Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Hoop & The Harm: Notes from the Hardcourt

Strange Times in Beantown

It’s been a funny season for the Boston Celtics so far.

Their 26-7 record leads the Eastern Conference, despite the massive run the Miami Heat have been on since late November. The Celtics have their own “Big Three” of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen to compete with the Wade/James/Bosh tandem of their conference rivals. So it’s been a good season on the court so far.

Off the court though, it’s a different story!

Lets start with Pierce – Celtics fans are upset this week after “The Truth” was hit with a $15,000 fine by the NBA for “throwing an object” into the stands in a recent win over the Pacers, the same game that saw him drink a fan's water. According to ESPN (via Celtics Hub), the league won’t confirm what he threw, but it might have been his gum.

Pierce was subbed out after picking up his second foul with eight minutes left in the first quarter. A FoxSports feed of the game shows him taking his gum out of his mouth and giving it a flick as he passes the scorer’s table. It was nothing crazy, there was no big wind up or anything. Was that it? The NBA won’t say…

The league has been all over the Celtics recently though – the day before that game Shaquille O’Neal was fined $35,000 for calling the refs of Boston’s Christmas Day loss to Orlando “control freaks.”

When asked about the fine, the Big Shamrock was clearly distraught:

It’s not just the NBA getting all up in Boston’s face either. PETA got involved this past week when Rajon Rondo posted a picture of Nate Robinson wearing what has to be one of Shaq’s fur coats on Twitter.

That got the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (when it gets them in the headlines) quite upset, and they gave Robinson an ultimatum (via The Boston Globe):

“In exchange for your donation (of the coat), PETA will allocate funds equivalent to the value of the coat to pay for veterinary care for dogs and cats owned by low-income people in the Boston area…Each year, millions of foxes, minks, coyotes, rabbits – even dogs and cats – are bludgeoned, genitally electrocuted, drowned and strangled with wire nooses so that their skins can be made into fur coats and other items…”

Rick Chandler with NBC Sports has an update on the story – he says PETA emailed him to say that Robinson’s people got in contact with them to say the coat isn’t his and he doesn’t own any fur. The email went on to say that PETA is pleased to learn that his wardrobe is fur-free.

Hmm, a quick search of the PETA website shows no request for Shaq to go fur-free, when the jacket is clearly his. It’s funny to me that they would just drop it so quickly after making such a big stink over the pictures.

Are they scared of the Diesel?

POM, but not MVP?

The NBA is out with its players of the month for December: LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in the East, Kevin Durant in the West.

I’m not sure how often two players from the same team share the award, but with the Heat going 15-1 in the month with 10 road wins and both guys averaging over 25 points per game (25.2 for James, 27.9 for Wade), I suppose it makes sense.

James had two triple-doubles in December and led his team in assists 13 times and scoring seven times, while Wade led the team eight times in points, five times in rebounds and three times in assists. Obviously that made it hard to pick one of the two, which leads me to my next question:

If both players continue to play like they are, would either (or both) qualify for an MVP nod? King James says it’s not likely.

James, the winner of the last two MVP awards, told ESPN's Brian Windhorst this week that joining Wade in Miami meant that both players’ chances to win the award “kind of went out the window.”

“I think they classify it as an individual award. They look at it like the less help you have, the more numbers you have then the better chance for you to win that award. I don’t know how you classify the MVP thing – do you classify it as most valuable to his team, if you take that person off his team how do they play? Or is it how is he playing numbers-wise. I don’t know.”

Think about this: Take LeBron out of the picture, the Heat are probably still good. Take Wade out and put LeBron back in and they’re still pretty good. Take both of those guys out and it’s just Chris Bosh – they’re the Toronto Raptors! If those two guys continue to play the way they are, with equally compelling numbers, and the Heat continue to dominate the way they have been since late November, would it be a stretch to think that they might share the title of Most Valuable Player?

It’s far too early to start seriously floating that idea out there, but at the end of the season it might be something to think about.

Other stuff…

Speaking of the Player of the Month awards…did you know that the NBA hands out a Coach of the Month award too?

LA Lakers coach Phil Jackson appeared to call out Kobe Bryant after a lopsided loss to a crappy team on the weekend…but all is good in the City of Angels…

Is Lamar Odom considering a pitch for a reality show with his wife Khloe Kardashian? Unfortunately, yes he is.

If you read one outstanding piece on the latest chapter in the life of Allen Iverson this week, make it this one (it’s long, but well worth it)…

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