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Open Letter to the Boston Celtics Management

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on December 14, 2014

Please get rid of the Celtic Dancers

I am a longtime season ticket holder, veteran basketball coach, fan, husband, and father. With the eye of an instructor to (mostly) adult players, and from our seats directly behind the visitors’ bench, I watch the opposing coach(es) and study the moves of the players on the floor. Game in and game out, there is on display the intelligence and athleticism and dedication of the players, the hard work of the coaching staffs. I’m a former longtime college coach who was dedicated to that game, meaning the college game, but, really, the best basketball in the world is in the NBA. Brad Stevens has the Celtics playing hard. They are bought in. The games are close and competitive. It’s great to watch the games.

Still, there is something missing for me. It’s simple and sad: I wish I could bring my daughter who loves basketball to the games. But I can’t. I just don’t know how I can bring an impressionable five-year-old girl to the games when the Celtics (and all NBA teams) demean women and negatively impact girls of all ages by insisting on including in the program barely clad, pelvic-thrusting, butt spanking, hair-flying, out-of-rhythm undulating, on the floor writhing, porn-straddling, quote-unquote dancers. It is ridiculous and embarrassing and completely unoriginal. Honestly, how am I, or any father or mother, supposed to sit there with my daughter, our daughters (and sons) and watch that? What message is my daughter going to take from it?

She loves to watch players dribble, shoot, pass, steal the ball. She can dribble already with either hand and doesn’t look at the ball. She’s proud of this. Yet I can’t take her to these games to see the best practitioners of this skill in person.

Imagine I am at TD Bank Garden. Celtics are playing, say, the Cleveland Cavaliers. You know: LeBron James, Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving. Crazy talent. Awesome basketball game. Interesting on about 40 different levels. Dazzling to a child. And then the Celtics Dancers come on. My daughter, my sweet impressionable kindergartner who, in addition to playing ball, likes to dress-up as a princess every now and then, is staring at the women, grownup girls, who are on the floor, literally on the floor, half butt-naked, in front of a sold-out crowd. I wanted to bring my daughter to see the best basketball in the world and I am sitting there feeling like I will have to answer to the Department of Social Services. It’s porn.

It’s not that a five-year-old wouldn’t be drawn in to the flash and noise of the “family entertainment” on full display. My question is how do I explain the Celtics Dancers? That men like that? That women like to act like that so men will like them? In public? In front of 18,624 people?

There are so many other halftime entertainment options: kids’ drum corps, musicians, skilled athletes from other endeavors, acrobats, leprechauns, and real dancers from all our neighborhoods and all walks of life. Why can’t you choose these? There are enough other awful things to explain about life: war and death and meanness of all kinds. Why must you add another?

What does this display have to do with basketball? Better question: What does this have to do with the attitude of men toward women?

Oh look, here is the answer made evident by watching: Women are objects, pieces of meat, and what’s wrong with slapping around or knocking out a piece of meat every now and then? Right, Ray Rice? What do you say, Jason Kidd? Connect the dots, Celtics ownership.

Another question: Do the Celtics have such little faith in the product they put on the floor during games that they feel they must peddle porn during time-outs? The tepid applause after the dancers leave the floor ought to be instructive.

In February 2004, Red Auerbach said, “They’re just waiting for me to die so they can get cheerleaders”. He was so right (though cheerleaders would be an improvement on what you have now). You waited until Red was dead. And the dancers writhe all along the spot on the floor where it says Red Auerbach. Nice.

So finally, what should I say to my daughter when she stares out on the court and sees a bunch of young women who are there to peddle the sexual aspect of their bodies, and nothing more? That’s life? That’s what important, smart, rich men think you and the world need? If the Celtics ownership had any vision or wisdom or heart or, frankly, balls, they’d step up and be the first to get rid of the dancers; have it be about basketball and teamwork and hard work and fun rooting for the home team for everyone, little girls and boys and their dads and moms included.

