Thursday, June 19, 2008

A Celtic Team for a New Generation

Bob Ryan wrote a great piece on the cover of today's Boston Globe entitled "Greatest of the Green". He notes that since it's been 22 years since the last Celtics championship, there's literally a whole generation who don't lay claim to the rich history of Celtics lore. Ryan starts:

This was a championship for a Lost Generation of Boston Celtics fans.

These are people for whom Bill Russell, the greatest winner in American team sports, and Bob Cousy, the legendary "Houdini of the Hardwood," are like figures out of King Arthur's tales. These are people for whom John Havlicek, basketball's consummate 'sixth man," and Dave Cowens, the mercurial redheaded center, are as personally relevant as comic book characters. These are people for whom even the great Larry Bird is just some guy wearing short-shorts who pops up occasionally on ESPN Classic.

These are the people who text instant observations to friends in Singapore. And these are the people who hungered for a Celtics championship they could call their own, one accomplished in their building with their heroes. Celtics championship No. 17 belongs to them.

It's really a great point. Now I remember the Celtics of the 80's with Bird, McHale and Parrish. Of course I was living in New York and rooting for the Knicks, but I remember them well. But I didn't really have a real appreciation of the great Celtics teams that came before them.

In Ryan's article he lists the Top 10 Celtics teams of all time and ranks this years' team #2. But in reading through the article, the write up on the '56-57 Celtics (ranked #8) blew my mind:
"Red Auerbach's personal favorite title, simply because it was the first. Rookies Russell (25 points, 32 rebounds) and Tom Heinsohn (37 points, 23 rebounds) carried the team to an epic double-overtime seventh game victory over the St. Louis Hawks. Many old-timey Celtics fans went to their graves swearing this was the greatest game they'd ever seen."

The combined 55 rebounds by Russell and Heinsohn (who I mostly know as the Celtics bumbling announcer and world-class homer) are more than the ENTIRE Celtics team had in any game in the playoffs...and that was just from 2 guys. It really goes to show how even current basketball junkies like me don't truly have the perspective of the rich history of the game. It's that same worship of today's players that skew our view of history. I mean even this week it looks like people finally put aside the myth that Kobe was the new Jordan and those guys played at the same time, ableit at different ends of their careers. But if you can't have perspective within a decade, it's no wonder that so many discount the accomplishments of those that played before we were even born. But it's wrong just the same.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Congrats to Pierce, KG, Ray and Doc. Good guys can finish first.

Mets Mess

Wow, it's getting as hard to be a Mets fan as it was to be a Knicks fan under the Isiah regime. As many have said, perhaps most vociferously Buster Olney, the Bob Irsay-like firing of Randolph was handled so poorly that you don't even want to be associated with the team and, much like with Isiah, you feel like rooting against the Mets just to ensure that Omar Minaya gets fired too.

But it really shows what a mess the whole team is. Not only is the team poorly constructed from a talent perspective, but the chemistry is beyond awful. Take a look at some of the comments from Newsday:

  • Wallace Matshews of Newsday makes Bush43 look like a Mensa-member compared to Minaya and the Wilpons. Jon Stewart, a huge Mets fan that ridicules the sitting President on a daily basis, would be turning in his grave if he was dead. Maybe today he wishes he was.
    "It took Manuel all of one batter -- Reyes -- to learn first-hand what Randolph had been dealing with for the past two years: a roster of prima donnas as ungovernable as downtown Baghdad and as unaccountable as the Bush White House."

  • Matthews also calls the Wilpons the "worst owners in town". When you consider that the list includes James Dolan, Hank "Maxi-me" Steinbrenner and Charles Wang, it's really a staggering critique. Unfortunately it may be accurate.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Celts Win in Incredible Comeback

Wow. That was a great game...if you're not a Laker fan. There will be a lot of great stories written about the game, but I'm shocked. I really thought the game was over mid-way through the first quarter and pretty sure it was after they were down 18 at the half. But another great third quarter, and really a dominating second half (57-33) turned what was once a 24-point deficit into a 6 point win.

But the really amazing part was listening to the post-game commentary. It's amazing to hear Michael Wilbon second-guess Phil Jackson's rotations and hear Jeff Van Gundy call Doc Rivers coaching "masterful". I wonder what "The Sports Guy" is thinking about Doc tonight. I'm sure he'll say that Doc Rivers was lucky that Perkins sprained his shoulder and he had no choice but to go to the small lineup. And in retrospect to hear people praise the Boston bench, the very same people who at the beginning ofthe season talked about how the Celtics may have the "Big 3", but had maybe the worst 4-12 roster in the league -- yes, I'm talking to you Mr. Wilbon.

Most interesting was to listen to the players and coaches in the post-game intervie Doc looked like he's won multiple championships talking about how it's not about winning 4 games in a series, but having to win 4 individual games. Paul Pierce sounded supremely confident, talking about how the plan is to close out the series in LA on Father's Day, while acknowledging that the closeout game is always the hardest game to win.

