback.

While the prospect of returning a punt against 11 men might seem daunting to some, Terrell has lifelong experience that gives him perspective. “For me, it’s something that I’ve always done, since I started playing football. I was a baseball player when I was younger, and I think my hand/eye coordination and being able to track the ball and catch it in baseball really helped me out with returning punts. It’s something that’s come naturally to me. I mean, if I had to give advice, I would say stay calm. A lot of people tend to try to over-coach punt returners, and I think it’s something that you have to let come to you. You can’t force anything. You have to stay calm, trust in the athletic abilities you have: you know, the ability to track the ball and catch it. I think vision is something that’s natural but is really critical in being a punt returner – being able to see the field, see lanes, when to hit them, when to cut it back, that type of thing. But I figure it’s just staying calm, being an athlete, and letting the game come to you.”

In terms of finding lanes, Terrell found a big one vs. Duke this season, bringing back a punt for a touchdown. “There’s definitely a point where you can hit, make a cut, and then you’ve got one, maybe two guys to beat, and you know at that point that you can go to the house. In the Duke game when I got my return, I broke to the right because there was a defender right in front of me, so I cut off him. Then I saw that it was just me and the punter, and I knew the punter had no chance. I wasn’t going to let him make a play. I think once I cut back on that first guy and I saw the punter, I knew at that point that it was going to be a touchdown and a big play.” (For a highlight of Terrell’s return, go to the 2:20 mark of this video.)

In terms of trying to make it at the next level, Christopher has two career aspects in his favor, one of which was his experience at QB and how it helps him read defenses.

“At receiver, you’re only dissecting the secondary,” Christopher said. “As a quarterback, you’re worried about the rush, you’re worried about the linebackers, about how the DB in coverage is working. You have a lot to worry about even before the snap of the ball … So playing quarterback has made it way easier for me to dissect defenses and coverages.”

The other aspect the 6-1, 192-pound pass-catcher brings? “Just being a physical receiver, you know, competing for that ball. Blocking – I know a lot of receivers might not really take pride in their blocking, but that was something that was stressed at Utah, so now I’m familiar with it. That is definitely a part of my game. So being able to block is definitely something that I pride myself on. I know I could definitely help in the running game.”

Christopher tries to set himself apart even though he knows it’s all been said before. “But that drive to win, I’m sure a lot of athletes, a lot of people, say that they have it, but those crunch times, I have some plays and some film where it’s long (yardage) on fourth and the game on the line, and I came through. It’s actually a blessing to even be put in that situation to even make the play. So there’s some playmaking ability shown on my highlight reel.”

Coming from a smaller school, Thompson’s most useful experiences seem to have come from playing under a great coach in Rossomando. “First of all, he always pushed me,” Thompson said. “He pushed all of us, but he pushed me, and he expected a lot from me. Every time I did something, he expected more. I’m pretty sure he’d seen great things in me, and that motivated me. Our program, we were just all very close, a tight-knit group, so we all played for each other, and that kind of helped. I mean, you weren’t out there trying to be selfish and wanting the ball all the time. Like, I never had the greedy feeling of wanting the ball all the time, I just wanted everybody to do well and win as a team. I think we were able to accomplish that.”

Thompson plans to use his small-school status as a motivator. “I’m a grounded guy. I’m a hard worker. I want to win. I have a drive; I have a motor, and I’m just all in right now, so I’m just going to give all I have. I don’t think there are any skills (I’m lacking). You’d get a hard-working guy. I got a chip on my shoulder and I want to prove myself.” (You can see Thompson’s highlight reel here.)

While Brown couldn’t finish up his senior year the way he wanted to, he felt Georgia’s offense helped him demonstrate what he could bring. “Usually, you think of a slot guy as small and fast and quick, but here at Georgia we have slot guys who are big, who are physical, and can have some nice little passes across the middle of the field,” Brown said. He added that he liked playing inside receiver more because, “I just like going across the middle.” (You can see Brown’s 2012 highlight reel here.)

Expectations

In spite of various fates that have led each player to this point, all of them aspire to reach the next level. Still, despite each one’s situation – or perhaps because of it – no one seems to believe he is owed anything.

Brown, the only athlete in this piece with a combine invitation, made use of his time with NFL coaches despite being unable to go through drills. “I talked to teams at the combine when I was there. I talked to them after the combine as well. I think teams are interested in me for sure, but my injury has set me back a little bit. But not so far back where I can’t come back or where teams don’t want me. But I have no expectations, really. I’m just going to go and see what happens.”

Terrell shared that wait-and-see attitude. “If I’m drafted, that’s great; if I’m not, that’s great, too. It’s just – anytime I can get an opportunity to come to camp and show what I can do, I think I’m going to be happy for that, regardless. So come draft day, I don’t have any expectations. I won’t be, you know, let down at all if I’m not drafted. Just kind of let the chips fall where they may and once I get to camp, or a mini-camp, or whatever, I intend to show that I’m good enough to play in this league and to stick. I don’t really have any expectations for draft day.”

Thompson – who, like Terrell and Brown, is still on campus finishing up classes – had a similar outlook. “Being from a small school, I just feel like, right now, being able to be a part of the whole process and everything is just a blessing. Anything that happens as far as being drafted and all that would be a great thing for me. I would be happy with anything. My outlook is, I’m trying to get my degree, and if this works out for me, I’ll be more than happy, because this is a dream for me. It’s definitely something I want to pursue. I’m putting everything into it, but at the same time trying to stay grounded. I’m just hoping, and I’m preparing for it. I mean, I think I can make it happen.”

The NFL draft begins on Thursday, April 25 and wraps up on Saturday, April 27, when, as of this writing, the Patriots have two seventh-round picks.

You can email Chris Warner at chris.warner@patriotsdaily.com

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Bird’s Rookie Year — Game 77 vs. the Cavaliers

Celtics (58-18) vs. Cleveland (34-43)
March 22, 1980
Richfield Coliseum

The Celtics stumbled, 109-105, in front of a sellout crowd of 19,548 in Cleveland against the suddenly hot Cavaliers.

The win marked the eighth straight for the Cavs, a team facing a future of uncertainty.  The only coach and general manager the team had ever known, Bill Fitch, now coached the league-best Boston Celtics, and a new change in ownership had the NBA wondering whether professional basketball could survive in Ohio.  The Boston Globe’s Steve Marantz reported further on the sale:

Bill Fitch-Cavs

Continue reading Bird’s Rookie Year — Game 77 vs. the Cavaliers

Sports Media Musings: What The Sports Guy’s Live March Madness Stream Means For Studio Shows

Quick Infomercial: I wrote about Tuukka Rask‘s plight and “Tuukka Time” becoming “Biding Time” for today’s print edition of Metro Boston. Here’s the web version. Please take a moment and give it a read. And remember, feel free to give me a shout out on Twitter if you’re bored Out There. As always, thanks for reading.

*** 

The way CBS Sports — both the studio crew and sideline reporters — handled the power outage during last year’s Super Bowl was reprehensible. Too strong? Considering the stage — the freakin’ Super Bowl — and how poorly James Brown and Co. adapted to the unforeseen circumstances (Hey guys! Let’s take a look at those same three highlights one more time!), I’d say from a media performance perspective this was, in every sense, embarrassing. Like Janet Jackson‘s nipple slip on freeze frame for 45 minutes.

When you really think about it, was it all that shocking the CBS talking heads floundered when the lights shined (check that, didn’t shine) brightest? Nope. Studio shows suck. That’s not the most eloquent sentence I’ve written in my career, but it’s true, they’re terrible. I know this. You know this. My seven year-old niece (probably) knows this.

The three main problems?

1. Studio shows are overproduced: I don’t need three hours to get ready for a sports event. I don’t need “goofy”segments featuring ex-jocks preaching to me about players being “elite” or “among the elite” or “potentially elite” like we’re on the Congress floor voting for governmental reform. Shoot me. In the face. Please. This is sports, guys. Remember this.

2. Studio shows are grossly overstaffed: There are a litany of reasons why “Inside the NBA” on TNT works. It starts with the talent, the chemistry, all of that. But early on the producers realized less is, in fact, more. Three guys: Ernie Johnson, Chaz Barkley, and Kenny Smith. That’s it. It’s all you need. If you want to throw in a plugged-in information dude, like, say Adam Schefter if you’re ESPN, I’m on board. Too often they are too many chefs in the kitchen with these things. HOW DO THE REST OF THE NETWORKS NOT SEE THIS????

3. Studio shows lack any sincerity: Seriously, I’m hearing the same Chris Berman joke that Tom Jackson and Cris Carter are digesting, and my reaction is either indifference or worse; meanwhile, they respond like they’re watching Dave Chappelle do stand up comedy circa 2004. They’re either YACKING IT UP for the cameras, or are operating with a sense of humor different to anyone else I’ve ever encountered in the world.