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Posted in notes: college & pro | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments »

The State of the Celtics (from the floor)

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on November 14, 2013

As of their first home game this year, their streak of sellouts stretching back to 2008 ended. I have been a season ticket holder for 15 years. Because of my lofty senior status (and the $$$ I have shelled out over those years) and their need to fill seats and to keep season ticket holders happy amidst the – ahem – rebuilding year, I got a call from the Celtic ticket office yesterday asking if I wanted two floor seats, 2nd row, under the basket near the visitors’ bench. Face value $575/seat. For free. I called my wife to see if she wanted to go. 90 minutes later she took this picture from our seats. Ainge At one point, she commented on how Ainge must be so wired into every play, every move, every gesture (it was interesting to see how many times players glanced ever so quickly and involuntarily at Ainge seeking, I dunno, affirmation? This includes former players like Al Jefferson and Ramon Sessions) and I said, “nah,” I didm’t think he looked it. After the way they played (89-83 loss to the team with the worst 10 year record in NBA history), it had me wondering if tanking is half the plan, and if it is, it allows Ainge to take a play or quarter off every now and again. What I saw was a GM not too concerned about losing. Image 2

Posted in beautiful basketball, notes: college & pro | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Of All the Things That Could Have Gone Wrong (Celts vs Heat, 11/09/13)

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on November 10, 2013

Yes, Jeff Green hit the three pointer at the buzzer (well, with about 0.2 secs left) to beat the two-time defending NBA champion Miami Heat, but what are the things that could have gone wrong but went right for the Celtics? And what is the one thing that no one is talking about?* (see no. 5*)

1. Dwayne Wade could have made both free throws with 0.6 secs left putting the game out of reach;

2. Dwayne Wade could have hit the rim and the Celtics would have lost at least another 0.3 secs (the required time that would elapse on a time-out for a ball rebounded after a missed free throw). Possible that the ball would have been tipped and not cleanly secured meaning if he hits the rim, game over;

3. Chris Bosh could have tipped the long (50-55′) pass from Gerald Wallace. I watched many slow motion replays and it looks to me that he missed it by less than an inch;

4. LeBron James could have not bitten or stepped toward the cutting Jordan Crawford (who had rec’d a baseline cross screen from Avery Bradley and a stationary screen from Kelly Olynyk) thereby giving Green the extra step away that allowed him to free himself and catch and get the shot off (which he did with amazing efficiency);

5*. The ref could have called 5 secs. Wallace held the ball out-of-bounds for more than 5 secs after receiving the ball. Ouch!!! The rule says (Rule 8, Sec 3a) “The throw-in starts when the ball is at the disposal of a player entitled to the throw-in. He shall release the ball inbounds within 5 seconds from the time the throw-in starts.” I replayed it at least 6 times and it never came in under 5.21 secs. Live, I was counting it out, panicking; it seemed close. A referee counting it out in his head and swinging his arm each time in an approximation of a second five times is just another thing – a big thing – that cost Miami the game and handed a great win to a resurgent group of New Celtics.

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Rajon Rondo: My New Favorite Player

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on October 21, 2010

From what I witnessed last night, I’d now say that Rajon Rondo is the de facto on-court leader of the Boston Celtics and one of the smartest players in the NBA. That combination (along with the way he impacts play over every inch of the court both on offense and defense) makes him a favorite of mine to watch. From our ninth row behind the visitors’ bench vantage point, here’s what I saw: on one possession, Devon Harris, still in the backcourt, is dribbling the ball upcourt slowly as Avery Johnson, Nets’ head coach, calls out the offense play (or set). Rondo watches Johnson and when Johnson is done, Rondo turns and yells the play out to Lawrence Frank (serving as one-game Celtics coach in Doc Rivers absence), swivels and tells the Celtics defenders where to cheat, where to overplay. I’d read that Rondo studies film more than anyone on the team, and here was the beautiful proof. Then he did the same thing on a handful of possessions. It was like he was cheating, making the game unfair. (Imagine that you are teenagers and you are dating Rondo’s sister. Rondo would be telling his dad and your sister every move you planned to make before you even got to hold her hand. Unfair.) On another play, 3rd quarter in the midst of the inevitable Celtics run, Shaq rebounds, outlets to Rondo who, seeing Ray Allen trailing, veers off and lays a perfect bounce pass to Allen who, knifing down the lane, goes up to the rim, but flips a nonchalant finger roll that slips off the rim and out. (Allen did get fouled.) The shot was totally makeable; either a dunk or something stronger than what he tossed up there. Here’s what was interesting: Rondo gave Allen a piece of his mind. Walked up to him, sneered. Snarled. At a 14 year veteran heading for the Hall of Fame! I mean, if you care about the game, think that every play ought to matter, that a championship is earned through the accumulation of effort from the beginning of the first day of practice till the final horn, you had to love what Rondo was about last night. I did.

Posted in beautiful basketball, defense, notes: college & pro | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Where Does Rondo Rank?

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on December 18, 2008

 

Augie Picks One Off

Augie Picks One Off

There’s been a lot of talk recently here in Boston about the emergence of Rajon Rondo, talk that places him among the top point guards in the NBA. Celtics’ teammates are pushing for him to be a possible “fourth Celtic” at the All-Star game. Last week, pre-game, Tommy Heinsohn, Celtic broadcaster said Rondo was the top point guard in the East and among the top three in the league. Of course, Heinsohn (great player in his time and innovative coach) is famous (or infamous) for being a “homer” and is prone to hyperbolic parochial projections. (I remember he once declared that Vitaly Nikolaevich Potapenko – for whom they traded away the rights to Andre Miller – would be a top-five NBA center. Always easily influenced, the next day, in a field near my house, I declared, Augie, my Brittany Spaniel, in the top three frisbee catchers nationally.) 

 

Undeniably, Rondo has come a long way. His first year, he split time, actually backed up, at the point with someone who wasn’t even a point guard: Delonte West. (What is a point guard? Someone whose DNA instructs them to get in the lane and draw defenders for the expressed intent of dishing to the open man. This is what they are bred to do. Delonte West who I love as a player was not wired this way.) Next year (last year) he found himself in heaven, a sort of probationary heaven. Surrounded by three future Hall of Famers, his job was to play to his skills, not try to do too much, move the ball, distribute the ball, disrupt defensively, gather bonus “effort stats”, set and control tempo (whether fast or slow). If he could do this, and he certainly could have assumed lots of pressure and succumbed to that, then life would be good. He pulled it off; he was, at minimum, instrumental in their championship success (even dominating the clinching Game Six versus the didn’t-know-what-hit-’em Lakers).

Still, when it comes to ranking players, it comes down to this: who would you trade for him, straight-up? Rather, let’s put it this way: what coach would trade – let’s say for the remainder of this season and the whole following year, enough time to blend – their point guard for Rajon Rondo? (Putting aside fan hysteria, player popularity, etc. The only criteria for the coach would be: can Rajon Rondo do more good things for my team than the point guard I have now?) His ranking would thus be one below the number of coaches who would not trade for him. So, in no particular order:

1. would Byron Scott let go of CP for RR?

2. Coach Popovich says au revoir to Tony Parker?

3. the Suns trade Steve Nash, two-time MVP, straight up for Rajon?

4. George Karl trades Chanucy “Big Shot” Billups to the Celts for the former Kentucky Wildcat?

5. Mo Cheeks Tony DiLeo trade Vitaly Potapenko, I mean, Andre Miller for Ragin’ Rondo?

6. Rondo coveted by the even more diminutive Lawrence Frank for Devin Harris?

7. How about Derrick Rose in Green? Would Vinny Del Negro become the 7th coach fired this year?

8. What would Jerry Sloan do with RR instead of Deron Williams?

9. Baron Davis?

10. Jason Kidd/José Calderon/TJ Ford/DJ Augustin?

So, does Rajon crack the top ten? Maybe, depending on team’s needs. I love Rondo, but, really, if you’re talking top five or top three – I don’t know, anybody seen my Pooper Scooper around?

Posted in notes: college & pro | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Final Celtics’ Player Scorecards (Nos 8,9,10)

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on June 25, 2008

8. PJ Brown: A little tough to pick PJ (Collier) Brown Jr over Leon Powe, given that Powe had more minutes, more production and more rebounds per rebound opportunity than just about anyone in the league, but the Celts plucked PJ from semi-retirement for his possible value come playoff time. His work in Game Seven in the 2nd Round versus the Cavs alone made his acquisition worthwhile. He called that left-wing 15 fter the “biggest shot of my career”. The Celts also were interested in him for his high character value. The winner of numerous sportsmanship and community service awards throughout his NBA career, pretty much assured that PJ, big as he is, posed no threat to rock the boat. He’s the consummate pro: knew his role (rebound, score a little, defend a lot), steadily improved stats and skills throughout his career. What I like best about him? That sweet short stroke on his perimeter shot. No extra motion. (You want to eliminate motion on your jumper: everything calm and in sync.) That’s why he’s an outstanding free throw shooter (at 6’11”). Short stroke. Easy to locate and repeat the proper release point over and over again. Not much can go wrong. That’s why he so confidently nailed that shot versus Cleveland. PJ Brown, in my book, is a certified authentic NBA hero.

9. Leon Powe: Everybody knows the story of Leon Powe by now. It’s one to remember when the tendency to stereotype NBA players comes around. The really tough times as a kid, the painful losses, the willingness to work hard, the will to survive. Here’s a guy we can all root for. What might get overlooked when we see the drive and determination is the talent that Leon Powe brings to the basketball court. Top five in his high school class nationally. Monster years early on at Cal in the tough Pac-10. Hobbled by multiple knee surgeries, he’s overcome that too and made himself into a legit NBA defender, rebounder and scorer. A hyper opportunistic, starving-for-the-ball and what-hard-work-can-accomplish type rebounder, Powe had the fourth highest Offensive Rebound Rate. Throw in his demolition of The Lakers in Game Two and you’ve got the perfect fit for a team on a roll to a storybook season. Leon Powe may be on the threshold of a big-time NBA career. And who could possibly be more deserving?

10. “Big Baby” Davis: Hard to know what the Celts thought they’d be getting when they got Davis from Seattle with Ray Allen. 35th picks often don’t make the roster. He’d made a “big” name for himself during LSU’s Final Four run in 2006. Even NTL players at our camps, grown men and women were asking that they be referred to as “Big Baby”. He had charisma and he had game. But he was one stocky dude. They had to see if he could get in shape and if that getting in shape would translate to enough stamina to compete. Vertically he was undersized, horizontally, no. Some stocky dudes use that well (Charles Barkley: “a fat guy who can play like the wind” – college recruiter upon seeing Barkley for the first time), but quick feet and good hands have to be part of the equation. In addition to taking up space (a “huge” advantage) for rebounding, a good feel for passing and finding open players, he seemed to be willing to work hard and learn. He survived rumors of a demotion to the NBDL and impressed with his early play. He looked a keeper. One of the Celts defining victories this season, one which helped silence doubters and bolstered their own confidence was their win at Detroit, Jan 5th. A classic regular season game, one which carried heavy post-season implications. Davis was immense finishing deftly around the hoop, often with his left hand, the recipient of great interior passing from KG and Pierce, especially. He didn’t get much run in the playoffs, mostly because of PJ’s experience and Powe’s emergence. I don’t think the staff lost confidence in him at all; there just weren’t enough minutes. I saw him play and frustrate Tim Duncan at The Garden in February, so the staff knew he could play good minutes against anyone. Could the Celts have won without him? Yeah, probably, but it has been much more fun with him and it will be interesting to see how huge he, I mean, how he progresses.

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