STOP “The What If Kendrick Perkins Didn’t Get Hurt”

Have You Heard of Andrew Bynum?

(This blog was originally posted on the Yahoo Contributor Network on April 24th, 2011. As of 7/31/14 YCN has taken down all of its content)

For the last year I have had to listen and read about how the Boston Celtics would have won the 2010 NBA Championship if Kendrick Perkins did not get hurt in game seven of last year’s finals against the Los Angeles Lakers.

It has been stated so much it has become accepted wisdom. Today’s column by Mike Lupica in the New York Daily News* is the last draw. Enough!

This is a perfect example of the media relaying selective facts to further their opinion or point of view. Yes, Kendrick Perkins got injured in game six of the finals last year and didn’t play in game seven.

However, Andrew Bynum played the entire series injured and basically on one leg. His minutes and productivity clearly down. It can be equally if not argued more accurately that if Bynum was not playing so injured the Lakers would have won the series before it got to a game seven. But in all of the sports shows and media articles I have read about the loss of Perkins in game seven I have never heard or read that counterpoint. (Apologies to anyone out there who stated it.)

Let’s take it one step further as Doc Rivers himself has added to the legend of this story by lamenting many times that his starting five of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Rajon, Rondo and Kendrick Perkins never lost a playoff series when healthy. When the Celtics beat the Lakers in the 2008 finals, Andrew Bynum was injured not just for one game but the entire series, as was Trevor Ariza. These were two key members of the Lakers 2009 championship.

So instead of talking about the Celtics beating the Lakers had Perkins not missed one game in 2010, isn’t time we discuss how the Lakers would have beat the Celtics if Bynum and Ariza played in 2008? How bout we let both situations go and accept that the Celtics were the worthy champion in 2008 and the Lakers the worthy champion in 2010 and put the kibosh on what I will refer to as the “Perkins asterisk”.

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*The main point of Lupica’s article today was to pine for Doc Rivers to be the Knicks next coach. Because as we know, even with Chauncey Billups hurt, Amare Stoudemire hurt and the nucleus of the team being together less then half a season Doc would have the Knicks sweeping teams on their way to a championship this year.

Look, I liked Doc Rivers as a player and even more as an announcer. Further, he is doing a great job coaching in Boston now, but he is not the messiah because he coached three hall of famers and four all-stars to one NBA title.

Let’s not forget that Doc was fired from Orlando in 2003 after his team got off to a 1 -10 start and overall he finished his tenure with the Magic two games above five hundred.

Let’s not forget that his Celtics struggled against lesser teams on their way to that one championship.  And in the season prior to the major influx of talent his Celtics were 24 -58. I believe it was the logo himself, Jerry West, who recently reminded us that talent wins.

As I’ve written in previous blogs, Mike D’Antoni deserves more time. If it doesn’t work out in the near future and a coaching vacancy arises, Doc would certainly be a very worthy candidate, especially if the Knicks are a team of stars needing to get the next level. No offense to Doc, I’m happy for his success in Boston but I’m rooting for Mike D. to do the same in New York.

Published by Jeff Schubert

Jeff Schubert is the Host/Executive Producer of the show Filmnut that airs on thestream.tv. Each webisode provides an in depth interview about the making, marketing, or distribution of film, TV or new media…

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Jason Kidd: Right Coach, Wrong Time

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Arguably a top ten point guard of all-time, Jason Kidd has the pedigree to potentially, someday, make a great coach.  I say potentially for history is littered with former great players who were not good, let alone great coaches.

But, is Kidd qualified, let alone the most qualified, to take over as coach of the Brooklyn Nets today?

In a word: No.  In three words:  Not even close.

In sports, there is this idea that an ex-player might not be qualified to coach but if he played and starred for a specific team, that somehow overrides any other lack of qualification and warrants consideration.

My favorite baseball player growing up was Don Mattingly.  When Joe Torre decided he wanted to decline the New York Yankees offer and step away, Mattingly was under consideration to be the next Yankee manager.  Unlike Kidd, Mattingly did serve as batting and bench coach but was still considered inexperienced for he lacked managerial experience at any level.  As much as a part of me wanted Mattingly to be the guy, Joe Girardi was the better choice.

