Celtic Pride


On Monday afternoon, Celtics President of Basketball Operations met with media. Appearing to have spent the past 7 days listening to early Counting Crows records, Ainge sulked his way through roughly twenty minutes of questions about the trade that sent Doc Rivers to the Los Angeles Clippers. Making it quite clear that he was dissappointed in Doc Rivers’ decision to walk away, 2 years after he signed a handsome 5 year extension that seemingly meant the coach would maintain the reigns throughout Boston’s rebuild effort.

And to a degree, Ainge has the right to be upset. But he’s also smart enough to understand the hypocricy of his anger.

In an interview with Bill Simmons this past April, Larry Bird spoke about loyalty – specifically Red Auerbach’s refusal to break up the original Big 3. According to Bird, Auerbach refused offers that could’ve potentially sparked a rebuilding effort out of loyalty: Larry had given his back to the Celtics, McHale his foot and knee. They had worked too hard, and had given too much to be thrown aside in the name of ‘business.’

He might not have sacrificed the health of his body to the degree of his Celtic bretherens, but Paul Pierce has given fifteen quality years to this organization. If you want to speak about loyalty of your employees you have to show an ounce of it: And desperately trying to trade a player whose given a decade and half of his life to this team to the Clevelands and Atlantas of the world (for Josh Smith nonetheless) isn’t accomplishing that.

If Ainge wants a level of ‘loyalty’ within the organization, he has to ocasionally step out of his ‘strictly business’ bubble and do what’s right, and this is certainly is his chance to do so:

Approach Paul Pierce and ask him what he’d like the Celtics do, or come to expect the turnstyle approach that has led to the departure of Ray Allen and Doc Rivers to continue. You can’t have it both ways.

The 20/20 Experience and Kanye West: A Beef and an Album Explained

To many, the recent war of words between Kanye West & Justin Timberlake may seem completely random. To others, including the people at Buzzfeed it’s a middle school battle of the besties – who is REALLY Hov’s BFF? Each example as wrong as the other. Because the Timberlake-West beef is not random, nor completely juvenille – it’s a heavyweight title match nearly a decade in the making.

To catch the uninformed up: Kanye West  made headlines in late February by saying “I got love for Hov, but I’m not fucking with that Suit & Tie,’ amongst other things during a mid-show rant. Timberlake then returned fire on ‘Saturday Night Live’ during a performance of said-song by replacing the line ‘Shit’s so sick, got a hit and picked up a habit’ with ‘My hit’s so sick got rappers acting dramatic.’

The source of the beef (bravado) can really be best explained by this quote taken from a 2007 interview Kanye West did with XXL magazine.

“My biggest inspiration and biggest competition is Justin Timberlake,” the 29-year-old rapper tells XXL magazine in its October issue, on newsstands Sept. 11. “He’s the only other person that gets an across-the-board response and respect level — black radio, white radio.”

“If Justin hadn’t come out and killed the game, I can’t say that my album, singles and videos would be on the same level that they’re on,” he says.

We push each other. I look at me and Justin like Prince and Michael Jackson in their day.”

To this point  West’s career has been more Jordan than Jackson when it comes to Mikes. After Magic Johnson retired, Chicago’s Michael Jordan found himself unrivaled – perhaps his most worthy adversary was on his own team (though a clear second best) – chomping at the bit for an opponent to say or do something that he could use as ammunition to bring his game to the next level. It was something he HAD to do because while the Barkleys and the Malones of the world were good, they weren’t truly worthy adversaries. West entered his prime when FutureSexLoveSounds was dominating the radio. He stayed and kept making great albums, Timberlake left to make movies. In the interim other pop and rap acts have come and gone, but West stayed unrivaled at the top, unquestionably levels above his closest competition.

Which is why it’s funny – and perhaps not that far fetched – to mentally picture Kanye West in a dark high rise like the Die Hard villain he’s cast himself to be, receiving the present he’s both most feared and desired.

Because Timberlake’s The 20/20 Experience is every bit of the masterpiece that West’s My Dark Twisted Fantasy was. A top to bottom instant classic that’ll unquestionably find itself #1 on the majority of ‘Best Album of the Year’ lists come year end.

And it’ll be well deserved. Because again, much like West’s 2010 efforts, The 20/20 Experience is a great record. Not a compilation of songs with radio friendly hits dispersed evenly, but a piece of music that commands that you sit down and listen to it from it’s first second to it’s last. Sure, there’s stand out tracks – but they stand out in the context of the album. Suit & Tie wasn’t meant to be a radio single, it was meant to be the second song on a great record.

