Posts Tagged ‘Paul Pierce’

By Phil Bausk

All-Star weekend in Los Angeles and all eyes are on an LA Clipper?!?!?! Donald Sterling is rolling over in his grave…Well maybe not yet,but I am sure a lot of Clips fans have already combined funds to buy him a cemetery plot as far away as LA as possible.

Blake Griffin will be the main attraction this weekend in Saturday night’s Slam Dunk Contest, though the buzz around Justin Bieber’s Celebrity game debut may overshadow all news, including that revolution going on somewhere in Africa. (I say the over/under on “Never Say Never” commercials tonight is 8.5.)

Griffin, who has been spoiling fans with highlight reel dunks all season long, will be going against himself Saturday night. Serge Ibaka, Javale Mcgee, and Demar Derozan do not offer much competition (though maybe someone can sneak a W past him), and Griffin is expected to perform a one man show, as The Akron Scammers of the league continue to shy away from the Dunk contest (Lebron, remember when you said you guaranteed you were going to be in it? We should’ve seen “The Decision” coming from that point on.)

While the Dunk Contest has struggled in recent years, mainly because Gerald Green is playing somewhere in Russia now, there is still a certain amount of excitement that surrounds it. While odds are nothing crazy is going to happen, there is a certain theatricality that we hope to experience when it comes in each Saturday night of All-Star weekend. Dwight Howard offered us with some excitement for a bit, but then he claimed he was done with the contest as well, yet he still contends he is a better dunker than Blake Griffin. So let me ask you Dwight, How are you NOT in  this year’s contest to prove your point? I don’t care about the dunk counting graphic ESPN throws up once every few weeks. I would much rather see you prove your point on the floor Saturday night. Sure you have won a dunk contest, but again, the competition wasn’t too stiff.

Either way, our expectations as fans for Blake’s performance tomorrow night are extremely high. Will he meet those expectations? Who knows, but the fact that there is enough excitement to generate interest in this year’s dunk contest is definitely a step in the right direction. Maybe Blake will ask Timothea Mozgov to come help him with a dunk, where Blake ends up breaking Mozgov’s face and spirit, and Griffin is standing triumphantly on top of the backboard being showered with roses. Either way, now that the spotlight is off of Kobe Bryant in La La Land, I am sure he can cheat on his wife without any repercussions. (Does that huge diamond ring he bought her in Colorado a few years back count as a repercussion?)

Outside of the Dunk contest, there are a few other intriguing events that will take place this weekend. Tonight, there is the Celebrity basketball game followed by the Rookie-Sophomore game. I think the time line of events for those things unfold pretty predictably. Jimmy Kimmel and Bill Simmons, the two coaches for this game, will get thrown out for being super annoying, while Justin Bieber brings in the 12-17 year old demographic to cheer him on every time he touches the ball. Michael Rapaport will do his best Brian Scalabrine impersonation, missing corner three pointers, and annoying everyone who comes within 20 feet of the basketball court. The final score of the game won’t matter, but the fact that we will get to see Jason Alexander stand right next to Bill Walton will give the older crowd a flashback of that Danny Devito and Arnold Schwarzenegger flick, “Twins.”

Moving forward we have the Rookies against the Sophomores. This game is a pick up game with some of the most athletic guys in the league and has created some exciting moments. I remember Jason “White Chocolate’s” Williams’ elbow pass to Raef Lafrentz, and no Nuggets and Celtics fans, Lafrentz didn’t dunk the ball, and I am pretty sure he never has dunked a ball in his adult life. Kevin Durant’s performance a couple of years ago was memorable, as well as David Lee’s 14-14 from the field exhibition. I expect to see a lot of nice alley oops with the amount of talented big men in the game, and I wouldn’t be surprised if John Wall doesn’t break a few ankles on the way to the MVP award for the game.

Saturday night is really where the fun beings. Due to the fact that the team shooting competition is really just a time filler, I am going to move on to the Skills Competition, brought to us by the classy people of Taco Bell. I love this event because it tends to have the most overall talent than all of other competitions. Chris Paul, Stephen Curry, Derrick Rose, John Wall, and Russell Westbrook will square off against one another, going through an obstacle course that would probably take players like Sebastian Telfiar and Howard Eisley the entire weekend to complete. I believe Stephen Curry is going to come out on top of this one because his team has the nicest jerseys, and his eyes can make you forget all about life’s troubles (It doesn’t hurt that he could be mistaken for Miles Austin’s son).

