Celtics behind the curve

Sunday, May 06

Random thoughts while waiting for the bagel to toast and the coffee to brew.

How come the Golden State Warriors can make the NBA playoffs and the Boston Celtics can't? Or how come those same Warriors can knock off the best (record-wise) team in the NBA and the Celtics are hoping to get the proper ping pong ball drop?

Of course, Golden State's Don Nelson is a far better coach than Boston's Doc Rivers. It's ironic that a former Celtic player, whose number hangs from the rafters in the TD Banknorth Garden, is in the middle of this discussion.

But having said that, the coaching isn't the major difference between Golden State and Boston — it's at the top of the organization.

Danny Ainge and Chris Mullin were both good NBA players. Both are about the same size and played similar games. But that's where the similarities end. Mullin was a far better player than Ainge, and he has proven to be a far better head of basketball operations.

For years and years, the Warriors have been a joke. In fact, before this season, the Warriors had only one over .500 season in the last decade or so, that coming in 1993-94. And with those sub .500 teams came no playoff appearances. The Celtics haven't been tons better, but did have several playoff appearances, one in the Eastern Conference finals (2001-02) and three over .500 records in the same period of time.

And the Celtics never had a player like Latrell Sprewell try to inflict bodily harm on a coach like P.J. Carlisimo.

If you watched any of the Dallas-Golden State series, you would have become an NBA fan. It had everything you wanted to see: good defense and better offense, long-range shooting and rim-rocking dunks, a wild crowd in California and too many TV shots of Dallas owner Mark Cuban.

Both Mullin and Ainge made a big trade in the last 12 months, but only one trade worked out. How do you like Sebastian Telfair now?

Stephen Jackson isn't necessarily a good character guy — neither is Telfair — but at least Jackson can play. He was huge in the series against Dallas.

Baron Davis is a warrior, literally and figuratively. He played harder against Dallas than any Celtic I saw all season.

Why can't Danny Ainge find guys like that?

Maybe it's time for a change at the top in Boston. Jerry West just retired in Memphis, but he might not be done in the NBA. The competitor in West would have to love the challenge of restoring the Celtics to their former glory.

Just a thought.

  • Then there's the tale of Brian Cashman, the Yankees general manager who might just be the "Dead Man Walking" in the Big Apple.

    Is it just me, or has everything he's done this year blown up in his face.

    Kei Igawa? The Japanese import has made Hideki Irabu look like a great former Yankee pitcher. It seems like every time Cashman has tried to improve the Yankees pitching staff, the pitcher has either gotten hurt or flamed out.

    Don't try to tell me that he's done a great job with the farm system. Yes, Phil Hughes had a great outing until pulling his hamstring last week, and he was probably the best draft pick Cashman made. Chien-Ming Wang was signed by the Yankees before Cashman took over.

    There have been too many young pitchers fail to perform over the past couple of weeks. You can't blame the manager.

    Joe Torre didn't injure Mike Mussina, Carl Pavano and Wang, and he didn't tell Colter Bean not to throw strikes. Torre can only do so much with this menagerie of pitching.

    So, if a head has to roll, it should be Brian Cashman's.

  • And from the Philadelphia Inquirer, I learned that the indoor lacrosse team there fired its head coach and the general manager will begin a search for a replacement.

    There's one problem — the GM and the coach are the same guy.

    That's right, Lindsay Sanderson has been the coach and the general manager of the Philadelphia Wings. I guess a 6-10 record this year under Sanderson the coach wasn't good enough for Sanderson the GM.

    So now, Lindsay Sanderson has to hire his own replacement.

    Only in sports.


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