I mean, I don’t need these guys to be best pals; I need them to have a clever feature or interview and decent discourse about the league they are covering. Maybe throw in a few old war stories from when they played. But that’s it. Chemistry always helps but it can’t be manufactured — you either have it or you don’t. Berman and Jackson have it, but only after developing a rapport over the years.

***

Bill Simmons knows these problems. He’s written about these problems for Page 2 way back when. In 2013, he finally has the influence and cache to remedy the issue. He’s got the ear of ESPN C-Level Executive John Skipper. Sports Illustrated’s media critic Richard Deitsch put Simmons as the most powerful personality in sports media in his power rankings last month. He’s now even a player in the sphere as an analyst on ESPN’s revamped “NBA Countdown” studio show. ESPN is clearly following the TNT model, using Simmons, Magic Johnson, Jalen Rose, and Michael Wilbon (as the pseudo host). Four guys. That’s it. And more often than not, on non-primetime games, one of the analysts will be off for the night.

So, it came to no surprise to me during Day 1 of March Madness that The Sports Guy hosted a live stream from his living room (I’m serious) on his website, Grantland, featuring a few staff writers, Rose, and his friend Joe House. What did they do? Basically, just a bunch of guys, being guys, eating food, and watching sports. HAMMIN’ IT UP for the camera webcam.

This seems silly, but then again so did Simmons writing an Internet column for $50 bucks a pop in the late ’90s before becoming the face of ESPN.com (and Grantland) and hosting a podcast in 2007 mainly featuring friends before having guests like President Obama on (That’s right. Our President took the time to talk to Simmons on his podcast. Sorry, haters — you may denigrate what The Sports Guy’s accomplished, but if that isn’t telling, I don’t know what is).

Will this be a game changer? I don’t know. Probably not. It’s a risk from Simmons. He’ll likely be poked fun at by the blogosphere, because that’s what the blogosphere does, but he can be coy and claim it’s just him and a few buddies hanging out (the insertion of House, the setting, all make for a “GOTCHA, THIS WAS JUST FOR KICKS” aspect for those that really care to criticize).

Worse case scenario, show runners come to terms with something the rest of us realized at the turn of the century: Studio shows have an obsolete format and it’s time to turn out the lights on the old guard — figuratively speaking, of course — and consider implementing a major overhaul.

Recognition of the problem, I’m told, is always the first step.

Quicklinks to Friday Media Columns

Ryan Hadfield will be by in a bit with some musings, but here are a couple links from this morning:

WEEI simulcast on NESN giving odd vibe – Chad Finn has a sports media “thoughts” column which looks at a number of topics including the increasingly bizarre happenings on the WEEI morning show, with John Dennis attempting every bully power play he’s learned over the years (“Minifield, Mini-me, whatever your name is…“)  in a desperate attempt to keep power.

He also notes the departure of longtime D&C producer Steve Ciaccio, who said on his Facebook page that he is leaving the station as of April 2nd.

We’ve been saying this for weeks, but this HAS to come to a head soon.

NCAA tournament bracket forever a superstar – Bill Doyle talks to Steve Kerr and Clark Kellogg about March Madness.

Sports Media Musings: The Mailbag, Chapter IV

Welcome to the Monthly Weekly?? Sports Media Mailbag! Here are comments and emails from you, the readers, with insight on your favorite sports media personalities. To contribute to the mailbag, either shoot me an email at Hadfield.Ryan@gmail.com, hit me up on Twitter @Hadfield__, or leave a response in the comments section of any one of my columns.

“Welcome Mike Salk. If you didn’t before, you definitely now have a wide open door for listeners from 2-6.” – Andre Dursin

Tony Massarotti and Michael Felger were theorizing about why the Bruins go into a funk every March/April on Monday. Kind of ironic to think about: Their show started to tailspin around this time last year when they poorly miscalculated the impact of their Celtics-bashing during the 2011-12 playoff run. A slow start is forgivable, but “Salk & Holley” have a chance, albeit a slim one, to capture some quick momentum out of the gate with the recent happenings on “Felger & Mazz.” (More on this later.)

“My days of reading this site are over. Hadfield is unreadable. Readership is officially single digits. Over and out.” –Luther

I’m unreadable? Is it the font?? Why are you talking on a walkie-talkie???

Oh wait, you just don’t like my approach. That’s fair. Sorry, bruh. Not changing – GOTS TO KEEP IT REAL. I am concerned, however, about your comprehension skills – *re-checks the numbers* – I don’t think your report about BSMW’s readership is accurate. SIDE NOTE: Bruce, we may have a hacker.