On the other hand, the Lakers sounded defeated. Phil Jackson started out his post-game interview stating that the series is not over, but his voice and his demeanor didn't make it look like he believed it at all.

Kobe had the funniest comments though:

  • When asked how the team will respond to such a debilitating loss after having such a large lead: "A lot of wine, a lot of beer. A couple of shots, maybe 20."

  • When asked 'what happened' to blow such a big lead: "We just wet the bed,. "A nice big one, too. One of the ones you can't put a towel over. It was terrible.."

Pure comedy.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

McCain v. Obama on the Economy

It's almost funny, if it weren't so sad and predictable, how both sides are trying to cast the other as the continuation of another failed President's policies. Obama calls McCain "Bush's Third Term" and McCain retorts that Barak's tax plan will take us "...back to the policies of the '60s and '70s that failed", invoking Jimmy Carter.

From my view, McCain's linking of Obama to Carter is well off the rails from an economic perspective, but may have some other interesting overtones.

From an economics POV, Barak's policies are more about getting back to the winning policies of the 90's under the Clinton administration, not Carter's. And strangely enough, much of the characteristics of the Carter years (high inflation, rising unemployment, rising gas prices and growing budget and trade deficits) resemble the current economy under Bush 43. And McCain is looking to extend much of the same economic policies that Bush promulgated, most notably the Bush tax cuts...which McCain voted against in 2001 and 2003, but now supports wholeheartedly. Kind of like "I voted against them until I voted for them", perhaps a weird homage paid to Senator Kerry who is seen as the anti-McCain from a Vietnam War perspective.

Now the other thought I've had on McCain's Carter-Obama linkage, is whether there is an ulterior motive of also trying to link them from an Israel policy point of view. Many Jewish voters are already concerned about Barak's support of Israel, partially because Hillary questioned it, on top of the fairly blatant lies about Barak's "Muslim upbringing" while living in Indonesia. While Carter was probably best known for delivering peace between Israel and Egypt in the Camp David Accords, for which he won the Nobel Peace Prize, Carter has recently acted as if he is a founding member of Hamas, pounding Israel at every opportunity. Perhaps the most inflammatory statement being about the existence of more than 150 nuclear warheads in Israel's arsenal (which I think they should use one of to nuke Plains, GA...if the warheads do truly exist). It was a truly idiotic statement by Carter which could accomplish nothing other than to weaken Israel and prop up both Hamas and Iran's push towards becoming a nuclear nation. I can't fathom the upside in pushing for either of those objectives. I think someone should give Carter a CAT-scan as he has clearly suffered some sort of head injury.

Mets Blowing it Again

It's just ridiculous. The Mets come off of a horrific road trip, falling below .500 again. I can't take it. Today is not helping. After almost blowing a terrific start by Mike Pelfrey yesterday, only to be saved by Carlos Beltran's 13th inning heroics, they blew another awesome outing by a starting pitchter -- this time Johann Santana -- giving up a 4-run lead after 7 innings and look like they will lose.

Mark Hermann wrote a nice piece in Newsday on how the team is feeling pain of the losses as much as their fans do. But this is just killing me. The worst part is my brother-in-law is a big Phillies fan. There's just no avoiding the fact that despite all the renewed hope resulting from the acquisition of Santana, this is a deeply flawed team. There is no timely hitting or pitching and apparently very little heart.

This just in. It's official. The Mets lost 5-4 in 10. Ugh :(

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Harvey Korman -- We'll Miss You

It was very sad for me to read that Harvey Korman died last week at the age of 81. Growing up he was one of my favorite actors and my memories of him are vivid. Probably my favorite movie of all time was Mel Brooks' "Blazing Saddles". Korman famously portrayed the conniving Attorney General "Hedley Lamarr", trying to force the residents of Rock Ridge from their town.

And Korman also starred in one of my favorite TV shows, "The Carol Burnett Show", one of the last taped-live vaudvillean comedy sketch shows and was the perfect foil to Carol Burnett and co-star Tim Conway. The best moments of course were those when Korman began to lose it during one of the sketches. Watching him and the rest of the cast try to make it through the sketch without completely breaking up was often much funnier than the actual content of the sketch itself.

One of his most memorable roles was one that few even know he played...the voice of the Great Gazoo, the little green alien who tormented Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble, referring to them with the famously derogatory term "dum-dums".

He was a funny guy and will be missed, and remembered, by me.

Dunkin Donuts Hash Browns

This morning I had the new Dunkin Donuts "oven toasted" hash browns. They were really good. They remind me a lot of potato latkes that I have during Passover (although not near as good as the ones my wife makes). It made me really wish that DD also served applesauce or sour cream as a side.

I just hope that they keep them around or at least bring them back for Passover. There's never anything to eat for breakfast (how many days in a row can you really eat matzah). At least then I can have something with my coffee.