Did any other team express interest in Mattingly at the time?  No.  This lack of opportunity suggests that it was premature for the Yankees to be considering Mattingly in the first place.  As I suspect it is for the Nets to have interviewed and consider Kidd.

Mark Jackson, another great point guard without any coaching experience has found success as the head coach of the Golden State Warriors.  But this came after years away from the game and serving as a TV analyst alongside an established former head coach, Jeff Van Gundy.

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Derek Fisher, Brian Shaw and Phil Jackson.

Personally, I prefer and respect those who pay their dues and serve as an assistant, such as a hot coaching candidate like Brian Shaw.

However, while not coaching experience, at least as an analyst, Jackson was able to study the game on a regular basis.  Distant from his playing days and player mindset, he got to know all of the players and managerial personal.  Further, he could discuss them, and analyze game situation after situation with Van Gundy.

The advantage here is as a point guard you may do this through the lens of your own teams strengths and weaknesses but as an analyst you’re putting yourself in the mindset of everyone you cover without bias.  You are looking at the game from every angle seeing what works and what doesn’t.  And while Kidd’s experience and greatness as a player is a strong step in that direction, an analyst like Jackson or an assistant like Shaw are simply further down the road.

According to Marc Stein of ESPN.com: “Kidd — with no coaching experience at age 40 — only would be considered if he could assemble “an All-Star cast” of veteran assistants to support him, the source said.”

The thing that I find irritating about this is, um, why not just hire one of the all-star assistants to be the head coach and Kidd to be the assistant?

If the dark side of the force decided to field a basketball team, who be the coach and who be the assistant between Darth Vader and the Evil Emperor?  Between Mr. Miyagi and Danielson?

The idea of Kidd being a coach to an all-star assistant gets the whole mentor/ apprentice thing backwards.

You can say it worked for the Boston Celtics with Doc Rivers and Thom Thibodeau.  Setting aside that Doc was also an analyst first:  Let’s be honest, as much as we like Doc, (and we do like him), his team was loaded with talent.  And while they’re both top coaches, time is proving Thibodeau to be the better one…

A better example would be Larry Bird when he coached the Indiana Pacers with no coaching or analyst experience.  Bird was good.  But his all-star assistant, Rick Carlisle proved to be the better.

There is no reason why the next Thibodeau or Carlisle (arguably Brian Shaw or someone like him) should have to groom Kidd because they weren’t as good of players as Kidd or Bird.

Jasonkidd2No disrespect meant to Kidd (or Bird) who I think has potential to make a great coach.  If he really wants it, let him work as hard at earning that opportunity as he did improving his outside shot.  And not just have it handed to him because he played for the Nets and led them to two NBA finals.

Making The Case To Keep The Boston Celtics Together

NBA: Boston Celtics at Orlando Magic

It may be approaching closing time but the bar is still open and there is time for one more round.  So the Boston Celtics lost in the first round to the New York Knicks Friday night.  Paul Pierce looked out of gas; Kevin Garnett was playing though injury and Ray Allen is in the rear view mirror playing for the Miami Heat.

Now is not the time to panic or make hasty decisions.  It’s the time to be realistic.  Look, I am no fan of Boston.  While I respect what the latest version of the Celtics has accomplished, I can make the argument that resting on the laurels of being one of sports most storied franchises, it has been overrated. But they are winners.  From Celtic team President Danny Ainge, coach Doc Rivers, and the players, they are loyal to each other.  And there is a mutual affinity between the team and its fans.

As someone over forty, I can say we don’t see that as much anymore in sports and it’s worth strongly considering keeping together.  Beyond sentiment here are reasons why the Celtics should keep the Garden a place where everybody knows the names:

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Rajon Rondon driving to the hoop against the Miami Heat.

With a healthy Rajon Rando, and better production out of Jason Terry the Celtics would have finished between the 2nd and 4th seed this season making who knows what kind of run in the playoffs.

The days of logging 40 plus all-star minutes a game are gone but it’s premature to write the eulogies for Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.  Stars like John Stockton, Steve Nash and Jason Kidd were/are able to perform at high levels because their minutes were strictly monitored as they aged.  Injuries and lack of depth forced the Celtics to abandon this strategy in the playoffs and push their aging stars too much.  This made Pierce look worse than he is.  Health and augmentation is required.  Not disassembling.

