McHale Denies Garnett Conspiracy

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June 19, 2008 Thursday

Timberwolves boss Kevin McHale congratulated Boston General Manager Danny Ainge by telephone Wednesday, one day after the Celtics won their 17th NBA championship.

McHale and Ainge were Celtics teammates the last time Boston had won a title, in 1986. 

McHale also expressed his happiness for Kevin Garnett, who spent 12 ultimately unfulfilling seasons with the Wolves, and maintained the team did the right thing by trading Garnett to Boston last summer for five players, including young star Al Jefferson, and two future draft picks.

"I'm happy with the direction we went in," McHale said after he watched potential draft picks work out at Target Center Wednesday. "The (contract) extension that Kevin was looking for -- $20 million for three years, a $60 million deal -- just was not going to happen. Glen (Wolves owner Glen Taylor) just was not comfortable doing that. When you get to that point, you say, `If we're not going to sign him, we better trade him.' I thought that was the best deal by far, and I still think that."

At his season-ending news conference in April, somebody asked McHale if he would accept a championship ring if the Celtics won the title. He said no. When Larry Bird participated in an NBA media conference before the NBA Finals began, the first questioner asked Bird if he thought McHaletraded Garnett to the Celtics rather than the Los Angeles Lakers because of the fierce rivalry between the teams.

"That's people's perception," McHale said, shrugging. "If you think I went to seven guys on my staff and said, `Tell Glen this is a better deal,' if you think I made that deal in an afternoon over coffee. ... That deal went on for like a month and a half. That's just how things work. It's a business, man."


Isiah Thomas Weighs in on Garnett Conspiracy

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November 30, 2007 Friday

BOSTON - With all due respect, Isiah Thomas makes sure to say, he hates the Celtics.

"I have a great respect for Boston, a very healthy respect," the Knicks' president-coach said Thursday before his team's first regular-season meeting against the retooled Gang Green.

"But I don't like 'em. I don't like the Celtics. But it's out of respect because they were always good. And they're good again. 

"So my hatred is that much more."

That hatred dates back to the pitched battles he and the Pistons played against the Celtics, including five playoff series. Detroit won the last three after Boston won the first two, including a seven-game Eastern Conference finals in 1987 the year before the Pistons took the Celtics out in the same round in six games.

The Celtics then played in the old Boston Garden, where the fans weren't exactly enamored with Thomas. Thus, to this day, he says that unlike other road cities, he never goes out to eat or even walks around Boston, for fear of a negative reaction.

"We won our share of games here in the (old) Garden," said Thomas, whose team played Thursday in the "new" TD Banknorth Garden. "We had some good battles here and I had some great games in the Garden. The fans are great here. They get on you. I like the pressure that comes with playing in the Boston Garden."

Thus, he insisted, he looked forward to Thursday's game, not so much as a statement game, but as a measuring stick of the progress his team has made since its 2-9 start and eight-game losing streak.

Although he won't admit it, he would've done practically anything to bring Kevin Garnett to New York, but didn't have what Danny Ainge had to bring him to Boston - including a relationship with Minnesota general manager Kevin McHale, like Ainge a former Celtic.

Thomas even suggested a conspiracy of sorts Thursday, saying that McHale "knew exactly what he was doing when he made the trade becauseGarnett's a Celtic and he's been trained by a Celtic and he fits here."


Bird Not Buying Garnett Conspiracy Theory

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June 4, 2008

The rivalry between the Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers has prompted some fascinating debates over the years, but at least one inquiring mind wanted to know:

Is the rivalry the reason Kevin Garnett ended up in Boston?

During yesterday's NBA teleconference with Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, Bird was asked if Minnesota Timberwolves vice president of basketball operations Kevin McHale traded Garnett to Boston last summer in part to prevent Garnett from joining the Lakers.

Naturally, Bird dismissed the notion out of hand, albeit with a playful dig at Celtics director of basketball operations Danny Ainge.

``Knowing Danny, he was in Kevin's ear every day - and probably the last one that called got him,'' said Bird, noting that the Lakers and general manager Mitch Kupchak similarly had expressed interest in Garnett. ``I think Kevin really likes the players that Boston had, and that's probably why the deal was made.''

Before Garnett was dealt to Boston, many believed the Lakers and Phoenix Suns were the primary suitors for his services. While a Phoenix package included forward Shawn Marion, the Lakers were believed to offer a package built around forward Lamar Odom.

The Celtics, of course, offered a package built around power forward Al Jefferson, who averaged 21.0 points and 11.1 rebounds for the Timberwolves this season. Jefferson outperformed both Marion and Odom, and is considerably younger than both players.

``Garnett (initially) didn't want to leave (and) Kevin didn't want to trade him,'' Bird said. ``I think other people got involved at the last minute and decided (a trade) was probably the best way to go - young, try to rebuild it.''

So Garnett came to Boston and helped deliver the Celtics to the Finals.


