Category Archives: Basketball

ESPN’s Fab 5 Documentary is a Winner

Michigan's Fab 5

ESPN is known for over-hyping sporting events, but typically not for over-hyping their own shows or films. I was surprised to see how many trailers the network was showing for last night’s documentary on Michigan’s Fab 5 — the legendary Michigan men’s basketball team comprised of star freshmen recruits Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King, and Ray Jackson. After tuning in last night, this documentary was definitely a winner (unlike the Fab 5) — another big win for ESPN’s film team after their 30 for 30 series.

The story begins with the formation of this super recruiting class, who ultimately loses both the 1992 and 1993 NCAA national championship games in dramatic fashion. While the group was not successful in bringing an NCAA championship to Michigan, they are almost solely responsible for bringing hip-hop culture, baggy shorts, and a street style of play to mainstream college basketball. Video of these guys is just awesome to watch as well — young Chris Webber in particular was a beast. Of the 5, all but Ray Jackson would reach the NBA with Howard, Webber, and Rose going on to illustrious NBA careers. Juwan Howard is still in the league (a member of the Miami Heat) while Rose ended his career averaging 14 ppg to Webbers 20 ppg. Not too shabby.

The most intriguing aspect of this documentary to me was the Fab 5’s viewpoint of their rival Duke Blue Devils, led by Grant Hill and Christian Laettner, who they refer to as “bitches.” Hill’s privileged upbringing acted as motivation for a young Jalen Rose, who came from a much rougher background. A young cocky Rose provides classic commentary throughout the film, which couples perfectly with Howard’s “we’re going to shock the world!” clip from the 1992 NCAA tournament. This documentary single-handedly made me a Jalen Rose fan (nice bling, FYI). His trash talking is nothing short of phenomenal.

If you’ve got a couple of hours between tournament games this month, you’ve got to check this one out.

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Murphy, Pavlovic, Arroyo — The Celtics that You Don’t Know

Carlos Arroyo Celtics

The Celtic's Carlos Arroyo

By Matt Moore, howiGit Contributing Writer, Boston, MA

Since the trade dead line in mid-February, the Celtics roster has been turned upside down.With 21 games left, it’s up to Doc Rivers to find a fit for all the new acquisitions, and for those players to learn the system and find a role. We’ve already had a pretty good look at what Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic can do. Krstic is fitting nicely as the starting center, and Green has found himself contributing late in games. But besides these two, the Celtics also have three other new players. Let’s take a look at each, and what they can potentially bring to the C’s for their playoff run:

Troy Murphy: Murphy is a veteran with size and good outside shooting. He looked pretty rusty in his first few outings, but it was expected after only playing in 18 games prior to arriving in Boston. Playing in Indiana last year, he posted an impressive 14 points and 10 rebounds per game, while having a decent percentage from behind the 3-point arc. Coming off the bench for the Celtics won’t give him an opportunity to match these averages, but it shows what Murphy is capable of producing. No one the Celtics brought in can match the defensive presence of the departed Perkins, but Murphy is another big body that can get rebounds, help control the paint, and also chip in offensively. You can see why the Heat wanted Murphy just as bad as the Celtics did, and thankfully Murphy chose Boston. It’s hard to say how much Murphy would play in a shortened rotation come playoff time, behind Green and Glen Davis. But if called on, Murphycan hit a big shot when needed.

Sasha Pavlovic: Pavlovic wasn’t a name that many people were talking about coming to Boston, but after being bought out the Celtics made a move on him. At 6’7”, he has good size and is a career 40% shooter from the field and 35% from behind the arc. He also comes with playoff experience, as a role player during Cleveland’s winning seasons. Doc Rivers has praised Pavlovic for his defensive abilities. One thing the Celtics lacked was a player off the bench who could shutdown, or at least contain, an opponent’s primary scorer. They had that with James Posey and then with Tony Allen; now they are hoping that Pavlovic can help along with Green. Pavlovic rounds out the roster and gives the Celtics another player that Rivers can put on the court with confidence when needed.

Carlos Arroyo: The most recent addition is Arroyo, who was let go by Miami after they signed Mike Bibby. There was some talk of Bibby coming to Boston, but in my mind that would not have been a great fit. Besides his past issues with Boston’s fans, Bibby isn’t the productive player he used to be. Arroyo is a welcome surprise to the Celtics, and a better pick up than Bibby. Primarily a back up his entire career, Arroyo puts up decent numbers for a reserve point guard. He can distribute the ball and shoots at a high percentage. Adding another experienced point guard was a key following Delonte West’s most recent injury. Avery Bradley can’t be expected to back up Rondo if West ever went down during a playoff series. The Celtics now have a little more insurance at the point guard spot.