Up next is the 3 point competition, where defending champ Paul Pierce will try to fend off teammate, and new 3-point King, Ray Allen and repeat, which would put him in a class with the infamous Jason Kapono, something I am sure Pierce has been spending his entire career trying to do. Also participating is Kevin Durant, along with James Jones, Dorell Wright, and Daniel Gibson. Gibson may be auditioning for other teams this weekend, while Wright and Jones may just be looking for a little more cash to spend at the strip club. At the end of the day, I think Ray Ray will take it, as this has been his year so far, and in a year where he passes Reggie Miller for the most 3-pointers of all time, how can he not win this event?!?!?

Last, and certainly not least, is the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest. Now the easy thing to do would be to just pick Blake Griffin, put the bet in on sportsbook.com, and forget that you even made that simple of a bet. Well I think Blake, who has everything going for him, is going to LOSE tomorrow night’s contest. I think Washington Wizard’s Javale Mcgee is going to pull off the upset, and be the Justin Morneau to Blake Griffin’s Josh Hamilton in the 2008 Home Run Derby.  Mcgee plays for the Wizards, a team that clearly doesn’t spend much practice time going over plays and defensive assignments. Mcgee, an athletic 7 ft Center out of the Dwight Howard mold, has probably been practicing a few dunks, and will have John Wall there to assist him. I think Mcgee will surprise everyone by  taking this contest, and then much like past champion, and former high school crush Gerald Green, he will be forgotten about as soon as March rolls around.

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By Phil Bausk

Most of us start watching sports at a relatively young age. If we were lucky enough, our parents or older siblings took us to games and helped us chose which teams we would spend the rest of our lives rooting for. Bonds are formed between fathers, sons, and brothers, and one of life’s paths is carved out for us to follow diligently and loyally, though we are still in the cocoon stages of fandom before blossoming into a true sports fanatic.

As the years mature so do we, both physically (wink, wink) and mentally. We start to figure out what the important things in life are. Clearly, certain things are more important to us at different points in our lives. The opposite sex doesn’t even become a factor till the end of Jr. High School, though in today’s blow-first ask questions later society, I think the 8 and 9 year olds are getting in on the action as well.

While sex becomes more important as time goes on, I found that school became less important as I got older. Teachers didn’t care for what I had to say and that immediately would turn me away from any class. School was just something that had to be done, not something that I cared about. One Bachelors degree later, I am where most people are, at a 9-5 job, staring aimlessly at a computer screen while trying to save some ESPN.com articles for when I have to make a bathroom run.

So where do sports come into all of this? I have found in my conversations with other people in life, that sports are not restricted to one time period in someone’s life. Some people have had more intense sports experiences as a child, while others didn’t get into sports until college or later. Whether its your group of friends growing up, or perhaps parents who were more involved in culturally sophisticated endeavors, a child is really only going to get into sports from an outside influence.

For me, sports were a big part of my family’s dynamic. My father taught me about the Red Sox and Celtics, my brother was, and unfortunately still is, a Mets fan, and my mother would just yell at me whenever the Yankees beat the Red Sox. There was one sport, however, that while I loved to play, I never had a favorite team to root for, and that was today’s most popular sport, football. Being that I copied whatever my father did, I was going to listen to him about which team to root for when it came to the National Football League. However, my father wasn’t really into any specific football team. He would leisurely root for the Jets and the Colts, but he was more concerned about the advancements and regressions in the sport, such as how there were no more puddles on the field, or how television announcers had become to bad over time.

My brother grew up a NY Giants fan, though he never attempted to persuade me to root for them. I think he knew that since I was always trying to beat him in sports or video games, that I would never agree to root for the Giants if he was rooting for them as well. Me and my brother are very close, and have been since I was born. I know that growing up, he let me win a lot of games we played, and allowed me to hang out with his friends, even though he is 10 years older than I am. While we did all of these things together, there is still that sibling rivalry in most families that I believe is instilled in children at birth. I could never find myself rooting for the Giants, especially as I was already geared to hate New York teams with my affinity for the Boston Red Sox.