Timberlake weaves his way throughout the album like a modern-day Al Green opening the gates to his own personal, sexualized Chocolate Factory. A look into a world that we envy and enjoy, even if we don’t 100% completely understand. Happy, poppy bookmarks with a surprisingly unpredictable, and even occasionally dark, tunnel of terror like middle. 

And it’s the completion of a masterpiece that leads us to where we are today: With any doubts about musical staying-power removed, Timberlake stands strong as the adversary West at least claimed he’s always wanted: The Frazier to his Ali. The Superman to his Batman. The Jackson to his Prince.

I’m not sure who makes the next move or when it happens, but I look forward to it. Til then, I’ve got another couple hundred listens of The 20/20 Experience in me.

Understanding the Celtics Without #9


The Monday after it was announced that Rajon Rondo would require season ending surgery on his ACL I didn’t feel the need to write anything. Wasn’t really a reason for it. Twitter covered the initial, perhaps overdramatic reaction and a day later it seemed like every other angle was covered in local papers and blogs. But after the Celtics went on a predictable four game win-streak Celtic Nation seems more divided than ever on the value of their all-star Point Guard.

Bill Simmons once wrote that rooting for Rondo was like owning a cat stating that he “disappears, you can’t count on him, you can’t figure him out…” Funny, but not entirely accurate. Because after watching Rondo helm the reigns of my favorite team I don’t think it’s all that difficult to figure out ‘the league’s most mysterious man.’

Rajon Rondo’s brain is both his gift and his curse. He sees things on the court – particularly in transition – that no one else can. He pays an incredible amount of attention to the importance of delivering passes both on target and in rhythm. And while he’s known around the league as a poor shooter; when he’s forced to shoot, or when he steps into a shot confidently he’s quite talented. Likewise, when he has too much time to think about a shot, or is dared to do so he can often look about as bad as a middle school girl shooting the ball for the first time. If you were to watch a tape of only the release of his jump shots you’d probably be able to guess every one that went in based on the fluidity of the release.

Likewise, it comes as no coincidence that 20 of his career 27 career triple doubles have come on national television – he’s painfully aware that at 6’1, 170 pounds* he simply can’t take the kind of contact, or use up the kind of energy he does when the light shines the brightest 82 games a year. Which is why he’s so beloved nationally, while being so polarizing locally. He’s the Senator’s Wife – perfect when the lights are on, unwilling to abandon her sweatpants every other night: That’s why you’ll hear cries that this team is better without Rondo in a four game winning streak that include wins over the Kings, Magic and Chris Paul-less Clippers (games Rondo likely would metaphorically ‘no-show’) but not when he’s  averaging nearly 21 points, 11 assists, 7 rebounds and 2 steals in a seven game series against the eventual NBA Champion Miami Heat.

Now I don’t mean to say that to completely discount the Celtics current winning streak by any means. Nor to suggest that they don’t have a puncher’s chance in this season’s playoffs. Because it has been impressive, and in this Eastern Conference they certainly do. And while the Celtics aren’t necessarily better without Rondo, the offensive sets they’re running without him are. And these things don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

When the current Rondo-less Celtics offense is clicking  in the half court – and not incessantly being run through isolation plays for Paul Pierce – the sets are being run through Kevin Garnett. Garnett, is a gift from the NBA playbook gods. He’s seven feet tall, his mid range game is flawless. He’s an incredible passer for his size. He’s an excellent finisher at the rim, and he’s been painfully underutilized over the past few years.

Watch the video below (it should start at 1:15, but if doesn’t you’ll have to skip forward to it):

Courtney Lee brings up the ball and finds Garnett in the high post. Since Garnett is a capable shooter his man has to stay close to him, while also respecting his ability to drive. From the wing Pierce utilizes a Lee screen and then goes behind Garnett to use his body as a screen.

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Pierce then reuses Garnett as a screener and drives. Bringing his man with him as well as Garnett’s.

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Correctly, Pierce then passes back to Garnett. Since, despite his size, Garnett is a premiere shooter from midrange the Clippers need to bring weak side help leaving Jason Terry open.