Time will tell how these players work within the Celtics system and with the core players already in place. Expectations for these three aren’t as high as Green and Krstic, since the Celtics didn’t give anything up to acquire them. Nobody is claiming that these three are the final pieces that will guarantee the Celtics an 18th banner. But looking at the roster, you have to like it a little better than when it featured Semih Erden and Luke Harrangody. Any contribution they can make will be welcomed. How many healthy players we have and how deep of a rotation Doc wants will determine their playing time in the playoffs. But if it comes down to it, I have confidence that these three, especially Murphy, can make a difference in a few games.

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Shaq Celebrates his 39th Birthday with Boston’s Best Blogger (howiGit)

Yea, you could say it — Shaq and I are pretty tight. Both howiGit’s blog and Shaq arrived in Boston around the same time, to epic fan fare, so it seems only natural.

The big man turned 39 years old today, and celebrated by sharing a few high-fives and multiple pieces of birthday cake with yours truly. See the guy who first high-fives Shaq in the video above — in the blue and white striped polo shirt — yes, that’s me. We’re just keeping it positive here people. This is example A of why Shaq is the man and Nomar Garciapara is an asshole.

As for Shaq, the knee looks great and he definitely looks slimmed down. His lady, Hoopz, looks pretty good herself although she’s about two feet shorter than the big fella. Watch out Pau Gasol — he’s coming for you.

Shaq and howiGit

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Stat of the NBA Season — Thus Far

The Miami Heat are 14-16 against teams over .500 — if I was Chris Bosh I’d be crying too.

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Celtics Sneak Past the Jazz 107-102

Nick Green

A Celtics victory over the Jazz is nothing to write home about — Boston typically yawns its way through any game not against the likes of the Lakers or the Heat. That said, I watched all of last night’s Celtics game in an effort to get my first glimpse of this new look Celtics squad. It was a hell of a game, with a few notable happenings worth sharing.

1) Ray Allen scored 20 of his 25 points in the last 7 minutes of the game, including 3-3 shooting on ridiculously off-balance 3-point attempts in the fourth quarter. He iced the Jazz and ultimately won the Celtics the game.

2) Newcomer Nenad Krstic had 11 points and 8 boards, while new arrival Jeff Green made an unbelievable block with the game on the line. A solid start for the new guys.

3) Kevin Garnett, who has been receiving quite a bit of flack on this blog for his dirty play of late, was up to his tricks once again — except this time they all worked out perfectly. This included a scuffle with Al Jefferson at the far end of the court, leading to a frustrated Jefferson charging Garnett in a desperate effort to score on the ensuing possession. Garnett forced Jefferson into traveling, getting the ball back for the Celtics at a key moment. Even better yet was when Garnett decided he had to stall the game and fix the padding around the edge of the backboard in an effort to give a winded Paul Pierce an additional moment to catch his breath before shooting a free throw. The look Garnett received from the ref was priceless, but Pierce made the shot.

4) The Jazz’s Derrick Favors, the 3rd overall pick in the 2010 draft class, is a beast. I’d look for him to be a good player for a long time to come.

The Celts have a really easy stretch of games coming up, starting with the Suns of Wednesday night.

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Kendrick Perkins Traded by Celtics — Why?

Kendrick Perkins Traded

Kendrick Perkins was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder yesterday, in a move that leaves nearly every Bostonian I’ve talked to scratching their heads. Shortly before yesterday’s 3:00pm trade deadline Celtic’s GM Danny Ainge apparently decided his team’s Eastern Conference leading 41-15 record wasn’t quite good enough, retooling the Celtic’s roster by sending 4 Celtic’s packing. Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson traded to  Oklahoma, backup center Semih Erden and Marquis Daniels sent elsewhere in exchange for draft picks. Now I know the Celtics are old, but are we really going to begin rebuilding in the midst of a season where we’ve got as good of a title shot as anybody?

While the Celtics acquired Jeff Green and his 15.2 ppg from Oklahoma, offense is simply not what the Celtics need. To draw an Alanis Morissette parallel, the Celtics roster is now “like 10,000 spoons (scorers) when all you need is a knife (defenders).”  This was never more evident than in the playoffs last year, when Perkins’ defense was a major key to containing the likes of Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol. Last offseason’s battle cry was “we need more depth at center,” and in Shaq and Jermaine O’Neal it looked as though Danny Ainge had complied. Then he goes out and trades his starting center and a backup center who had shown major potential? While Jeff Green is undoubtedly a much better player than Perk, this is simply a circumstance where the Celtics got worse by adding a better player. It appears as though Ainge has something of a love affair with Green, who he originally selected as the 5th overall pick in the 2007 NBA draft before trading him to acquire Ray Allen.

