UPDATE: To all you Kevin McHale lovers out there...I spent my formative years in Boston during a time when you didn't have the full basketball story until you heard it from, first, Larry Bird, and second, Kevin McHale. In the 80's, reporters would flock to Larry, and then Kevin, after a big game. And Kevin never disappointed. So my Kevin McHale expectations are pretty damn high. Doesn't mean I don't like him. It means I expect a lot from him. After being a front office guy for so many years, the relaxed, easygoing, shoot-from-the-hip McHale is now stiff and uncertain in front of the camera. He is not the KM I adored lo so many years ago. I think he has the potential to be great (much in the way that Barkley is great, or in the way Conan O'Brien, who in his first year as a talk show host was awful, became at ease in the limelight, and turned his tall, angular frame into a comedic asset rather than a freak-show detriment). Yes, I'm making fun of Kevin, but it's just tongue-in-cheek. Stay cool, my babies, as Conan would say. My criticism comes from love, and the sincere hope that he can return to being what he once was.
Ok, enough of this smarmy love letter. On to the Live Blog.
Here's your Kevin McHale-style intro to this live blog: Let's play ball, folks!
Commentators: Kevin Harlan / Kevin McHale
When did Kevin McHale (heretofore referred to as the “personality drain,” and “KM”) become uncool? I remember like 25 years ago he did some promotional appearance at Bank Five in Arlington, Massachusetts, and there was nobody there to see him. I could have talked to him for an hour, but I was a doofy teenager and didn’t have the nerve, and didn’t have anything to say. Now I feel like Kevin and my “something to say” roles are reversed:
His opening analysis? “Both teams want to win this game tonight.” Brilliant.
God, I still wish I had found the nerve to chat with him 25 years ago, or at least managed to build a time machine so that my 40-year-old self could chat it up with him. Oh, well, today’s Kevin will have to do. One thing I did gain from doing this live blog is the realization that he can be funny and enlightening if you: - Squint really hard. - Pay close attention to what he says, then immediately disregard it and make up your own commentary. - Imagine Bill Walton in his place.
11:05 – Pierce gets called for his first foul for letting Tony Parker run into, and fall onto, him.
10:50 – KG jumper rattles in.
10:11 – KG gets called on a moving pick on Ginobili, who “sells it well” according to the personality drain. McHale points out that Ginobili was voted second-best flopper in the league. I saw that in my Sports Illustrated, so Kevin only gets a ½ point for “enlightening comment.” Number one vote getter in that flop contest? Derek Fisher. True enough, but Ginobili is still the most creative and versatile flopper, and he has the best flop video dedicated to him.
9:20 – Pierce tries to go up for a weak dunk off a rebound. Duncan stops the shot effortlessly, making Pierce look like a runt amateur.
8:54 – Glen Davis with a nice little 8-foot hook shot. The C’s would be dead without his ability to play taller than he is. And his ability to exude emotion that goes way beyond what is necessary.
7:43 – Rondo hits his second consecutive jumper. Wow. Are the planets aligned or something? Moon full?
Celtics 15 – Spurs 15
Jermaine O'Neal is in the game. Apparently he’s 12 pounds lighter to keep the extra weight off his knees. This may not seem like much, but I recently learned that every pound lost supposedly takes 4 pounds of weight off the knees. Seems like BS – not sure if it’s true, but it sounds good. I was watching some cable show called HEAVY about morbidly obese people trying to lose weight (did you know one-third of all shows on TV are now about morbidly obese people trying to lose weight? True fact), and the doctor told this enormous woman that very thing. Maybe he was just feeding her lines to make her feel better (and because she needed to be fed something). The doctor said something nice to her to encourage continued weight loss, but it would have been so awesome if instead he said something like “You’ve gone from 375 pounds to 345 pounds, Melinda. So before, it was like you were carrying the weight of the Eiffel Tower on your knees, but now, it’s like you’re carrying the weight of a...well...slightly smaller Eiffel Tower.”
Unintentionally dirty KM line of the evening: “I’m excited about O’Neal’s shape.”