“I don’t get the vitriol for Felger. I don’t get the vitriol for anyone just because they have a different opinion on sports. Take it with a grain of salt, it’s supposed to be fun…to me Felger and Mazz are funny, entertaining radio.” – NEPatsFan

Look, I’m on record here, many times over, actually, as being a staunch “Felger & Mazz” supporter. Yes, sports talk radio is supposed to be a fun, worthwhile debate. And Felger and Mazz certainly meet these guidelines, as ratings would suggest, with flying colors. And hey, while I could do without the contrarian takes, whatever, I get it.

But man, I have enormous issues with how the two have conducted themselves during Welkahpalooza. The duo is traversing dangerous grounds by calling out other reporters, particularly while not documenting any reporting of their own to bolster their claims. I think it’s rude. I think it’s unprofessional. I think it’s a punk move.

Now, with that coming from me of all people, readers could – and I’m sure will – mention something about pots and kettles and stones and glasshouses. But you’d be wrong. Oh, you’d be very wrong. I rarely call out reporters, if ever. I have no use for it. Reporters obtain information and disseminate.  That’s great. But what I do here mainly focuses on columnists and talking heads. And, from my point of view, the imaginary scoreboard of breaking accurate stories shows Tom E. Curran and Mike Reiss have a strong track record doing their job, and doing it well.

That Jeffri Chadiha takdown was an ass-whupping.  Feelings are king in football columns. Gravity on its last leg? Seen better days? Potential column.” Matt Chatham (via Twitter).

For better clarification: Read my evisceration of Chadiha if you haven’t already. Reiss and Curran don’t belong in the same filth as that crap. Unfortunately, appreciating the Patriots won’t draw the ire of listeners, and doesn’t translate to ratings.  I wrote this the other day: It’s comical how many media members are ready to push the “DYNASTY IS OVER” button on the Patriots. Like every year. I get the Bill Belichick hate, I suppose, but come on.

“I love what Felger and Mazz are doing. They are trolling the Boston media and the rest of us who don’t get hot and bothered by negative talk about the local teams are loving it and the ratings prove it. All media in this country is corporate swill and they deserve the abuse.” – Dan

There is playing Devil’s Advocate (e.g. picking the Ravens over the Pats even though you vehemently claim the NFL is a QB’s league all season long), then there is throwing out baseless accusations to support an agenda, Dan. I’m fine with the former. If you want to espouse the idea that the Patriots have significant valuation issues and equate Robert Kraft to the late Al Davis, go right ahead. But please, I don’t think neither Felger or Mazz  are abusing “corporate media” as part of a greater altruistic effort; they’re doing it because they want ratings.

(Side note: If Felger really thinks Reiss’ coverage is “slanted,” what does he call the opinion-based dialect he spews roughly 22 hours a day on radio and television? I makes me seriously wonder if he has less self-awareness than Donald Trump.)

“Another great column, Ryan….HOWEVER, I disagree with this line >>>> “People, even knowledgeable sports fans, believe in this nonsense. They take it as gospel” ……..sorry man, no disrespect to your buddy but NO, “knowledgeable sports fan” takes what Felger says as “gospel”…if they do, then they aren’t “knowledgeable”…..in fact, they must be idiots.” –DryHeave

I love “DryHeave” as a username. RELATED: I hope everyone had a great St. Paddy’s day.

Re: Knowledgeable sports fans DO take what is said on the airwaves seriously. The platform has that power. Felger’s right — they have more influence in the Boston market than ESPN, but with great power comes great respon-…

Wait, where was I? OK, back. Sorry blacked out there for a second. I just think that influence is why it sucks Felger and Mazz recklessly challenged reports from esteemed writers. It hurts said-writers’ reputation. Good on Reiss for firing back, but he shouldn’t have to. His history doesn’t give us any reason to question his reporting.

“I am not a fan of Minihane’s but someone has to free him. D&C are in a total tailspin. I know it is a slow time of the year but this media vs. media MMA thing is painful radio. I even tried Kuhner this morning on ‘RKO, but his voice kills me. WEEI has to get Minihane out of there, they are killing his credibility, they run right over the guy. Ryan – keep up the good work, it is hard to establish a voice in any market let alone Boston.” –Free Kirk

Kirk, is that you??

Man, that media MMA tourney was cringe worthy, but I think it was useful in the sense that WEEI should now recognize they will lose a war of wit against The Sports Hub, specifically “Toucher & Rich.” The men of Guest Street must engage the audience in a different style – channeling compelling discourse about sports (not politics, please).