Also acquired in the trade was Nenad Krstic, a 7-footer cited for a lack of defense and rebounding ability (is that possible at 7 feet?). That’s exactly what we don’t need — another clumsy big body for Pau and Dwight to light up — it just doesn’t make sense. The good news is this seems to suggest that Ainge has indications that the O’Neal twins will be returning to the Celtics’ line-up soon — or that he’s got some other trick up his sleeve.

The only reason that I can see for this trade is that Danny Ainge has loved the spotlight being on the Celtics for the past few seasons. He’s looking towards the future, trying to keep the Celtics relevant, all the while hurting our title chances this season, not to mention greatly shaking up one of the best team chemistry’s in the NBA. Note to Danny — 2 or 3 years from now even if you can hang on to Rondo we’ve got no chance anyways. Those will be the years of the Heat, the Knicks, the Bulls — Jeff Green is not going to make an impact against Lebron or Carmelo.

So really, what the hell were you thinking Danny?

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5 SportsCenter Storylines That Need To Go Away

Sportscenter

By Thalia Bardell, howiGit Contributing Writer, Boston, MA

I’ve probably brought this on myself – I should really change the channel, read a book, or download some new music – but instead, I watch a lot of SportsCenter. I watch it at the gym, if my roommate isn’t home for dinner; sometimes I just leave it on for background noise when I’m alone in my apartment. This is a regrettable thing to admit but, I can’t tell you anything about the Obama administration at the moment, but I can tell you what Kobe said after the NBA All-Star game, that Manny Ramirez worked out with a new trainer this off-season, and that the NFL Players Association and the NFL owners have been able to meet for five days in a row now. Make of this what you will. Like I said, I know I should really change the channel, maybe flip over to NBC once in a while, but as of right now I’m stuck on Channel 15 so naturally I have started to hear the same stories over, and over, and over again. howiGit’s blog has a long-standing tradition of lists and I thought, as the new kid, it’s time I threw one down. So here it is: The Five SportsCenter Storylines that I Hope I’ll Never Hear Again But Will Probably Hear Tomorrow. In no order of importance:

1) Duke — The Duke University Blue Devils are back in the top spot of the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll. Big surprise. If SportsCenter wants to get off on Duke that’s fine with me, but I say call me back when you’re in the Big East Conference and we’ll talk. North Carolina and Florida State are competitors, but Boston College? Great at hockey, mediocre at basketball. The 12 – 1 record loses a little of it’s clout when your schedule includes such stellar teams as the Elon Phoenix – the only reason I know that Elon exists is because my best friend goes to school there. You see my point?

2) Mel Kiper Jr. — There is truly no rest for the college football weary. It was straight from the Cam Newton, sorry, BCS National Championship to the NFL Draft. Whose stock is rising? Whose stock is falling? How many different mock drafts can one make?! Maybe I find this uninteresting because I attend a school with no football team, but Mel Kiper Jr. sure isn’t helping the situation. First, his head just freaks me out. Second, all the yelling and pointing – not effective. If I must hear about the draft I prefer to hear it from calm and composed Todd McShay. Seriously, I’m surprised I have yet to have a nightmare involving Mel Kiper Jr.’s disembodied head.

3) Blake Griffin — This is by no means a dig at Griffin’s ability on the court. This guy has more basketball talent in his left pinkie fingernail than I do in my entire body; I think he’s a player with talent and athleticism. But lately Blake has become that song that gets overplayed on the radio. For the first couple of weeks you’re all about it, you blast it in the car with the windows down, but then it starts to get old, then annoying, then you just want to turn it off all together. Blake Griffin has been overplayed by ESPN; he’s the Sex on Fire of sports right now.

4) Anything Involving the Word “Union” — The talks between the NFL Owners and the Players Union is important stuff, I get it. But walking out of meetings? C’mon guys let’s be mature about this. Strikes are supposed to be about fighting real horrendous working conditions; I’m talking mines, railroads, and sweatshops. The head trauma thing is serious and more and more medical research points to the fact that concussions are permanently life altering, but let’s get some perspective and hammer this deal out. What I want is some football in 2011. What I don’t want is to see another tweet, article, or story involving the names Peter King and Roger Goodell.

5) Carmelo Anthony — Finally. Finally. You chose. I don’t care, you’re still that kid who took forever in the lunch line deliberating between chocolate and strawberry milk. Now, instead of the rumors, it’s going to be two weeks worth of content on Carmelo’s version of “the decision.” Bring on the Chris Broussard!

I’m going to go read now. Oh wait, no I’m not. Where’s the remote?

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