One Sunday afternoon, I turned on the TV to see what games were on, or if  there was a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles episode on. I saw this marvelous stadium, with fireworks shooting as the players left a giant helmet with a big blue star on the side. I could feel the energy coming from the TV, as both teams got ready for the kickoff. One of the teams was the NY Giants that I had already loathed for no real good reason. The other was a team decked out in all white, and had a swagger (A word that didn’t exist yet) about them that i was immediately drawn to. That team was the Dallas Cowboys.

Growing up, the Cowboys won 3 Super Bowls, and while I was happy that they had won, admittedly, I was too young to truly appreciate the feat that they had accomplished during that era. For me, sports, especially football, took on a whole new meaning once I reached high school. I was playing sports at a much more competitive level and I had somewhat of an idea of how these legends of the gridiron prepared for games. Unfortunately at this time, the Dallas Cowboys had become one of  the most mediocre teams in the NFL, and I was stuck praying for some sort of reversal of fortune in my pathetic sports world (Thank you 2004 NY Yankees). At this point in my life, I was on the edge of my seat for every Pedro Martinez pitch, for every Paul Pierce step back jumper, and every Drew Bledsoe incomplete pass. This meant that sports were slowly taking over my life.

After the Red Sox won the World Series, my sports world turned upside-down. The Red Sox went on to win another championship in 2007, and the Celtics won for the first time in over 20 years, with a title of their own in 2008. Even the Chicago Blackhawks, the team I admittedly care about the least, were able to pull off a Stanley Cup victory in the prime of my sports life. While these events have helped me through certain points in my life, there is still one thing I would like to see before I hit the “Stephon Marbury” years of my career as a sports fanatic.

For the last few seasons, the Dallas Cowboys have been one of the preseason favorites to make it to the Super Bowl, or at least contend for a Super Bowl, but as the saying goes, championships aren’t won in September. Much like the rest of the Dallas media, I had fallen in love in those last few seasons with a man named Tony Romo…

Undrafted out of Eastern Illinois University, Romo subbed in for starter Drew Bledsoe during the first half of the 2006-07 season. After some early struggles, he settled down and helped lead the Cowboys to the playoffs. And then it happened…. the moment that has defined Romo’s career even to this day.

After driving his team the length of the field, Romo was in to hold the snap for game winning field goal. He fumbled the snap, scrambled towards the end-zone, and was tackled at the 1 yard-line, ending the Cowboys season. The image of Romo hunched over, grabbing his face mask resonates in the mind of Cowboys fans everywhere. As the seasons went on, so did the playoff disappointments. A disastrous 2nd half against my brother’s giants, along with a horrendous 3 quarters against the Minnesota Vikings helped strengthen the case against Romo ever becoming a Super Bowl winning quarterback.

It is easy to pin everything on the celebrity QB who dated a knockout, then a blonde sex symbol, and then dumped a fat chick, with two of those being the same person. However, Romo has done a solid job as the starting QB and I feel comfortable with him at the helm, even in games past December 1st.

The team has had a lot of questions over the last few years, such as its secondary, and how it is inexcusable to have Dave Campo as the cornerbacks coach when he hasn’t done anything positive in his entire career as a professional coach. The linebackers starting alongside All-World LB Demarcus Ware have been over-hyped since day 1 with the exception of Bradie James. Greg Ellis was over the hill, Anthony Spencer looks lost, Bobby Carpenter looked like a mentally slow Clay Matthews, and Keith Brooking needs to start taking some form of medication (Though this clip is awesome). Others have come and failed, and it leaves us all wishing Dat Nguyen would suit up and come out of retirement for just one magical season.

On offense, the skill positions have been tended to relatively well, but the big contracts doled out to offensive lineman have worked only in spurts. Leonard Davis isn’t worth the money he is making now, and some of it should be given to Doug Free. Marc Columbo hasn’t played a good game of football in about 18 months and his career looks to be over. Kyle Kosier was an injury prone starter for the Detroit Lions…enough said.

Something has to be done with personnel selections by this team’s front office and that means that Jerry Jones has to give some leeway to Jason Garrett and his coaching staff about what players he wants to put on the field. While Jones has said he would not tinker with Garrett’s roster decisions, it is more than likely Jones’ two cents will be heard come draft day.

But again, here were are with another off-season to tease my generation, the generation that really hasn’t seen a very good Dallas Cowboys team. My generation should not be allowed to fall back on the dynasty of the 1990’s, we were too young to appreciate everything that was going on during that time. Cowboys fans, when was the last time you can remember celebrating so ferociously that you let out curse words you only use during sex or when you stub your toe? If you cheered that way during the Eagles playoff game last year, that shows how much the Cowboys have fallen since its glory days.

Now here in 2011, we sit, patiently waiting to see what Jerry Jones and Co. will do to improve next year’s team that can be anywhere from a 6 win team to the division champ. We wonder if he will go with a need at the draft, or take another game-breaker like Dez Bryant.

(Quick thought here, how awesome does Dez Bryant look? Forget about his overconfidence and his inability to respect other people, he looks like the Akron Scammer in a football jersey. He runs faster than everyone, he jumps higher than everyone, and he catches anything that his his massive banana hands. I get why some teams passed on him in the draft, but still, plenty of teams could have used a number 1 WR , I’m looking at you  San Diego and Jacksonville. Regardless of his attitude, the guy clearly had enough talent to be selected in the top 20, and I can’t remember a number 1 WR coming out of college besides Andre Johnson or Larry Fitzgerald who didn’t have some sort of swagger problem.)

My father always told me that when you win, you act like a gentleman. You go out there, shake your opponents hands with sincerity, and then go and celebrate with your teammates. I watched the 2004 World Series with my father, and we watched something he thought he would never see in his lifetime, a Red Sox championship. We hugged, kissed, and even shared some tears with one another, but that was it. There was the excusable scream when Keith Foulke nabbed that Edgar Renteria grounder but that was it.

In 2007, there was the mandatory scream when Jonathan Papelbon struck out Seth Smith to win the ’07 series. My father called me, we exchanged pleasantries for about an hour and that was it. After the Celtics derailed the Lakers in 2008, I drove home, gave my father a kiss when he was asleep, and we spoke about it the next day in great detail. While I am from the generation of baggy shorts, coarse language, and mainstream rap music, I have managed to gain some sense of humility through my father, compared with a lot of people in our generation.

I have been blessed in the past decade in my world of sports, perhaps the most important decade of sports in my entire life. I would say I am right in the middle of my “Kevin Durant” years of liking sports, as I am hitting my prime and still have a good amount of time left before a family, a real job, and responsibility drag me away from some of the things I love. Before I fade into the abyss known as adulthood, I would like to celebrate a Cowboys Super Bowl, not for gloating or for superficial reasons, but rather so that when I watch with my kids, they can see me get emotional and I can try and teach them how to win, something that the Dallas Cowboys should be trying to learn this off-season.

By Phil Bausk

Game 4 of the 2003-2004 NBA Playoffs. That was the last time there was a big event at Madison Square Garden that didn’t involve the New York Rangers, Big East basketball, or Dave Matthews (Frankly, other concerts don’t count as a big event. You know it’s a big event when 3 out of every 4 people on Facebook have a status about it and DMB takes the cake on that one).

Last night’s game between the New York Knicks and the Boston Celtics was one of the best sporting events I have ever attended in my young life. MSG was rocking, and there was a great scene during the pregame introductions where fans held orange glow-in-the-dark thundersticks, illuminating the Garden, and creating a tremendous atmosphere. The Celtics won this thriller on a game-winning, mid-range jumper off the hands of Paul “The Truth” Pierce. The Knicks nearly won it at the buzzer, as Ama’re Stoudemire hit a 3-pointer, but it was just milliseconds after time had run out.  The crowd was excited, the players were excited, but more importantly, the media was excited.

This was the sort of game that basketball in New York needed. The Knicks needed to be tested by one of the best teams in the league. The country needed to see how the Knicks would react in the spotlight. But what New York basketball really needed was  a reason for Knicks fans to begin to loathe the Celtics, other then the obvious Boston-New York dynamic (There were a few “Boston Sucks” chants dispersed amongst the crowd. Remember when that used to be true? For the past decade, Boston has an upper hand on this Boston-NY rivalry, but that’s for a separate article).