Methinks the dog days of summer are going to be especially long for Minihane, like listening to a long-winded question from Denito himself, but all signs point to John Dennis’ exile being all but imminent.  And hey, Dennis’ vacation was a nice preview of what could be. I enjoyed Minihane-Arnold-Callahan.

“On Deadspin yesterday: http://deadspin.com/welcome-ki… …’SI is developing a new brand and website with King as the centerpiece, sources told us. The in-house nickname for the new site is Kinglandia. The actual name for the site is still under discussion…Here’s one name: A source tells us Kinglandia is going hard after The Boston Globe’s excellent NFL writer, Greg Bedard.’

As they point out, it’s basically going to be a clone of Grantland but with King running it.. really? The name alone is, uhm..”-BSMFAN

I’ve been mystified with choices Bill Simmons has made with Grantland since its inception. When it comes to the site itself, I’ve wavered more than Glenn Ordway on, well, anything. On the other hand, I’ve always said that everyday they publish at least one MUST-READ piece (and that number is growing with time). These days, I love it. But the reason it works is because Simmons, whether you like it or not, has interests outside the realm of sports that most people relate to.

Meanwhile, don’t get me wrong, I do pick through MMQB every week, but Peter King enjoys coffee and loathes traveling. Those aren’t interests, they are minutia. This could be a disaster waiting to happen. And if Sports On Earth and Grantland didn’t already enlist Mike Tanier and Bill Barnwell, who are both fantastic, then Greg Bedard would’ve been writing for either. His move to Sports Illustrated makes sense. He’s a clever writer, adept at film study, and has solid sources around the league. I just have reservations about “Kinglandia.”

“How many of the supposed knowledgeable Boston Talking heads (Shaughnessy, Ordway, Dennis, etc..) think Danny traded away the Championship in 2011. What they fail to remember is Dwayne Wade’s jujitsu like takedown of Rondo in Game 3 of that series. Once that happened, all bets were off. I liked Perk but he wasn’t a 9 million dollar player. Apparently the Thunder are learning the same thing as there are constant rumors that they will amnesty him.” Jimmy V.

Night’s like Monday’s 105-103 loss to the Heat are why I was firmly entrenched in the anti-BLOW IT UP camp. The Celtics aren’t necessarily old, and guys like Jeff Green experiencing more games will help, not hurt, their career down the road. And from a viewer’s perspective, it’s nice to watch competitive basketball.

Funny though, who’s excited to hear talking heads wax about sacrificing “chemistry” and “intangibles” with the Kendrick Perkins trade? ME, I AM!?! That’s all we’ve heard since the trade, right? They’ll shift gears and redirect, because they always do. Case in point, Mazz actually opened Tuesday’s show saying “it’s not about the numbers with Green, it’s how it looks – on some level his 43-point performance is frustrating.”

Ugh.

By the way, speaking of injuries, we always hear talk about how the Celtics lost a potential championship to Kevin Garnett’s injury in 2008. Is it time to start thinking they lost a title to Avery Bradley and Green’s injuries last year? I think they win that Heat series if the two are healthy.

Something interesting to think about. On that note, as always, thanks for reading! We’ll do it again sooner rather than later. If you’re bored Out There, give me a shout on Twitter @Hadfield__.

Bird’s Rookie Year — Game 76 vs. the Pistons

Celtics (57-18) vs. Detroit (16-60)
March 20, 1980
Pontiac Silverdome

The Celtics picked up a fourth straight victory with a beatdown, 124-106, of the Pistons in Detroit.  Combined with two straight losses by the 76ers (54-22), the Celtics were four games ahead of Philadelphia in the Atlantic Division standings with only six games remaining on the schedule.  The magic number for the Celtics to win the division and secure a first-round bye now stood at three.

Pete Maravich

Larry Bird struggled all night, not displaying the offensive prowess he had shown a year earlier in March of 1979.  He shot 4-14 from the field, and though he grabbed seven rebounds and seven assists, Bird also picked up a game-high eight turnovers.  Bill Fitch talked to the Boston Globe’s Bob Ryan after the game about a rare lackluster performance:

“Of all the games this season this is the one I’ll remember because Bird proved he was human,” said Fitch.  “It wasn’t his shooting, it was his passes, his decisions on the floor, everything.  Until tonight, I had never seen him play a bad game.  He quit looking at the hoop in the end.”