If the Miami Heat are healthy they will likely be the favorite to win it all next season no matter what you do.  But Dwyane Wade is starting to break down, and if things fall into place, the C’s can be right there.

Pierce is under contract for one more season.  Unless someone offers you a crazy no-brianer trade for him, why not play it out?  Get Rondo healthy, get Jared Sullinger healthy, pick up a free agent piece and be relevant.

Speaking of Pierce, he may not be Larry Bird or Bill Russell but he is a Celtic legend.  Do you want to jettison him a year too soon and see him play in another team’s colors?  (Okay so I snuck in a reason based on sentiment)

Rebuilding is always a risky proposition with no guarantees.  So unless Danny Ainge has scouted a high school senior who he projects will come out of college after his freshman year for the 2015 draft, and can guarantee the Celtics will be in the right draft position to get him, what is the rush to suck next year?

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Number one pick in the 2007 NBA draft Greg Oden shaking hands with Commissioner David Stern.

Because that’s the argument isn’t it?  Rebuilding is painful but the sooner you start the sooner you get through it.  Not necessarily.  Great prospects don’t equate to a turnaround.  I’m sure Portland felt they were on the right path when they drafted Greg Oden and Sam Bowie.  Washington when they drafted Kwame Brown.  Detroit when they drafted Darko Milicic.  And these were high picks.

The Indianapolis Colts said goodbye to Peyton Manning but it took four neck surgeries and the guarantee of replacing him with stud rookie Andrew Luck.  The Celtics don’t have anywhere close to that type of certainty in replacing Pierce or KG.  Maybe the next Kobe Bryant or Tim Duncan is in the 2015 draft class; maybe he is in the 2016, 2017 or 2027!

The fact is, at this point there are more unknowns with rebuilding then there is with one more run.  Why rush to start over and end this chapter of Celtic history when there could be one more story to tell?  A story that your fans and the media love and respect.  Sure Ainge should be on the lookout for deals and possibilities but don’t break it up just to break it up.

It may be time for last call but upon further review it might not be time to break up the band and send everyone home just yet.  Samuel Adams anyone?

What Does Carmelo Anthony And Kevin Garnett Have In Common?

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To compare Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Garnett might seem silly to some.  Garnett is a leader, and has the heart of a champion.  He was the anchor of the Boston Celtics champion team of 2008.  Anthony, on the other hand is a ball stopping hog and doesn’t play defense.  And his worst offense, and the biggest indictment against him, is that he only has gotten his team out of the first round of the playoffs one time.

Oh how soon we forget.  And how winning changes everything.  For you young folks reading this, you might not remember that once upon time Kevin Garnett played for the Minnesota Timberwolves.  In eight seasons in Minnesota exactly how many times did KG’s Wolves make it out of the first round?  Um, the answer would be one time.

One the one hand, especially in his prime, it is fair to say Garnett had more of an all around game than Melo.  However, KG was clearly the man in Minnesota and when it came playoff time, he was accused of shrinking in the fourth, and shying away from his offense.  Something nobody ever accused Melo of.

garnettallenpierceIn Boston, KG was able to share, “the man” duties with Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, A.K.A, “the big three”.  Two future hall of famers that were still in their prime when they joined forces and complimented KG’s game.

In Denver, Melo had a past his prime Allen Iverson, and a legit but slightly passed him prime Chauncey Billups.  In New York he has a team, this post season, which if healthy enough, can legitimately compete.

In the lone year the Celtics did win a champion with KG, he played for not one but two of the leagues best coaches.  Doc Rivers as the head coach, and arguably the Bill Belichick of basketball, Tom Thibodeau as the assistant coach/ defensive coordinator.  Of course Thibodeau is now the head coach of the Chicago Bulls.

Dikembe Mutombo's classic pose after the Nuggets upset the Sonics.

Dikembe Mutombo’s classic pose after the Nuggets upset the Sonics.

Melo had George Karl in Denver.  A great regular season coach who had great Seattle Sonic teams, long before he teamed with Melo, that often under performed in the playoffs.  Including when his Seattle team suffered one of the biggest upsets in history as the first number one seed to lose to an eight, ironically, the Denver Nuggets.

