DATELINE: When Likeable Isn’t Enough
Like the cicada, we come out of hiding every decade or so to re-dedicate ourselves to the Boston Celtics.
We thought this should be the year. The Celtics have a born-again Red Auerbach coach in Brad Stevens. We have become totally devoted to this remarkable superstar coach, and he has brought the team to the playoffs.
But this is not the year for the Celtics. Glaring holes in the roster emerged when Avery Bradley and Kelly Olynyk fell to the injury curse. Stevens played ten all season—and now, like an Agatha Christie mystery, the team has only eight.
Oh, we have been delighted with the Rondo replacement: the IT boy. Yes, there once was an IT girl, Theda Bara. She had it. Well, Isaiah Thomas has “it” too. We didn’t think there was a cure for the fatal flaw of Rajon, but “IT” is it.
We still have Jelly O’Sully on the roster, that remarkable combo of Sullinger and Olynyk, though some say its day is now over. The summer season will see one, if not both, gone with haste while Danny Ainge finds superstars to replace them.
We like the rookie who never played much this season: he reminds us of Kevin McHale in his posture and body language.
We have come to appreciate Evan Don’t Call Him Turnover Turner, and we have come to watch Marcus smarten up. His gold Mohawk has grown on us too–even if Fort Knox loses its golden locks.
Yet, the team is not ready for the Final series. It’s a shame because we truly liked this bunch. What returns next season won’t be the same.
DATELINE: Stockpiling the Future Asset
Danny Ainge’s cockamamie plan is now clear.
He intends to trade every player on the team for future draft picks.
If another NBA team wants a player on the Celtics roster, Ainge will do what he can to accommodate a trade. Nothing will come back to Boston in return—only future considerations.
Like ghosts on the Outward Bound ship to the afterlife, the new Celtics will feature empty spots on the bench.
You may think the Celtics will be short-handed, having sent everyone who can score (or even play) to another team. That’s a mere technicality. All that would remain on the bench would be injured players and fans who think they can play better than the present roster.
If the Celtics have no players, there will be great cost savings on salary for the next two years. Ainge has discovered that future considerations do not require a monthly paycheck.
This could save the team about $75 million each season.
Since the Celtics play to lose just about every game on the schedule, this fits right in with a plan to divest the Celtics organization of everyone except Brad Stevens.
As a groundbreaking strategy, the Celtics would become the first team in the history of professional sports to have no one on the roster.
They would have plenty of speculation and fan input for what players would eventually don the green uniform in two or three years. The team could open the TD Garden doors every night for a guest high school team to come to play an NBA game.
Fans might not see much difference from what has been on the parquet so far this season.
DATELINE: Tragedy Meets Comedy
Uh-oh. Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
This seems to be the motivation speech of Coach Brad Stevens at game time. Boston Celtics were ready for another night of hickory-dickory dock.
We now have a greater appreciation for Doc Rivers leaving Boston.
Bob Dylan once sang out the proverbial question: “Something is happening around here, but you don’t know what it is, do you, Mr. Jones?”
Mr. Stevens doesn’t have a clue.
Brad Stevens (the present and future young coach of the now even more miserable Boston Celtics) admitted in a way that Bill Belichick, Terry Francona, and Doc Rivers never spoke in a postgame press conference. By his own admission Brad Stevens doesn’t have a clue.
He likened his coaching to tossing darts. Blind-folded, we might add.
Well, now we know that Red Auerbach isn’t walking through that door, fans. We have sitting before us the new Rick Pitino.
As Celtics fans know, the long-ago alleged savior of the Celtics, actually came in and turned out to be one of the zombies bringing the team down. Rick Pitino, meet Brad Stevens.
We grant you this: Trading Rajon Rondo for some chips and a corndog is not the fault of Coach Stevens.
Uh-oh. You mean the team is now, more than ever, heading down to lottery land?
Having youth was supposed to serve us well.
Apparently Danny Ainge did not send the memo down the chain of command. Instead, we hear the unchained melody of Bob Dylan, “knock, knock, knocking on heaven’s door.”
Forget anyone walking through that door. It’s locked.