But Fitch absolutely sees Bird as the NBA’s Rookie of the Year and the Most Valuable Player.  The MVP contest is being hyped as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar vs. Bird.

Ryan was able to speak with Bird about the turnovers after the game:

Bird has shrugged off his shooting problems in the Dome.  “I never could get it going here,” he sighed.  “But I’ll come back next year with a good attitude.”  Pressed to comment about his turnovers, which bested his assists by an 8-7 margin, Bird said, “Some passes could have been caught but our concentration wasn’t as good as usual on the break.  And Max (Cedric Maxwell) couldn’t run with his bad ankle, which meant that a few he usually catches went off his fingertips.  I have confidence in those passes and my teammates, and I’ll keep throwing the same passes.”

Dave Cowens and Cedric Maxwell helped pick up the slack, combining for 31 points and 24 rebounds, but the big story for the second straight game was the play of Pistol Pete Maravich.

 

The game was televised as the USA Network’s Thursday Night NBA game, and included a halftime interview with a clairvoyant Bob Ryan, who predicted the Los Angeles Lakers to capture the NBA title.

 

Inserted into the starting lineup again in place of Chris Ford (still on the IR), Maravich led the Celtics with 20 points.

Again Pete Maravich had his shooting shoes on, and he scored 10 points to lead all first-quarter scorers, Bob Ryan wrote.  Included among his four baskets was one in- your-face jumper to the fourth degree.

Ryan also commented on an anomaly on the box score, a three-pointer from Dave Cowens:

The supreme moment in this game came when Dave Cowens took a pass from Rick Robey with 3:09 left and swished a three-pointer from the left corner.  He came downcourt grinning and slapped hands with Pete Maravich.  When he went to the bench for a time out, he was similarly greeted by his teammates.  Such is life with a 58-18 team that had just wrapped up its fourth straight triumph and 25th road conquest of the season.

“It’s great to have a three-pointer under my belt,” said Cowens, semi- seriously.  “But you notice it took a center to get me the ball.”

The Celtics also celebrated Don Chaney’s 34th birthday by placing the Duck back on the active roster.  Chaney openly discussed his disappointment with his role on the team with The Boston Globe’s Walter Haynes:

“Right now I don’t have good feelings about my contribution to the team because I’m not playing.  I feel more like an outsider and not in the swing of things.  Maybe the average person would say I should be content to just sit on the bench,” said Chaney…

“People might call it bitching,’ but I do want to play more,” he continued.  As a player, you feel the game in your whole mind and body, and because you love it, you can’t walk away from it.  For 95 percent of my life, it’s been basketball, and all of it has been learning to play from a competitive standpoint.”

Don Chaney

Chaney did, however, understand why he was not part of the mix of players receiving playing time:

“Hey, I’ve lost a step and some of my stamina,” he admitted.  “But on a good ballclub, guys want to play so badly that when they are on the floor, they try to outplay the starters.  This makes a team stronger.  A player loses it all when he resolves that he can’t beat another player out of a job.

“When I was young, I would think about what it will be like when I have to stop playing.  I don’t think the media can really understand the inner thoughts of a player on something like this.  You can only understand it if you’ve been there yourself.  It’s why even John (Havlicek) will go out and pick up a basketball now.  Just to feel it.”

Chaney scored six points in a dozen minutes against the Pistons.  Regardless of his role, he looked forward to returning to the post-season.

“This team has a very good chance of making it to the finals,” said Chaney, who won a title with the Celtics in 1974.  “It’s a well-balanced team; we have a good attitude, and everyone gets along with each other.  Maybe right now we’re playing a little routinely because of the anticipation of the playoffs.  But the playoffs are like a whole new season, a rebirth.

The Celtics continued the road trip by heading to Cleveland to battle the Cavaliers on Saturday.

 

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Bird’s Rookie Year — Game 75 vs. the Pacers

Celtics (56-18) vs. Indiana (34-41)
March 18, 1980
Hartford Civic Center

In the midst of legal battles with the Boston Garden, the Celtics returned “home” after a three-game road to the friendly confines of the Hartford Civic Center.  After a career that made stops across Beaver County, Pennsylvania all the way to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, it really didn’t matter where he played: the only true home for Pete Maravich was the hardwood floor of a basketball court.  Buoyed by a vintage 31-point performance from Pistol Pete, the Celtics avenged a loss from eight days prior and defeated the Indiana Pacers, 114-102. Continue reading Bird’s Rookie Year — Game 75 vs. the Pacers