KG’s Wolves did lose two series as the favorite.  Melo’s Nuggets lost as 4th seed once to the Utah Jazz when their teams had identical records.  With the NY Knicks, Melo will be a favorite for the first time.

Prior to Michael’s Jordan’s reign, only one time had a team with the NBA’s leading scorer won a championship.  It was supposed to be Jordan’s Achilles heal.  Kobe Bryant is a great player when they win and a selfish shooter when they lose.  I’m not saying Melo is the class of Jordan or Kobe, but he is a great scorer and that is the criticism that scorers often get.

The pressure is on him now more than ever due to a lack of past success and the fact that they are a number 2 seed.  Boston is much better than your typical number 7 seed, but the favored Knicks should win.  A certain amount of pressure for Melo is fair.  But win or lose, let’s see how Melo, the team and the coach perform before rendering judgement.  And of course, the Celtics will have something to say about the outcome.

If the Knicks fail to win in the first round, or Melo never wins a championship remember, a lot of great players never won championships, and a lot of other great players like Kevin Garnett, like Julius Erving, never won championships until the perfect situations happened upon them.

If Melo does win a championship before he retires it will be interesting to see if the perception of him changes the way it has for Garnett.

Skip Bayless and Chris Broussard outdo themselves

So last night the number six seed N.Y. Knicks went down 0-2 to the number three seed Boston Celtics having lost two games on the road in Boston.   This morning on ESPN’s First and Ten Chris Broussard said coaching wise, “D’Antoni is getting undressed by Doc Rivers (Celtic coach)” both Skip Bayless and Broussard questioned whether D’Antoni was the right coach for the Knicks and whether or not he would be back next season.

So the Knicks lose two games on the road, by two and three points to the defending eastern conference champions that Skip predicted would be there again.  They lose to a team that just about everybody predicted would beat the Knicks and you guys are using this an example of why D’Antoni isn’t a fit to be the coach?  Can we at least wait till the Knicks get a home game in the series?   If you guys were on a jury you would probably convict after the prosecutor’s opening statements!

Speaking of defense.  The big rip on D’Antoni is his teams give up way to many points.  So Boston must have scored as much or more than the 105.7 points per game the Knicks gave up during the regular season right?  Wrong.  Boston won scoring 87 points in game one and 96 in game two.  Not bad.

Next it gets crazy.  When the focus of the conversation shifts to the Celtics, Skippy and Chrissy start deriding the Celtics play, pointing out that they won game one at least in part because Knick point guard and clutch performer Chauncey Billups got hurt and left the game in the last minute.  Further, they point to the two bad calls that went against the Knicks in the last minute.  First the offensive foul call that went against Carmelo Anthony and then the non-call for an offensive foul against Kevin Garnett that freed up Ray Allen for the game winner.  As for game two, they remind us that Chauncey was out for the whole game, all-star Amare Stoudemire plays eighteen minutes and has to leave due to injury and Jared Jeffries turns over a great pass from Melo that could have put the Knicks ahead with under ten seconds to play!  Do you guys listen to yourself when you talk?

Lets reverse this.  If Rajon Rondo missed the game due to injury and Paul Pierce played eighteen minutes and Billups and Stoudemire played at full health and the Knicks won by three points (at home) would we be singing D’Antoni’s praises and trashing Doc Rivers?

Just to remind you guys in case you forgot, the Knicks gutted their team midseason and we have seen how long it has taken the Miami Heat with Lebron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh to make the chemistry work.   The Knicks have been together as constructed for less than half a season and towards the end of the season before they had to rest Stoudemire due to an ankle injury they won seven in a row.  And now they play two winnable relatively low scoring games against the heart of a champion Boston Celtics and if not for bad calls and key injuries could be up 2-0 or at least 1-1.   I would say the Knicks are trending in the right direction.  You wouldn’t?

D’Antoni is an accomplished coach who has won a coach of the year, with a .650 winning percentage in Phoenix and took them to the conference finals. Give him some respect and at least one full season with this new nucleus to work with before you bury him.

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In the same episode of First and Ten Chris and Skip are talking about Lebron James and in defense of James,  LeChris (as Skip calls Chris) states that Lebron never had a perimeter all-star player as a teammate in Cleveland.  I’m sure what Chris meant to say was aside from Mo Williams Lebron never had a perimeter all-star as a teammate in Cleveland.