4:28 – Parker slices through some we-can’t-play-defense-because-Perk-is-gone-even-though-he-was-injured-most-of-the-season-anyway-and-well-really-we’re-just-using-it-as-an-excuse-to-conserve-energy-and-limp-into-the-playoffs Celtics’ defense.
3:32 – George Hill 3-pointer.
3:06 – Delonte West jumper. Can almost imagine him saying “I’m contributing!” in an over-excited, Downs Syndromy voice.
2:27 – Parker drives, gets foul call. KM is calling him “the best guard finisher since Nate ‘Tiny’ Archibald.” Is KM looking to compete with Bill Walton for the crown of King of Overstatement?
1:50 – Pierce follows a Rondo miss with an aggressive rebound between two spurs, hits the shot, foul call. Pierce asks for new ball to free throw, because it’s wet with sweat. KM provides a wonderful things-most-people-can’t identify-with comment: “Get my golf towel.”
:42 – Rondo with great, hanging up and under layup. KM comments that Rondo is “the best guard finisher since Tony Parker.” No he didn’t. Just kidding.
11:11 – Ginobili three pointer
Spurs – 36-31
8:56 – Jeff Green follows his own miss. Teammates collectively give him a nice-shot-but-we’re-still-mourning-the-loss-of-Kendrick-Perkins look.
Movie ad Alert: The dragon-and-flagon comedy Your Highness. What is promising: Danny McBride is in it. Not Promising: “From the makers of Pineapple Express.” Marketers are actually using this as a selling point? Did they see Pineapple Express? I did. In the theater. It was a Date Night movie, and I picked it. Paid money and everything. When it was over, I had to look at my wife and say, simply, “Sorry.” So I would revise the ad to say “From the makers of Pineapple Express, but don’t worry – they learned from it, and this is way better, and not 20 minutes too long.”
6:35 – Ginobili makes KG look silly, faking a pass inside around KG’s right flank, turning KG full around, and hitting a layup over him. KM calls it the “Larry Bird Okeydoke” – and says “I always used to fall for that in practice.” I’m starting to realize what KM has decided his commentator “thing” is – self-deprecation. This will come up again later.
4:56 – Rondo goes coast to coast – then gets T’d up for “excessive hand gesturing.” Question: can you give a ref the finger and get the same call? Because I think flipping the bird would really be getting your money’s worth.
4:37 – Nenad Krstic pokes the ball from Duncan. Apparently, he can, in fact, play defense…against old men.
2:19 – The Lord giveth (in the form of Jermaine O’Neal), and the Lord taketh away. Krstic goes down with mysterious, disturbing no-contact knee injury. The other Celtics show zero emotion about the loss. There is a brief shot of Rondo on the bench twisting a needle into the knee of a Nenad Krstic Voodoo doll. I think this development could actually be good for the Celtics – with all their depression over losing the well-liked Perkins, is it helpful to have him replaced by a big, balding, European who plays mediocre defense, good offense, and can hit his free throws? He’s like the anti-Perkins, and a constant off-putting reminder of the trade. Krstic and Perkins are complete polar opposites, alike only in that English is their second language.
Half – 49-49
Halftime comment: My appreciation of Kevin McHale automatically rises ten-fold at the sight of brand new TNT commentator, Rick Fox. His slicked back hair and annoying good looks scream L.A., and yeah, I know he was a Celtic for a while, but he was overrated, and always had that God-I-wanna-play-in-LA look about him. And what kind of world do we live in where appearing on Dancing with the Stars is an effective springboard to career rejuvenation?Although I must admit, I love you, Ralph Macchio.
10:58 – Parker drives the lane and finishes for what seems like the tenth time. I’m starting to think his guy is the best finisher since Tiny Archibald.
9:08 – Glen Davis rebounds Allen miss, hits patented undersized-but-somehow-can-finish layup.
Unintentionally dirty KM quote #2: “That was a nice rim-run by Davis.”
8:20 – McDyess leaves with what appears to be an ankle sprain.
7:31 – After great Rondo finish, Parker right back for an And One, getting the foul call on Glen Davis.
6:34 – Bonner hits his second three in a row.
