Kicking Bass

Brandon Bass DunkThere better be an NBA Playoffs BIG commercial for Brandon Bass ready to air in time for Game 6 in Philly. I’ll make it myself if I have to.

I don’t know what play they’d use (take your pick from the 3rd Quarter last night), but I’d personally go with this one, with the text “They might be the big three, but when the ball finds me, I know where to put it”:

And yes, for those of you looking closely enough at the bench’s reaction, there was yet another Keyon “Fighting Irish” Dooling “flexing” display (a term coined by his celebratory culprit-in-crime, Marquis Daniels). For more on the growing Boston Bench phenomenon of “flexing”, here’s an explanation (and awesome gif) straight from the leprechaun’s mouth.

Thanks to that Bass-kicking display, the Celtics are up 3-2 going into Philly, with confidence that anyone on the team can step up, impose his will and dominate a game to close out the series. Even the rookie Gregg Stiemsma had a fantastic game, blocking, pulling down boards and connecting with Rondo on the pick and roll.

That’s because the Celtics are playing like a well-oiled machine blending young, high energy players with older, craftier veterans. Rondo is the engine that stirs the drink, or whatever Chuck said…

When I watched the game last night, I heard Chris Webber talk about two Boston huddles that apparently got them fired up (Bass especially) and pushed them to take the lead. By all accounts it was battle-cry and a reminder that this team is a dangerous, mean, green monster. I’m not sure what Doc said, but I’m sure it was awe-inspiring. Some of that fire and brimstone, old-school, epic sh*t.  When and if that speech goes public, I want a copy of it so I can listen to it on my morning commute.

It was so motivational, in fact, that C-Webb couldn’t contain his jubilation, bringing back my personal favorite cheer, aka the “Futbol Announcer,” “Rondooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo” in the 4th Quarter:

It’s just so much fun to watch this Celtics team right now mainly because they are the ultimate 2nd half team. How they overcome deficits and execute when it counts. How on any given night they defer to the guy with the hot hand, and let him carry them. That’s because they play together, lock down on D and find the open man. Last night Bass was the open man and boy did he make the 76ers pay for it.

And like a true Celtics player, he had these choice words to say during the post-game interview:

“When you’re on a team with a guy like [Rajon] Rondo, the ball just happens to find you.”

I’m glad Bass said that. Even when last night HE was the man. Because, not to belittle his 27 point accomplishment, but his comment was spot-on. Bass was hungry, so Rondo kept feeding him – and that 18 point appetite saved the C’s.


You Won’t Like Me When I’m Angry

Kevin Garnett is the HulkThe worst thing you can do is give a Celtics great another reason to win. Because it awakens the Garden’s very own Green Monsters, turning Kevin Garnett into a one man wrecking crew, Rondo into a triple double machine (tied with Lebron in playoffs), and Pierce, well, into “The Motha*#$&ing Truth” (hey Shaq said it).

Simply put, the Celtics morph into mini-Hulks when the words and elbows start flying. So word for the wise, Don’t piss them off. Right Larry?

The Celtics are the pinnacle of basketball professionalism, from Russell to Bird to Pierce and Garnett. When you perform at such a high level (that I’ll admit borders on psychosis), you are locked in, focused and willing to do just about whatever it takes to win. 17 Banners hang in the Garden because this is the Celtics Way. And no one epitomizes it more than Kevin “Still The Big Ticket” Garnett.

When KG has this look on his face, you are in for trouble.

Sometimes I see this look in Garnett’s eyes, usually around the last 3 minutes of the 4th Quarter: The game is close, Garnett is sucking down wind and raining sweat. He looks spent. Then right before the inbounds pass, reset. His posture changes, he stops heaving and that look creeps up on his face. It’s probably the scariest thing you will ever see on a basketball court (or honestly in real life). It’s a death stare. Like looking into the teeth of a Great White. Woe is f*&%ing you, guy. You just poked the bear.

So why would you give KG a reason? Other than the fact that this is his last year and shot at another ring. You don’t think that motivates him enough? Why call out one of basketball’s best for being old? Why call him dirty? Crazy? Yes. Absolutely. But dirty? That’s just ignorant. And then you say he’s old? I don’t know many old guys that can put up 28 pts, 14 rebounds, 5 blocks and 3 steals in a playoff game. KG plays the game the way it is supposed to be played. Last night was a reminder.

So when Michael Gearon Jr., co-owner of the Hawks, took pot shots at KG and his illustrious career, he ruined any chance his team had at advancing into the semis. Yep. This loss is on Jr. Sorry dad.