McHale Prevented Garnett from Going to the Lakers

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Phil Jackson: Dr. [Jerry] Buss came to me and said, "I have a handshake agreement with Taylor, that he's going to come to L.A. But McHale hasn't concurred yet." So I said, "Well that's a good excuse." You always, as an owner, say, "I'll do this, but …" So I kept that hope out there, that he was gonna be a part of the Laker organization.

While I've told this story several times on this blog, no one in the mainstream media ever seems to get it straight. But this article is getting closer. Note, in what should be bold, italicized print:

"We have a deal. But Kevin McHale isn't on board yet."

Nor would he ever be.

Now insert this paragraph.

Danny Ainge, Celtics GM: Because Kevin and I were such close friends, we had numerous conversations over the years [about Garnett]. We realized that Paul [Pierce] and KG would be a great combination. We thought that they really complemented each other well. So we discussed the possibility of Paul going to Minnesota or KG coming to Boston, like which way is the best way to do it.

I don't care if the Lakers had offered Chamberlain, Jabbar, and Shaq in their primes. There is simply no way Kevin McHale was going to send Garnett to the Lakers and pair him up with Kobe. Not when the championship score was 16-14 (at the time), and the Lakers just one piece away from more titles. Not with the rest of the Celtics 1986 championship team looking over McHale's shoulder. Not with the city of Boston occupying his psyche and every fiber of his being.

And now we know there were only ever two choices.

Garnett would end up in Boston.


Pierce would end up in Minnesota.

Thank you, Kevin McHale.

Phil Jackson: "I've always kind of hinted that, in fun."


I'm not sure getting your ass humiliated in the 2008 Finals is what most people would consider fun.

But whatever floats your boat, Herr Zen Mistress.

Oh, and if you need further proof of McHale's unwillingness to make any move that improves the Lakers' chances for another title, read this post.

Celtics Handling the Rock Much Better

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March 17, 2002

SAN ANTONIO - When Paul Pierce perused the box score of Friday night's game against the Grizzlies, he could find only one positive statistic on the sheet (other than the final score): The Celtics kept their turnovers down to 12. Boston's abilty to hold onto the ball has become a trademark this season.


Will Rodney Rogers be the Victim of a Budget Decision?

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March 17, 2002

Rick Pitino always used to call them "budget decisions," which didn't endear him to ownership or the public. If he didn't, wouldn't, or couldn't sign a player, it was always a budget decision. David Wesley? Budget decision. Ron Mercer? Budget decision. Danny Fortson? Budget decision.


Employee #8 Seals the Deal

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March 16, 2002

MEMPHIS - When Antoine Walker heaved a last-second shot from beyond halfcourt, he thought more about starting a celebration than making the unlikely attempt. But just when it seemed the Celtics had exhausted all of their late-game luck, the ball fell through the net at the buzzer.


Potapenko Rises

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March 16, 2002

MEMPHIS - When the Celtics' winning streak started, most players were quick to offer a qualifier. "We're winning without Tony Battie," they said, implying that the return of their starting center would make an added difference. Vitaly Potapenko was filling space in the middle, but certainly not occupying anyone's thoughts. That was until he started grabbing rebounds at key moments, especially on the offensive glass.


C's on a Roll

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March 15, 2002

Rolling, rolling, rolling. The Celtics are gathering momentum at just the right time, which means plenty of postgame chest bumps and no doubters. Even coach Jim O'Brien, who is never satisfied and always wants practice time, gave the Celtics yesterday off.


Chris Wallace Entitled to Gloat?

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March 13, 2002

WALTHAM - Go ahead and gloat, Chris Wallace. You've certainly earned the right. Who can forget the days when know-it-alls and sportswriters - yes, I realize that's redundant - questioned your ability to make a good trade?


Nets Drop 4 Straight Out West

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March 13, 2002

WALTHAM - All in all, Paul Pierce is happy that he'll be playing even more competitive basketball this summer, for the United States' entry in the World Championships.

All in all, Jim O'Brien would rather Pierce find the nearest beach and chill.


Celtics Emerging from Years in the Desert

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March 12, 2002

WASHINGTON - Thirty-six wins. That represented the high-water mark for Rick Pitino and only a dream for M.L. Carr. It was even unapproachable in Chris Ford's final days. But it's what the Celtics had last year - and what they have this year, with 19 games remaining. Is there any more graphic evidence of this team's growth and success than that one number?


A Statement Game for Da Green

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March 14, 2002

As far as Paul Pierce and Antoine Walker know, last night's game between the Celtics and Nets was an example of playoff basketball. The cocaptains have never been to the postseason, so they could only guess that the intensity will be similar in late April. They presume that players will dive after loose balls in the first quarter, that the crowd will care about every possession, that comfortable leads will be hard to come by.


Battie Day-to-Day

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March 14, 2002

Let it be known that the decision to rest starting center Tony Battie last night at the FleetCenter had nothing to do with the fact that Nets center Todd MacCulloch was also out injured, nor did it have anything to do with the fact that the Celtics' five-game winning streak occurred while Battie was sidelined. According to coach Jim O'Brien, the reason Battie sat out was to make sure the small tear in his right calf is completely healed when he returns.


Jackie Mac Weighs in on Revamped Celtics

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March 14, 2002

The Boston Celtics are back on the sports radar screen, buoyed by a trade that injected yet more 3-point shooters into the mix and All-Star performances by the Big Two, Paul Pierce and Antoine Walker, and a six-game winning streak that added some significant weight with a thrilling 97-89 win over the Atlantic Division-leading New Jersey Nets last night at a rollicking FleetCenter.


Celtics Down Nets in ECF Preview

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March 14, 2002

Rod Thorn is in his second season as president and general manager of the New Jersey Nets. But he's been around the NBA long enough to have offered up, unsolicited, the following astute observation last night: "Did you ever think you'd see a meaningful game between the Celtics and Nets in March?"

Uh, no. Not in this millennium. Not for both teams.


Luke Walton: 17, Steph Curry: 3

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Luke Walton: 17, Steph Curry: 3

March 26, 2015

Stephen Curry is having a great season, doing a lot of winning, ruthlessly burying opponents with his three-pointers and free throws, breaking their spirit and then rubbing it in a bit. And that's just against other Warriors.

Celtics are 25-2 When they Score 100 Points

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March 12, 2002

WASHINGTON - This season, he became an NBA All-Star for the first time, and now Paul Pierce can add something else to his burgeoning basketball resume: member of the United States team for the 2002 World Championships.


Warriors' Rise Coincides with Walton's Arrival

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The San Francisco Chronicle (California)

April 28, 2015 Tuesday

 By Scott Ostler

Between Games 3 and 4 in New Orleans, I sat down with Luke Walton, one of Kerr's assistants. Walton is a rookie coach, so he and fellow rookie Kerr have kind of bonded in that respect. They both know what they don't know about coaching, and they both know that sometimes they do as much learning as coaching.

Celts Keep Jordanless Wizards in a Rut

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March 11, 2002

Pretty soon, if things don't change, the postgame routine for Wizards coach Doug Collins is going to be the following: Ibid.

Then, he can walk back into the locker room and wonder how he is ever going to keep his slip-sliding team in the playoff race with a brutal schedule stretch ahead and no Michael Jordan on the horizon.


Vitaly Potapenko Helps Secure Win

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March 11, 2002
When the Celtics credit Vitaly Potapenko with the top two plays of the game for grabbing consecutive offensive rebounds late in the fourth quarter, it says a lot about the quality of the contest. Play in yesterday's not-ready-for-a-national-audience matchup between Washington and Boston ranged from soporific to ugly to aggravating.

Chuck Da Three and Play D

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Chuck Da Three and Play D

March 11, 2002

If at first you don't succeed, try, try, try, try, try, try . . . Well, without repeating the word 25 times, you get the picture. The Celtics went 6 for 25 from 3-point range yesterday. The gospel for Boston this season has been that every open 3-pointer is a 3-pointer worth taking. So it's no wonder the Celtics lead the NBA in 3-pointers made and attempted (512 for 1,438).


Wizards Sans Jordan Visit Fleet

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Wizards Sans Jordan Visit Fleet

March 10, 2002

WALTHAM - Michael Jordan won't be coming through the FleetCenter door today, which undoubtedly will be a disappointment to some who snatched up tickets for this game last fall. MJ is on the IL, and this is Washington's last appearance in Boston this season. Now you see him, now you don't. Wait till next year. Maybe.


Red has Words with Delk

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March 9, 2002
Red Auerbach held court in the Boston locker room after the game, as only he can. He wanted to know where Tony Delk was, shouting for one of the Celtics' newest acquisitions. Caught off guard by the sudden search, Delk rushed over to Auerbach's side not sure what to expect. Auerbach had a pointed complaint.

Post-Trade Reflections from Red

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March 9, 2002

Team president and patriarch Red Auerbach visited the FleetCenter last night, surveying the post-trade Celtics in person for the first time. He touched on a number of topics, including the deal, the play of Antoine Walker and Paul Pierce, the coaching of Jim O'Brien, the playoffs, and the future of Joseph Forte, in typical fashion. Up-front and unsparing. But truth be told, he had no complaints about the way the Celtics have played this season.


Celtics Regaining War Mentality

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Celtics Regaining War Mentality

March 9, 2002

A week ago, after the Celtics' fourth straight loss, and a bad one at that, a glum Paul Pierce told anyone who'd listen that he knew what was wrong.

"We've lost the war mentality that we had earlier this season," he said. "But we will get it back."


Walker and Pierce: Dishing the Dimes

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March 8, 2002

The behind-the-back, no-look toss. The alley-oop. The fast-break outlet. They all work just fine, but Celtics coach Jim O'Brien will take a simple pass any time. That's the key to having six players record multiple assists, as Boston did against Orlando Wednesday night. Antoine Walker and Kenny Anderson led the way with seven apiece, followed by Paul Pierce with five.

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