Danny Recovers from his Pitinoesque Moment

I like to quote former Boston Celtics coach Rick Pitino because, well, he was quotable. I quote the "Havlicek without a jumpshot" comparison so often that some of you thought I really agreed with Pitino when he said that Bruce Bowen played the game about as well as John Havlicek (sans a reliable jump shot). In fact, I find the comparison perhaps the most outrageously laughable quote in the history of recorded sports, since on certain days I believe Hondo was better than Bird and Bruce Bowen circa 1998 wasn't even as good as Darren Daye in 1987.

It's laughable not just because the comparison is off mark. It's not even laughable because it is so off mark as to offend long-time Celtics' fans who celebrate the greatness that was Hall-of-Famer John Havlicek and who bristle when #17 is compared to a scrub on a bad team.

The part that is outrageously laughable is that it never dawned on poor Pitino that what he said might need editing before it departed from his brain, entered his mouth, and passed through his lips, much like 1,000 other things Pitino said during his tenure in Beantown, though none of them approached this humdinger in terms of laughability.

Enter Danny Ainge.

Somewhere between the 29- and 32-second marker of this video, Ainge utters the following phrase: "I think we have the best front court we've had . . . maybe ever . . . in this franchise." I put the elipses in there for a reason. In print, NESN (same link) translates the quote as follows: "Ainge says the team's front court is the best its been since the team had Bird, McHale and Parish."

Not exactly what came out of his mouth . . . first . . . before Danny's real-time editor kicked in. No, what came out of his mouth had one puny little qualifier: "maybe." Throw in the "maybe" and then his subsequent back-pedaling recovery mechanism ("or at least since Bird, McHale, Parish, Wedman, and Walton. I guess that was pretty good, too. Huge smile, laughing at his initial, unedited impudence).

On its face, the comparison is indeed laughable.

Kendrick Perkins better than Robert Parish? Kevin Garnett better than Kevin McHale? Paul Pierce better than Larry Bird? Rasheed Wallace better than Bill Walton? I'm not sure the current roster wins a fan or pundit vote on any of those match-ups, especially since Ainge's observation was made in the present tense (this year), when the health of KG's knee is in question, and the comparison would be to the 1986 team, when Bill Walton's feet and ankles played in more than 100 games from exhibition season to championship and when Kevin McHale was probably the second best player in the NBA behind Larry Bird.

Still, the comparison doesn't plummet to the depths of the Bowen-Havlicek comparison. Taken as a group, it is not inconceivable that KG, Sheed, Perk, and Pierce could outplay the '86 squad over 7 games. Would Perkins be intimidated by Parish or Walton? I think not. How would the decisive rebounding advantage enjoyed by the original Big Three have been diminished by the defensive intensity and rebounding prowess of what I like to call the New Big Three (Perk, Sheed, and KG)?

As I'm fond of saying in recent posts, you just don't know until you get it on.

So even one of Danny's more memorable verbal miscues is arguably defensible, unlike that other guy, whose miscues remain the object of ridicule to this day.


FLCeltsFan said...

As much as I love Perk, and I REALLY love Perk as a player, I would never say that he is better than the Chief. And, Pitino is still uttering completely ridiculous stuff.

Lex said...

I agree. But do you think that Parish necessarily dominates that match-up?

The Kid said...

Kevin Garnett is better than Kevin McHale, and Rasheed Wallace is better than mid 80's Bill Walton.

Lex said...

Hey Kid, I say the proof will be in the pudding. Walton was sixth man of the year and dominated Kareem both times they played. Will sheed have a similar impact? Will KG be healthy?

Lex said...

Kid, another question:

Are you of a mind to say this might be the best celtics team ever?

Obviously, I've got certain expectations if I'm comparing them to the 71-72 lakers.

Still, they could win it but just be a very good team.

FLCeltsFan said...

I don't think anyone dominates Perk because of his defense. He may not be flashy, he may not put up a lot of points, but he doesn't let the other centers do it either. Also, Perk's value is not to be found in stats. He might not get the rebound but he is there doing the dirty work to box out the opponents so that his teammates can get the rebound. He might not get the points, but he is there doing the dirty work of setting the screen so that his teammates are open for the shot. He is second to none in those areas.

Lex said...

The 1986 squad had a lot of big name HOFers, all time greats. But once you take the floor, you still have to play the game. I'm not sure anybody from 86 other than Kite would enjoy banging with Perk.

By himself, Perk is not a game changer. You throw him on a team with talent, and he becomes one, a very big one.

FLCeltsFan said...

If you don't believe that Perk is a game changer on this team, just go back to the 2008 finals and look at games 1,2,3,4, and 6. Then look at game 5 when Perk sat out. In game 5, Gasoft and Odom played like all stars and dominated the inside. In games 1-4 and 6, they couldn't do anything in the paint or anywhere near it.

Lex said...


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