Calling KG “old” and “dirty” is a personal affront to all that KG has accomplished, and thus, KG had to remind Gearon just who he was messing with, carrying the C’s en route to another playoff series win. Way to turn Bruce Banner into the Hulk, dingus. Here’s the press conference interview after the game:

Keep the insults coming and C’s may just have the last laugh.

Life After Mo

mariano rivera-By Michael Levere, @leverefamily

Today in many ways feels like the end of an era. There’s nothing worse in this Twitter age than checking your phone after yet another devastating Knicks loss to see a tweet from Bill Simmons saying, “Just floored by the Rivera news.” A torn ACL, and a likely end of career from the sounds of it for one of the great all-time Yankees, Mariano Rivera.

The best player of a generation for baseball that will forever be tainted by steroids and scandals, he was one of only three players for whom hearing they did steroids would cause you to spit up your food (along with Derek Jeter and Ken Griffey Jr.).

After suffering a torn ACL, baseball’s greatest closer will likely hang up his cleats for good.

Growing up in an age where the Yankees were no longer laughable losers, the face of the franchise to many was Jeter, but the heart was always Mariano. He was always the one you could count on, the one who never appeared to slow down. In the last few years there were whispers of decline for Jeter, with his worsening range and his penchant for the timely GIDP, but Mariano kept going strong. His ERA’s over the last four seasons since turning 38 were 1.40, 1.76, 1.80, and 1.91. I sense a downward trend! But you’re not reading this to learn about Mariano’s stats, and that’s not why I’m writing it.

In so many ways, it feels like a constant in my life for as long as I can remember has been Mo. From being a giddy 8-year old baseball fan yearning for Buck Showalter to put in Mariano in game 5 of the ALDS against the Mariners in 1995 to the final World Series ring for the modern Yankee dynasty in 2009, Mariano has always been there, marking the passing of the years:

-The perfect setup man for the 1996 team.

-Being in Cooperstown with my grandma watching him blow it against the Indians in 1997.

-Three magical World Series runs from 1998-2000, including a birthday party at Yankee Stadium for Joe DiMaggio day, on the last day of the season when the Yankees won their 114th game in 1998.

-Watching one of the hardest losses I’ve ever experienced in 2001 in my parents bedroom with my sister weeping.

-Holding down the fort for 3 innings to give Aaron Boone the chance to do his damage in 2003.

-Thanking the lord I was in a cabin in the woods to avoid the debacle that was 2004 (editor’s note: One man’s debacle is another’s Triumph!).

-The frustration of 2005-2007 embodied in the midges in Cleveland watching on our Akai TV our senior year of college, with the game certain to be blown once Mo was forced to exit.

-Having the first girl I loved fall asleep on my lap after one of our first dates during the World Series run in 2009.

The Yankees and baseball have marked time and memories in my life forever, and Mariano has always been the constant. There was a moment for Darryl Strawberry, recent Kevin Brown flashbacks with Amare’s foolish punches, Shane Spencer home runs aplenty, but no matter what, there was always Mariano. And while tracking an innocent fly ball, it’s all done.

You knew that one day it would have to happen, that Mariano couldn’t pitch until he was 50. But you always thought it would be on his terms, and that you would be prepared for it. That there would be a final moment in Yankee Stadium with a touching ceremony, giving everyone watching it the chills and bringing many to tears.

That’s what makes it so tough, this sudden unknown where something that has been such a stable steadying force in your life is now gone. Sure, in recent years I may have lost my love for baseball a bit, only getting excited for the playoffs, but there was something comforting knowing that any day I could turn on the Yanks and there was a good chance I’d get to hear Enter Sandman.

When I was younger, I always wondered what people who were the same age as athletes felt like. Was it weird knowing that someone who could easily have been in your third grade class was now out there playing the games that you loved and making more money than you could ever possibly imagine? Yet as I went through college and into the working world, the thought never really bothered me. But today, I suddenly feel a whole lot older.

A childhood hero of mine is likely hanging up his cleats, someone who I’ve been through so much with in my life. There are kids out there today in Los Angeles who will get to spend the next 15 years going through life marking time with Matt Kemp, kids in Boston who will do it with Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury, and kids in New York who do it with Robinson Cano. But for me, now I’m moving on with my life.

I still love the idea of playing baseball, following baseball, watching baseball, but without the best player of a generation, it really feels like that magical, childish aura around America’s past time is gone.