Spurs – 65-61
5:08 – Rondo defensive rebound, full length pass to Green for a lay up.
4:10 – Rondo jumper falls. Startling to see Rondo nailing outside shots. It’s like watching a panda juggle. 67 apiece.
3:45 – Rondo coast to coast, layup under Bonner’s armpit. KM calls it the “Right Guard shot.”
3:12 – Rondo jumper. KM proclaims: “It’s the Rondo show.” This is the same man who essentially said that it’s not a problem that Rondo can’t hit jumpers, because defenders lay off him and give him better looks at driving and passing lanes. Interesting theory, but Rondo is showing that actually hitting jumpers is kind of an effective tool for a guard to have.
1:46 / 1:17 – Jeff Green hits two difficult, contested lay-ups, shows why the Celtics wanted him. He has 8 points…4 of 6 from the floor.
Shot of Rondo sucking wind and drinking water on the bench after carrying the C’s for several minutes.
:14 – Ginobili makes nice move for lay up. KM calls it the Euro-step, which is essentially a side step that looks a little like traveling. KM’s self-deprecation rises from the ooze. “I’d pull a groin if I tried that.” And then adds that if he were an official, he’d be a crap one: “I’d call a travel on that all the time.”
McDyess is back.
Celtics – 79-70
10:40 – George Hill gets called for being out of bounds. He’s out by a foot. KM leans on the self-dep: “Even I coulda made that call and got it right. I’d be a bad ref too, by the way.”
KM notes they’ve put Ginobili on Rondo to put some size on him.
9:46 – Ginobili snakes in for a nice floater. KM: “It's almost Manu time.”
9:15 – Glen Davis and KG lock arms make a giant, football-style wedge screen for Rondo to shoot. KM says: “Look at the big green wall!” and he’s not even at Fenway. Who’d a thunk the C’s would be working to get Rondo to take a jumper?
Celtics – 86-78
7:44 – Allen hits big three. Big for him, as he’s been terrible tonight.
Celtics’ Defense is picking up. Must be the absence of that distracting anti-Perk European dude.
5:15 – Another Rondo jumper. 22 points, 0 turnovers. Not a typo. 0.
4:32 – After Glen Davis jumper to make it 93-81, see a brief glimpse of what appears to be the sexiest Celtics fan ever. Rewind DVR…not as good as I thought, but I was fooled by the form fitting lady-version Celtics jersey. Lady Jerseys. Best. Invention. Ever.
4:20 – Tim Duncan rises over Big Baby, who isn’t big enough to stop a grown man. KM states: “Big Baby did everything he could, besides grow.” Funny. Yay, old-style Kevin. Duncan has 9 in the quarter. Swallows a fly on one of his jumpers.
4:00 – KG jumper, which is deadly tonight – he’s 7 of 9
2:52 – Pierce drives, misses, rebounds own miss and puts it in. Big play.
2:19 – KG money jumper. Celtics: 99-90
1:46 – KG money jumper: Celtics: 101-92
Unintentional dirty quote from Harlan: “What a stroke for Kevin Garnett!”
1:29 – Rondo to Big Baby for reverse lay up. Celtics: 103-92. Game over.
Duncan called for goaltending. Game overer.
1:24 – Rondo shooting freethrows. KM calls it “Hack a Rondo” time. But Rondo doesn’t touch the ball from this point.
The game sign off sounds a little like an Airplane movie bit:
“Good working with you, Kevin.” “Good working with you too, Kevin.” “We have clearance, Clarence.” “Roger, Roger. What's our vector, Victor?” “Tower's radio clearance, over!” “That's Clarence Oveur. Over.” “Over.” “Roger.” “Huh?”
This Division III guy is only 3 inches taller than me. Talented bastard. After his youtube dunk vid went viral, he proceeded to win the NCAA dunk contest. Props, homey.
Oh, and this mass hysteria happened. Hate everybody's behavior in this vid...Blake doing his best Manu Ginobili impression, Terry not letting it go, Barnes being one serious street thug who needs to be in every altercation. After the game, a guy in the parking lot was arguing with a hot dog vendor about the cost of a weiner, and Barnes went out and got involved in that too: