Starring Metta’s pass, Boston’s old man uprising and Kevin McHale’s career redemption.
1) Mr. World Peace really, really felt like playing another 5 minutes last night
What, you have a better explanation for whatever the fuck he was trying to do here?
I know this much: I’ve played Basketball all my life, and from day one, every coach I always had taught me that the smartest thing to do when up 2 points with 1 second left was to pass the ball all the way into the backcourt, right under my opponents basket. And If you manage to do it when the guy you are trying to hit isn’t even looking, all the better.
Not enough is made of the kind of dizzy fun that MWP provides to anyone who has the pleasure of watching him play a full season, but it’s not lost on me. Not even a little bit. I’ll definitely miss it when he’s amnestied this summer.
2) And this years’ winner of the proverbial “nobody wants to see them in the playoffs” award is…
…Those gritty Boston geezers. Somehow, someway, Boston has managed to compile a 17-7 record after a 15-17 start that had them clinging to 8th seed in the East. Now, these old dudes have girded up their loins for what could be their last post season by reeling off blowout wins over the likes of Miami, Indiana and Utah, among others.
If this is indeed the last ride for the Big 3 (+ Rondo), it’s probably not gonna lack for drama. Now that Ray Allen is back, they are as healthy as they’ve been all season, Rajon Rondo is dishing out assists like there ain’t no tomorrow (14 a game since mid-march) and the team appears to be firing on all cylinders.
Nothing new for a Doc Rivers-coached team, of course. As long as his team hits the post-season in one piece, there always gonna be dangerous.
Of course, we’ll have to wait to see how the seeding shakes out, but they look to have the Atlantic division sewn up, which means they’ll be no lower than 4th. That puts them in against either Orlando or Atlanta in the first round, which makes them a safe bet for a 2nd round match-up in Chicago. Yeah, they’ll be underdogs, but they’ll also be a major pain in the Bulls’ ass.
You can bet on it.
3) Kevin McHale the GM would have never been smart enough to hire Kevin McHale the coach
Never in a million years.
Let’s be real here. McHale, the pride & joy of Minnesota, was given every possible chance to succeed in Minnesota, and the best he could do in his 14 years as GM of the T’wolves was one trip to conference finals. And that was with Kevin Garnett, latrell Sprewell and Same Cassell.
Otherwise, his tenure was one of the greater management failures in recent sports. Gifted a franchise player in Garnett, McHale flailed about for years in a vain attempt to build a team around him. Some of his greatest hits include:
-Drafting Ray Allen, then traded him for Stephon Marbury. Marbury lasted two and a half years in Minny before demanding to be traded somewhere, anywhere where he wouldn’t have to share the spotlight. McHale gave him wish, getting only Wally Szczerbiak and Terrell Brandon in return.
-becoming one of the worst drafters in the history of sport. Really, his draft-day foibles are downright artistic. Here’s a list of the #1 picks in the KG era: Paul Grant (20th), Rasho Nestervoic (17th), William Avery (14th), Ndubi Ebi (26th) Rashad mcCants (14th) and Corey Brewer (7th).
Goddamn, that’s a shitty list of players.
Oh yeah, he did manage to draft Brandon Roy 6th in 2006! But he traded him minutes later…
…for Randy Foye.
Of course, you might be asking yourself, “why did Minnesota only have 8 first round picks in 14 years? That doesn’t add up”.
Joe Smith is why.
As in, McHale tried to circumvent the salary cap by signing Smith to a series of one year contracts for below his market value, after which he’d sign him to a monster deal when they had the cap space. Of course, David Stern got wind of it and promptly dropped the hammer on the Wolves, taking away FIVE first round picks and 3.5 million dollars in fines.
That’s right. For trying to illegally sign Joe Smith, a career 11 point scorer, the Wolves’ ability to build around Garnett was essentially flushed down the toilet.
And after all of that, it wasn’t until McHale traded KG for 60 cents on the dollar and the team bottomed out at 22 wins in 2008 and 24 in ’09 that McHale was finally, mercifully, shown the door.
Forgive me for that whole tirade, but I’ve actually got a point here.
Thing is, as bad as he was a personnel man, well, that’s how good he is as a coach. Kevin McHale, the Hall-of-fame player, gregarious charmer and all-around swell guy has turned out to be quite the leader of men. Hired by the Rockets to guide a team full of plenty of good players and no great ones, he’s managed to coax a 32-25 record out of them (good for 6th in the brutal western Conference) despite injuries to his mainstays and a the age-old problem of dealing with a roster full of guys who all feel like they should be playing more.
If it’s true that the NBA is a players’ league, it’s also true that the right coach can make plenty of difference if he has the players respect and the ability to keep them motivated. In that sense, McHale has proven to be a major revelation. Now, I personally think the coach of the year award is a gigantic waste, since it only seems to go to coaches whose teams were merely average when people expected them to be shitty. Hell, Phil Jackson won the award a grand total of ONCE, and if that ain’t proof that the award is a waste of time, I don’t know what is.
That said, McHale should be considered the co-favorite this year, trailing only Tom Thibodeau, who obviously has some sort of working arrangement with the devil these days, considering the amount of wins he’s squeezed out of a team featuring Derrick Rose (who has missed half the season, by the way) and a bunch of sidekicks.
Talk about going from zero to hero. Sometimes, a guy has to keep trying to he finds his calling or whatever.