Yes, it’s all over this season, fans. Coach Stevens has not been given the keys to the kingdom, or to the front door.
Watching the Boston Celtics this dismal season has a hidden side that only a true fan might see. The Celtics had victory snatched from their jaws in two-dozen games.
Yes, with a Paul Pierce on the team, or a healthy Rajon Rondo, there could have been up to 30 additional victories in the win column. There would also be no lottery opportunity.
Playing basketball this season has been like playing horseshoes. Those “leaners” are not good enough. We needed dead ringers.
The good news is that, with a few tweaks, coach Brad Stevens could have a contender on his hands next season. With a few bounces and a little bit of luck, the Celtics won’t get hitched to the losing bandwagon.
Of course, if the lottery goes the way the season goes, the Celtics will be looking at years that bring shivers and nightmares to the dreams of fans. You may indeed pick a Len Bias, and you may indeed be handed your head on a silver platter by the cutting winds of fate.
Paul Pierce may return to the Celtics next season along with some impressive lottery pick. It may be that Danny Ainge will wield some magic and divest his team of bad karma like Jeff Green and Avery Bradley, some of the most overrated players in recent history, to sign a bona fide star.
Brad Stevens can coach and has some “je ne sais quois,” that could make him an heir apparent to the Old Redhead of Celtic lore.
As this season sinks into the realm of forgotten hardships, we will remember like Barbra Streisand sang so many times only the good. Time makes us rewrite every line.
We will forget every bad moment and choose to recall only the good. The way we were, indeed.
For those interested in following the Celtics over the past few seasons, the definitive insider look at the team can be found in the satiric reports of Ossurworld in RAJON RONDO: SUPERSTAR and RAJON RONDO & THE GREEN NEBULA. Both books are available from Amazon.com.
Danny Ainge has spent two years collecting draft picks like a teenage girl collects Valentines.
Now he dismisses the entire concept of draft picks as overhyped.
He never had any intention of picking a new rising star. The Celtics don’t care about that—and their refusal to “tank” has proven that, much to the consternation of media insiders who don’t know anything about the Celtics strategy—even when it looks right at them.
Danny Ainge has already proved his template for success. This summer he will trade draft picks for superstars. He did it before, and he will do it again.
People seem to forget he created instant champions when he procured Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. He will be scouring the ranks of other teams and sending them draft lottery Valentines to win the best players possible.
Rebuilding with a lottery star takes years and is a crap shoot.
Winning with proven stars merely takes creating some chemistry in preseason. Danny has some experience in discerning what players will get along with what players.
He knows who wants to be in the Rondo camp—and if the cannot find stars of that proclivity, he may send Rondo packing and restock with chemically altered superstars.
Danny already has his young stars—Kelly Olynyk and Jared Sullinger. Jelly O’Sully is the tandem that will be at the core. A year under their belts will make them the reason a championship is around the corner.
Perhaps Paul Pierce will return to give more shape to the proceedings.
Brad Stevens is now the magician and alchemist who will take what Danny gives and weave it into the gold standard of instant championship.
DATELINE: CARTOON HISTORY
With the revival of Mr. Peabody and Sherman in a new full-length cartoon, the famous dog genius and his adopted boy become the new metaphor for the Boston Celtics.
The movie producers who remade the 1960 television cartoon for the big screen missed the mark when they did not produce a live-action version with Boston’s latest dog and pony show.
Brad Stevens should have been cast as Mr. Peabody and Rajon Rondo would have eased perfectly into the role as Sherman, the troublesome boy wondering.
Mr. Peabody is a dry wit that must put up with the lessons of history and try to teach them to his ward who resembles a jaybird of mercurial feathers.
The plot premise could provide loads of laughs. In order to help Sherman Rondo learn what he must, Peabody Brad invents a Way Back Machine.
One of the first trips they take back into the basketball past is to visit Wilt Chamberlain.
Mr. Brad Peabody impresses Sherman Rondo when he they attend Wilt’s 28th birthday party where Rondo sees five Las Vegas showgirls and Chamberlain’s mother’s bridge partner jump out of a birthday cake.