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Unfortunately, Garnett’s pass gets slightly tipped. Had it not Terry would’ve been able to either shoot the 3, or pass off to Bass (top corner) if his man charged. The tip of the pass allows the Clippers to momentarily reset their defense, though not for long as quickly Garnett sets a pick to free up Pierce towards the center of the court.

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Garnett, able to set a full (and maybe slightly illegal) screen means that his man is forced to either abandon Garnett or let Pierce shoot an uncontested, sixteen foot, Paul Pierce special.

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Jordan opts to defend Pierce, which leaves Garnett open for an easy lay-in. Even if Blake Griffin (closest to Garnett) had rotated to the center faster, Brandon Bass (again, top corner) for a wide open midrange jumper.

This is a highlight, but this is the kind of things using KG brings – Seventeen seconds, three Garnett screens that aid in maximizing the skill set of Paul Pierce, Jason Terry and Brandon Bass. That’s how you run a great offense.

The key is that the ball doesn’t start in Rondo’s hands and end in it. Forcing four other guys to watch, hoping to get a chance to catch and shoot. That’s what they’ve been doing for the greater portion of the first half of this season – Not really effective on nights when Rondo’s engaged, painful on nights he wasn’t.

Rajon Rondo is more than capable of running this kind of offense.The Spurs have run sets like this for years, and Tony Parker has never been a good 3 point shooter either (career .314).  Because while Rondo can’t stand in the corner like Lee does, he could make a stronger challenge at the beginning of the play (Lee pretty passively brings up the ball, never a real threat to attack), hit an open midrange shot off the ball (despite his reputation, this shot chart clearly shows that Rondo’s midrange game has drastically improved to an above average level), or cut without the ball.

The good news is what I’ve already said. Rondo is a student of the game, and a fierce competitor. I think he sees these things, absorbs it, and uses it when he comes back. Now, if he only had a good deer antler-spray guy…


* I’m guilty of it myself – but I think not enough is said about that. People want him to dominate like a Lebron or a Durant every night. Put aside the fact that he’s not a particularly great free throw shooter, I just don’t think his body can withstand getting to the free throw line 4 or 5 times a game over the course of 82 games.

The Planet Fun Power Hour

Introducing the grand daddy of all Power Hours. Mostly because there really isn’t any others on the internet…

Youtube limits non “director users” to well below 60, and a search of ‘Power Hour’ on DailyMotion results in a lot of early 1990’s WCW matches. So, yes, I think I’m ready to declare this as without a shadowofadoubt the greatest Power Hour of all time.

It’s an assembly of viral videos for sixty minutes. Or fifty nine minutes and thirty seven seconds to be exact. If you need an extra thirty seconds you can watch this video that got cut at the last second.

I did the best I could of picking videos that not EVERYONE in the world has seen while incorporating a handfull of classics. But to be fair, for all I know all these might be classics at this point. I’m 29 years old, I legally can’t watch Tosh.0 anymore.

You’ll figure the flow out quickly – Some videos aren’t a minute. Some videos will have multiple drinks in it. Some will be fifteen seconds. Deal with it. It’s not rocket science – if you see a number on the screen drink. Or not. Heck, it’s a bunch of really funny videos you can use to kill an hour.

I’ve got to give credit to Videogum. A fantastic site that I’ve frequented half a billion times over the past three years. I’d guess about 90% of these videos have been brought to my attention through the brilliant people there.

Jimmy Buffet has made a career off of being a terrible musician whose capitalized on the brilliant idea that drinking in a social setting is fun. So maybe I can net a free beer, and a few extra clicks out of this.

Editor’s note: I know XboxLive has a daily motion app, and I’d have to believe the Playstation Network does as well. So this is pretty easy to put on a television

The Billion Dollar Game


EDITOR’S NOTE: Sorry about the formatting on this, I know it can be a little rough. I’m no html wizard, and sometimes when you go in and out of preset formats things can go a little haywire.

Also, sorry all the quotes are yelling at you. Pretend that we’re your usual NFL guys trying to make a point.

On his January 8th podcast The B.S Report Bill Simmons and guest Jalen Rose drafted a hypothetical 9 on 9 ‘One Game For a Billion Dollars” to  determine the best current players, and to figure out how valuable of a player Dwight Howard is today. I disagreed, pretty thoroughly disagreed with a lot of the picks and one particular omission. So I decided to dial up Bob Sacramano, replicate the exercise and see how it goes. Please vote at the end.

So without further adieu, The Billion Dollar Game

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