July 8, 1997
"Renounce" is such a powerful word, don't you think?
Maybe it's just that Catholic thing.
"Do you renounce Satan?"
That question should resonate in all those parochial school alums. I
mean, asking us if we wanted to just say no to Satan would have been one
thing, but asking us to renounce him was another matter entirely. The
word had real clout. Asking us to "renounce" Satan carried additional
weight. Criticizing Satan would have been one thing, but asking us to
"renounce" him told us that this really was a very bad creature.
And so the Celtics took the unprecedented step yesterday of not just
releasing, not just waiving, not just saying au revoir, to no fewer than
nine players, but of renouncing them all. You have this image of making
them walk the plank, or something.
long, Todd Day. Bye-bye, Rick Fox. Farewell, Frank (We Hardly Knew Ye)
Brickowski. Too-da-loo, Marty Conlon. See ya later, Brett Szabo. And
Godspeed, Nate Driggers, Michael Hawkins, Alton Lister, and Steve Hamer.
Nine guys whacked in one day. Nine guys swept out to sea to make room
for Travis Knight.
Wow. What a truly amazing country.
The good people in Huskyland must be slapping their very own selves
upside the head. They must figure there are two Travis Knights. Down in
the Nutmeg State, they surely believe we have a clear case of The Name's
The Same, because the Travis Knight they know could not possibly be
worth a seven-year NBA contract good for $ 22 million.
I recall driving home one night during Knight's junior year. He had
just turned in a creditable performance against someone or other, and I
was listening to the UConn postgame show on the radio. He hadn't put up
great numbers, just creditable ones. But they were slobbering all over
him, and I came to the conclusion that this might have been the night
when the 7-footer from Sandy, Utah, had first learned to, as they say,
walk and chew gum at the same time.
followed that up with a nice senior year, and I realized that he
actually had a chance to have a fringe NBA career because a) he was 7
feet tall, b) he could shoot from the foul line, and c) he could get up
and down the floor. But the absolute outer limit I foresaw was roster
filler. I figured that he could, if he looked both ways before crossing
the street and drank his milk to the bottom of the glass, become the
next Matt Bullard, but that's all. And the Matt Bullards of the world
don't command seven-year, $ 22 million contracts, even in this bloated
Well, God bless Travis
Knight is all I can say. Envy is a terrible vice, and so I will suspend
that thought on the say-so of Rick Pitino.
If Rick feels Travis showed enough last year as a Laker to be worth a $
22 million commitment which, for the time being, anyway, puts the
Celtics in a tenuous 1998 salary cap predicament, then I'm willing to go
along with the program. And before you even ask, no, I would not have
extended the same benefit of the doubt to M.L. Carr. If M.L. had done
this, I would have called for the league-authorized shrink. But M.L. had
forfeited all credibility. Rick is still in our honeymoon period.
for the renouncees, good bleepin' riddance to Todd Day. Let's start
with that. He came here as the party of the second part in a classic
my-headache-for-your-headache trade in which the Celtics shipped the
disgruntled Sherman Douglas to Milwaukee. Say this for Mr. Day: there
was no deceptive advertising. He came billed as a selfish, slothful,
entirely loathsome player who had occasional offensive ability, but no
real clue as to how to be a winning NBA player, and that's exactly what
he is. He was so labeled in Arkansas, and nothing has changed. Losing
him is a classic case of addition by subtraction. I would not only wish
him renounced. He also deserves to be denounced.
I will, however, miss Marty Conlon, the player my astute daughter
Jessica refers to as "Secret Weapon." He became something of a fan
favorite during the dismal 1996-97 season, although I was never quite
sure the crowd cheers were sincere. Whether they were or weren't, I'd
like to go on record as a big-time Marty Conlon fan. This is a man who
truly knows how to play basketball, whatever his physical limitations,
and I assume his career is far from over. He would have fit in with Pitino on his brainpower alone, and I'm willing to bet it pains the mentor to include him in this necessary purge.
the real killer here is saying farewell to Fox. Lord knows he has paid
his dues in this town. He gave the team six dedicated seasons. He played
every second of every game as hard as he could, and he did absolutely
everything asked of him by both Chris Ford and Carr.
I know he would have been an ideal Pitino
player, but the truth is that Fox deserves better. He deserves a
regular rotation spot on a contender, and he deserves it now, at age 28.
There are plenty of OK teams in this league who could use a legitimate
6-7 swingman with boundless energy, and I hope one of them makes him a
Let the record show that
Rick Fox should not be renounced. He should be bequeathed. Fox deserves a
testimonial banquet. Day is lucky we didn't build a scaffold. As for
Knight, get yourself a good financial planner and thank your maker he
saw fit to make you 7 feet tall.