Later Mr. Brad Peabody takes Sherman Rondo back 20 years to Red Auerbach’s office where he overhears upstart Danny Ainge telling Red to trade Larry Bird because no one is better than the team.
These hard lessons may not teach Sherman Rondo anything because he asks to return to 2007 when a fresh-faced Rajon partied with the best Big Three of his life.
Sometimes going way back condemns you to repeat history. Brad Stevens and Rajon Rondo may be examples of those condemned to reliving history.
For those who want to relive history, there are two Rondo books to help you go way back: RAJON RONDO: SUPERSTAR! and RAJON RONDO & THE GREEN NEBULA. Both books are available at Amazon.com for smart readers.
With all the patience and measured temperament of Old Testament figure Job, or Chaucer’s Griselda, coach Brad Stevens of the Celtics was thrown out of a game by an official.
Never in his college or short professional career had Stevens ever experienced the heady rush of being tossed out on his keester.
Welcome to the NBA, Brad, where bad calls have given Hall of Fame coach, player, and broadcaster Tom Heinsohn dyspepsia for decades.
If you are wondering how bad the referees of the NBA are, you have only to marvel at one of them throwing out the Boy Scout Emeritus of basketball. Brad Stevens is a man of such rectitude that he has never jaywalked or littered.
Yet, the power drunk zebras of the NBA seem to be auditioning to work the Harlem Globetrotter games.
Indications are that Stevens did not raise his voice, lose his temper, or use any language that is typical of NBA thugs.
It was his time of initiation. Next week the referees will make him run a gauntlet while they try to use paddles on his rear end as he dodges their slings and arrows.
Players from across the Twitterverse expressed shock and surprise that the Teflon coach had egg stuck on his smooth surface.
How calculated was Brad’s desire to be thrown to the dogs? Let’s just say he wants to live life as a NBA head coach to the fullest.
For those wondering, Rajon Rondo took over the team in the absence of Stevens. The assistant coaches never knew what hit them.
Fans of Rajon Rondo may want to read RAJON RONDO: SUPERSTAR or its companion piece RAJON RONDO & THE GREEN NEBULA for more insights into the Boston Celtics. Books are available at Amazon.com for smart readers.
DATELINE: GRAVEYARD HUMOR
Cue the pallbearers. The Celtics have not come back to life with Rajon Rondo giving the gift of breath.
CPR (or Celtics Pulmonary Rondo) has failed to bring the franchise back from the brink of premature burial.
Did someone send Rondo the memo that the team needs to tank? How long can we expect Rondo to look positively human before he goes into a super rage?
The good news is that he seems healthy and recovered enough to play. Danny Ainge may be assessing whether to trade Rondo before anyone learns that he has come back a shell of his former self.
Three games is not a fair test for a man with a gimpy leg and a tentative will to succeed. Call it the Derick Rose Syndrome. Call it the Kobe Bryant Disease. Call it the Curse of Gronk.
Who could blame Rondo for being tentative in a world where so many superstars have returned only to find the surgeon implanted kryptonite into the war wound.
Rondo is looking like the Celtics version of Tom Brady. Greatness wasted.
In the meantime, everyone else looks like trade bait. The latest rumor centers on Jeff Green, the man in Green that bleeds green that seems to have never developed that Celtic heart.
Given every opportunity to take the road to franchise leader, Jeff Green plays uninspired despite the best numbers of his career. How ironic is that?
This is not the New England Patriots where the next man on the bench can step up and perform the job with aplomb. Danny Ainge has guaranteed that Brad Stevens will not have anyone waiting on the bench.
Fans may want to check out RAJON RONDO: SUPERSTAR, or the companion book RAJON RONDO & THE GREEN NEBULA. Both are available on Amazon.com in softcover and in e-book for smart readers.
Yes, indeed, the West Coast road trip for the Boston Celtics against the NBA iron teams has proven to be the debacle astute observers predicted. Yet, losing is not always a yardstick of disaster.
Gerald Wallace contended a sour road trip had the ability to destroy the team, though we know that capability belongs only to Trader Danny Ainge.