The Knicks faithful got their catalyst to hate the Celtics, when Pierce spent all week denying that the Celtics and the Knicks were a legitimate rivalry. He even said that the Knicks and Celts will probably become a rivalry when he is out of the league. Pierce is known to be brash when it comes to making public statements, and the platform of a Knicks-Celts rivalry probably made him salivate. He knew he could go a few days refuting the idea of a rivalry, only to come to the Garden and play his heart out, hit the game-winning shot, and then bow to the crowd at center court, infuriating the entire borough of Manhattan.

It was easy to tell from the start that this game meant a lot to both teams. While it meant more to the Knicks, both morally and in the standings, the Celtics refused to be beaten by a team they didn’t see as their equal. Pierce, who may be the most arrogant athlete in Boston sports history, appeared to play his heart out. He continually drove to the hoop, demanded the ball in crunch time, and ultimately won a game for the C’s that they maybe shouldn’t have won.

This is what I, as well as every other Celtics fan, love about “The Truth.” He gives us 110%. There are few athletes in sports who have as much talent as Pierce, and go out and compete like he does (Luckily there are 3 more of them are on the Celtics in Allen, Garnett, and Rondo). He may run his mouth a couple times a year, but Pierce either backs it up, or will try his best to do so.

For over 900 games, Pierce has played his heart out for a wide-range of Celtic teams. He and Antoine Walker (who should ask Pierce for a place to stay) helped carry a below average Celtics team to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2002. This was just 18 months removed from the famous stabbing incident, in which Pierce was stabbed 11 times outside of a Boston nightclub (I’d love to see the Akron Scammer come back  from that).

After that team fell apart, Pierce still played hard for a Celtics franchise that wanted to trade him. In classic Pierce fashion, he expressed his displeasure through the media, but continued to try and win games for the C’s. This situation reached a tipping point when Pierce sat out most of the 2006-2007 season due to “significant injuries.” This was a rare occurrence in his career in which Pierce let his emotions get the best of him and let it effect his play on the court. It was Pierce’s frustration with Danny Ainge and management that led to the acquisitions of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen.

While last night’s game was just another notch on Pierce’s belt, it proved once again that when you need a last second shot, there are few guys in the league you would rather go to than “The Truth.”

Doesn’t this quote from Pierce give you all the confidence in the world in him?

“I love these type of environments,” Pierce said. “It’s rare when you get these type of environments in the regular season. There’s only so many games you circle on the schedule, where you say, ‘Hey, this is going to be a playoff-type atmosphere, a playoff-type game.’

On the other side of the ball, the Knicks have to be happy with their efforts. While they didn’t come out on top, they have earned the respect of the Celtics, and with another strong showing against the Miami Heat on Friday, they can cement themselves as a legitimate playoff team. While they aren’t at contender level yet, and have a lot of work to do to get there, this team that GM Donnie Walsh has put together has pumped life, not only back into the Garden, but into the streets of New York.

Orange and blue are now making their way back into the wardrobe of New Yorkers. There are Stoudemire, Gallinari, and Felton jerseys being worn around the city, as opposed to seeing old school Patrick Ewing and John Starks throwbacks. The Knicks are like that girl in high school who wasn’t all that attractive back in the day, but when you have your mini reunions after college, you start to see that she wasn’t that bad looking in the first place. All she needed was some time away from home, better looking guys in college to make herself want to appear more attractive, and four years of becoming a “seasoned veteran.”

I plan on attending more Knicks games this season (and seeing Blake Griffin poop on another New York Knick’s head), and hope that the Garden can maintain this level of enthusiasm. While it may take a few more games like last night, things are definitely looking up for basketball in New York.

As for Pierce, it’s a shame he doesn’t get as much credit as deserves for the career he has put together so far. If he plays long enough, which I doubt, he can become the all-time leading scorer for the Celtics. He WILL pass Larry Bird on that list, and while he will never be compared to Bird or other past C’s, he has cemented a spot in the Pantheon of great Boston Celtics. Whether you like him or not, there’s not denying that Paul Pierce is nothing but “The Truth.”