SportsNation Blog Archives Boston Celtics
LeBron James might have led the Miami Heat to two titles and a string of four straight NBA Finals appearances, but that doesn't mean the Sunshine State is entirely in the King's corner.
We asked two questions recently to SportsNation regarding LeBron, and while some states -- particularly the home of his Cleveland Cavaliers -- voted in his favor, Florida went the other direction on both (results as of 7:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday).
First, after Bill Russell beat out LeBron on a graphic as the "best player to wear No. 6" ...
Then, after Shaquille O'Neal said he would choose Kobe Bryant over LeBron in their primes ...
It must be said that the South Florida region accounts for less than one-third of the state's population, according to 2014 estimates. So a county-by-county breakdown might see LeBron carry Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach but lose significantly elsewhere. Also, those are significantly small samples -- perhaps a few thousand more votes would change things.
Still, those are significant margins in both Russell's and Kobe's favor.
In other words: That's unseasonably cold, Florida.
Who are the best NBA players ever to wear each jersey number?
Apparel company Mitchell & Ness took this question and figuratively ran with it, creating a graphic that lists the best player to wear every number that's ever graced the front and back of an NBA uniform.
• There are a few incontrovertible choices: No. 23 for Michael Jordan (unless you're Kendrick Perkins or Bill Laimbeer), No. 45 for MJ (even if he wore it for just a few weeks in 1995), No. 00 for Robert Parish, No. 1 for Oscar Robertson, and a few others.
• There are heated debates for other numbers, particularly the overloaded No. 33, where Kareem Abdul-Jabbar edged Larry Bird, Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning, Scottie Pippen and others. (This writer's opinion: Kareem was the absolute right choice).
• Late-career changes helped squeeze excellent players onto the list in numbers they're not always best known for. Karl Malone (No. 32 with the Utah Jazz) gets on for his one year as No. 11 with the Los Angeles Lakers, since he was never going to overtake Magic Johnson. Shaquille O'Neal wore 32 (Magic), 33 (Kareem) and 34 (Hakeem Olajuwon) at points in his career, but gets on the list with his Boston Celtics No. 36. And Kevin Garnett, who probably wouldn't have edged Tim Duncan out for No. 21, thankfully had the No. 5 spot all to himself for his post-Minnesota Timberwolves stint with the Celtics.
• The end of this list is absolutely wonderful, with Scot Pollard, Jason Kapono, Shawn Bradley, Vladimir Radmanovic and DeShawn Stevenson bringing back so many memories. But it also contains some great significance: Jason Collins, the NBA's first openly gay player, wore No. 98 as a tribute to Matthew Shepard.
• The Panda's Friend? More like The Oddball Jersey Number's Friend! Yes, Ron Artest, aka Metta World Peace, shows up a list-topping four times here, for Nos. 37, 51, 93 and 96, edging out equally eccentric talent Dennis Rodman (three: 70, 73, 91).
• Biggest omission from the list? LeBron James. Sure, he's not going to overtake Jordan (see above) for No. 23. But No. 6? That spot was given to Bill Russell, who wore his signature number for the Celtics while winning 11 championships. But some -- maybe even this writer (bring out the haters!) -- believe James, who wore No. 6 during his four-year stint with the Miami Heat, is/was the better player.
On Monday, Bleacher Report released an oral history of Kevin Garnett. Now, an oral history of one particular player might seem a little much, unless that player is a human anecdote machine -- which the former/current Minnesota Timberwolves and former Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets big man most certainly is.
We pulled some of the best quotes from the piece related to Garnett's infamous intensity and trash talk, but it really is worth the whole read:
Joe Abunassar, Garnett's personal trainer: "We had been working out and we went to Memorial Park [in L.A.], and he had forgotten his socks. It was him, [Chauncey] Billups, [Al] Harrington, Ty Lue, Michael Ruffin and a few others. He played every game. He was dunking on guys and blocking shots -- all with no socks on. Hours he was playing. When it was over, there was blood seeping through the front of his shoes. Part of his feet and toes were just bleeding. It was unbelievable."
Chris Bosh, Miami Heat/former Toronto Raptors forward: "Usually I don't talk back, but if he said something to me, I said something back. I had just a terrible game for me [against the Celtics in the 2011 playoffs]. He got me all off my game. He scored, like, four times in a row on me in the crunch. And I was so embarrassed and so upset, and he got in my head. Ever since that day, I never said anything else."
Paul Pierce, former Celtics and Nets teammate: "One time, he asked [Joakim] Noah if he could rub through his hair, like a female or something. ... And I know that kind of made [Noah] hot. And this was when Noah was a rookie, too. I remember Noah looked up to KG. He was like, 'Man, KG, I had your poster on my wall, I looked up to you, man.' And then [Garnett] just said something like that, and was like 'F--- you, Noah.' I was like, 'Whoa.' This kid fresh out of college, looks up to KG, just said he had his poster on the wall, and he tells him that! It crushed him. It crushed Noah."
Pierce again, recalling a light moment between himself (then with Boston) and Garnett (then with Minnesota): "We were both on losing teams at this point. This is probably around the last week of the season. We're talking [trash] at the free throw line. I'm like, 'Man, everybody needs to shut up, because we all going to the Bahamas next week.' And as intense as he was, he had to look up and just start laughing. ... I said, 'I'm going to Cancun. Where are you going, Ticket?' He said, 'I'm going to St. Lucia.'"
Tyronn Lue, former NBA guard: "A lot of people do all their howling on the court and they're faking just for attention, but what he does is genuine. So one day we were at his house and we were watching Puff Daddy's show 'Making the Band,' and in one of the scenes, some new guys came in and were trying to sing and were trying to compete against the guys who had been there. And KG just got so hyped: "M-----f-----, you've got to stand up for yours! You've got to fight! M-----f----, you've got to come together!" He's going crazy, he's sweaty. And he just head-butts the wall and put a hole in the wall of his house."
Check out the story here.
Favorites in NBA's East?
Less than a week into the NBA's official free agency, nearly all of the big names have made their decisions. And while the Western Conference saw little movement, the East saw some deals that will certainly shake things up.
LeBron James, in case you hadn't heard, left the Miami Heat for the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Heat, though, kept Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, and added Luol Deng in the process. The Chicago Bulls picked up Pau Gasol and brought over Montenegro-born Nikola Mirotic from Spain to team with a (presumably) healthy Derrick Rose. And the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday saw Lance Stephenson go to the new-look Charlotte Hornets. (Also, let's not forget about Carmelo Anthony staying with the New York Knicks and Jason Kidd leaving the Brooklyn Nets to coach the Milwaukee Bucks.) Naturally, there are a lot of questions ...
Homecomings for former players can be bittersweet, and for Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, their return to Boston was no exception. Pierce and Garnett brought a championship to a franchise that seemed to have lost its way, and the Celtics showed their appreciation for the two stars with separate tribute videos on Sunday night. For his part, Paul Pierce seemed touched:
Thank you Boston for all the love u showed for me and KG you have provided me with so many memories I will always love u— Paul Pierce (@paulpierce34) January 27, 2014
"This was the toughest game I've ever had to play," Pierce said after the game. "Tougher than any championship, tougher than any Game 7." Normally we'd doubt a statement like that regarding a game against a 15-31 team, but in this case, we get it.
Celtics' tribute to Pierce and Garnett