The Celtics leader has taken one step in that direction by dismissing Courtney Lee, but the losses out in the darkest night for Boston gives Danny the atomic wedgie button. And he now will push it as the pressure of a first-place team descends the ladder to the Ninth Circle of Hell.
Rumors insist that one of Brad Stevens’s protégés Gordon Hayward from Butler is now available for a high price. We suspect that if Danny asked him, Brad said, “Pretty please.”
Mind you: the Celtics did not play badly in all those West Coast games, losing several by close scores to better teams. The players gave it their all, but were missing one superstar to make a difference.
Whether that star’s Gordon or Rajon, we are sure Stevens would not be fussy.
The issue is whether Ainge wants to part with the plethora of high draft picks he has collected like a philatelist gone amok.
The price of stamps is rising this month, and the price of winning NBA games may be more expensive too.
The lottery is pie in the sky, and Danny already has a track record for adding water to create instant contenders as he did with Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. It may be time to heat the water and send the draft picks packing.
We have seen it before, thanks to Danny Ainge. The player goes into the hopper, and so does goodwill.
The Boston Celtics are playing badly after a popular player has been sent out of town for inexplicable reasons related to salary cap issues.
After pretending that chemistry is something important among their first-place team, the Celtics turned around and traded Courtney Lee to unload his salary.
Lee was playing well, but not often enough. He was dissatisfied with Coach Brad Stevens’ lineup considerations. So, off he was sent, and since then, the Celtics have not played well.
The message created by Ainge is twofold: one, the team is prepared to lose and playing well is not appreciated. Two, personal loyalties and chemistry plays little role in the way the Coach and his front office treat players.
When Danny Ainge sent Kendrick Perkins out of town several seasons ago, the championship team with Hall of Fame players went sour. Rondo was upset, and that meant the All-Stars were distressed. For a month after the Perk trade, the team looked bad and played worse.
Now history repeats itself. This team has no obviously All-Stars and even fewer Hall of Fame candidates, but they did have a camaraderie and simpatico feeling that has been snapped.
Coach Stevens is not Doc Rivers. When Perkins was traded, Rivers used his cache of powerful influence to calm the turbulence. Stevens has nothing in the Celtics bank with these players who had only their relationships to glue them together.
When the best you have is your good will, the worst you can have is its destruction. Thank you, Danny boy, for a bonehead move.
Saving money is always a good thing, isn’t it?
Boston Celtics non-person MarShon Brooks has finally forded that stream. He has packed his bags and gone north to the Alaska of basketball, the D-League.
With a blizzard about to hit the TD Garden in Boston, Brooks is mushing his dogsled to the Siberia of lost souls.
Maine’s Red Claws team may be the closest spot to a gulag according to administrators of the Celtics. President Danny Putin Ainge even sent his son there to learn how to run a basketball pogrom.
Coach Brad Stevens puts a pleasant spin on building the confidence of Brooks. Disinformation should be made of sterner stuff. It would have helped to build his confidence by playing him more than ten minutes during the entire season up to now. Indeed, MarShon may well ask why now even as the Celtics say why not.
Brooks looked miserable sitting on the bench and watching the Celtics routinely blowing 20-point leads. He was powerless to assist, to rebound, or to score. Coach Stevens has a blind spot, and it seemed that MarShon was always sitting in the midst of it.
Now he will play regularly in Maine. So, goes the team patter.
But, of course, his time in Maine will be severely limited because Rajon Rondo is heading up there to rehab his gimpy leg before taking over HMS Bounty and casting Captain Brad Bligh Stevens adrift.
Fans may note that both Jason Kidd and Brad Stevens are rookie coaches with a similar problem: how to relate to their players.
It’s beginning to look like the Nets and/or Celtics ought to have hired Kevin Garnett as player/coach. No player would lose confidence with KG at the helm, though a few might lose their heads.
Celtic Player Pictured in New Uniform
Perhaps Celtics coach Brad Stevens should have followed the example of Patriots coach Bill Belichick and brought his entire team to see the movie Lone Survivor.
After this strategic move, the Patriots crushed the Baltimore Ravens, roundly favored by all experts.
The Indiana Pacers, likely the best team in the NBA, crushed the Boston Celtics around the same time. Champs play every game like their Christmas porridge depends on it.
The Celtics were already sipping egg nog at tip off.
There were no prisoners taken by the Pacers. Nearly every available Celtic played or went through the motions. Only Keith Bogans could claim he washed his hands thoroughly. He never got off the bench.
Rajon Rondo offered no balms on this day. Before the game he held a highly prized press conference to defuse all the optimism about his private practicing. Rondo let the media know he would not play until his body spoke to him.
Apparently his body is giving him the silent treatment.
Rondo offered a timetable that would make the groundhog in Pennsylvania laugh out loud. He claimed he might not be ready until February. With the trade deadline around the same time, Rondo may be playing his first game back with someone other than the Celtics.
If the Celtics make the playoffs, Rondo has his trusty steed ready to ride to the rescue—if he is still living in the Boston area. Anything before that leaves the Celtics at the mercy of Danny Ainge’s trade deals.
DATELINE: SPORTS SATIRE
Sullinger in Mufti
As no one watches the Celtics when they go head-to-head with the New England Patriots, we are certain most Boston sports fans missed another brilliant effort by the team most deemed likely to tank, your first-place Celtics.
The Celtics blew out the New York Knickerbockers in MSG.
The vaunted three-point shooters turned out to be pea-shooters, and that would be giving Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire something of a compliment. Oh, yes, they call for World Peace off the bench.
You know they are in trouble.
Perhaps sometime after the Patriots are knocked out in the first round of the playoffs, fans will turn to the Celtics in the interim before the Red Sox retake the field—and discover joy again.
There were only a few observations to note for absentee Celtic fans.
Rajon Rondo dapperly sat on the bench with a stats sheet on his lap. If his prolonged absence has a silver lining, it is that Rondo may have discovered his next career as a coach. He has been studying battle plans like General Rommel on holiday. And, he rather dresses like Rommel in mufti.
If Coach Brad Stevens has a favorite on this team, it is not Rondo—but Jared Sullinger. And, it’s just the right combo.
John Wayne had John Ford. Robert DeNiro had Martin Scorcese. Brad Pitt still has David Fincher. Great stars have great directors, and Stevens and Sullinger may join the list of matches with great chemistry.
Sullinger has taken the cue, become outspoken on and off the court. He is the new Celtic Messiah, and you heard it here from the prophet living off desert rats.
Brad Stevens photo morphed 20 years into future.
Rookie Coach of the Boston Celtics Brad Stevens could not ignore the two-ton elephant in the Celtics locker room.
Everyone thought that Rajon Rondo, injured and rehabbing his knee, would simply dominate the new callow coach.
But not a month into the season, Rondo has not had to put on his dominatrix outfit once. Brad Stevens has proven to be simply simpatico to his mercurial point guard.
Stevens is the perfect match for temperamental point guards and frustrated court generals. Rondo and Stevens each like three-dimensional chess and will not let Boston basketball deteriorate into Hooverville hoops.
Instead of eating Coach Stevens alive, as some feared, Rondo looks like the cat that swallowed the canary. He sits on the bench nightly and admires his new coach. It is a far cry from the days of daily battles with Doc Rivers.
Instead, Rondo has put a photograph of New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick on the wall in Brad’s office. Rondo used to make trips to Foxboro like a kid standing at the window of the toy store, wishing he had one of those.
And, Stevens seems to be taking the role model to heart. When Jeff Green threw up the buzz-beater winning 3-point shot against the Heat, Brad had no visible reaction to winning the game.
This sort of behavior makes the stoical Rondo look like the man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo. When Coach Stevens speaks about sang-froid, it drives Rondo mad with passion.
Rondo has already picked out a Christmas present for Coach Stevens: it’s a gray hoodie with cutoff sleeves. The fit is just about right.
Fans and non-fans of Rondo will enjoy reading about his adventures, both satirical and nasty, in two books by Ossurworld’s Russo: RAJON RONDO: SUPERSTAR, a perennial favorite, and RAJON RONDO & THE GREEN NEBULA. Both are available for smart readers in ebook format and in softcover.