j.j. toothman

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Category: Sports

NBA 2015/16

two hundred and fifty-two words spread across a list of 5 random thoughts about the upcoming season of my favorite professional league

  1. Keep an eye on Dallas for the first 6 weeks of the season or so. Their first round pick in the next draft goes to the Celtics unless it’s in the top 7. So, they need to be pretty bad to keep it. So bad that they need to be bad from the beginning. If they come out even lukewarm (ie, close to .500) as a team in the first month-and-a-half then that pick will be landing in Boston.
  2. Carmelo watch. The man can play, but I’ve never bought into Carmelo being the alpha dog on a team that can win the championship. But, Carmelo as the second or even third banana? That fascinates me and thus, I’m crazy intrigued by Carmelo entering the “chase the ring” years of his career. I see that starting around January of this season. Seeing Carmelo playing in Miami, Chicago, or Houston by the end of the season wouldn’t suprise me at all. Boston has the pieces to pull off a Carmelo acquisition, but there’s a big difference between chasing a ring and chasing the playoffs.
  3. Stephen Curry will make 300 three pointers this season. Book it.
  4. Playoffs predictions. OKC beats the Warriors out West. Cavs beat Chicago in the eastern conference finals. OKC takes the title this this year.
  5. Loving that I can root for the Celtics to succeed this year AND simultaneously be on the Ben Simmons lottery pick watch with the Mavs/Nets picks. Must see college games this season are the two LSU vs. Kentucky games.

Collapse 2011: Prelude

Before 2004, being a Red Sox meant expecting the worst possible outcome for your team. And even when you were expecting, the manner of the outcome still managed to exceed what’s in the darkest recesses of your mind and annihilate your spirit. The Bucky Dent home run. Game 6 of the 86 worlds series.  Grady Little in 2003.

1978 one game playoff - Bucky Dent

Then Dave Roberts stole a base in the ninth inning of game 4 of the 2004 ALCS.  And that was the moment when everything flipped.  Immediately, bounces stared going our way. Umpires reversed calls in our favor.  The 2004 Boston Red Sox never lost a game after Dave Roberts steals that base.  It was the beginning of an amazing era in Red Sox history and being a Red Sox fan.

Dave Roberts steals second

Suddenly, the team was an annual winner.  Organizationally, they did things you always hoped for.  Like develop young players.  They spent tons of money and outbid other teams for free agents you wanted.  Fenway Park was turned into this perfect cathedral of baseball.  Packed every night with overjoyed people.  They had lots of likable players.  They had a likable manager.  We had a general manager who hung out with Pearl Jam.  A second championship came in 2007.  It was a time of bliss for fans of the Boston Red Sox.

The 2011 team was absolutely stacked. There was no reason to think that competing for another world series championship was realistic. I started telling anyone who would listen that the team was so complete that it would not only win 100 games, but the Sox would also challenge the single season record for most wins.  They got off to a horrible 2-10 start.  But even then, I never worried.  I figured it was just a matter of time before they figured things out and started winning.  And I was right.  After that 2-10 start they were the best team in baseball.

Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez

Until September came.

I’m not exactly when the Red Sox ship reversed course.  It seems like it was Hurricane Irene.  When September came, they were no longer that stacked team that would win the whole thing.  They were something else.  What they were didn’t reveal itself right away.  Instead, it was reveal slowly over a month of disastrous baseball.  They were the worst team in baseball in September.  They became the worst team I’ve ever watch play the game.

And on the 28th day of September, they played game 162.

David Ortiz in the dugout after game 162


The Collapse of the 2011 Boston Red Sox

It’s going to take me a few days to write a post about the #redsox game 162 and the 2011 collapse. Lots of thoughts to pull together.Thu Sep 29 20:51:39 via TweetDeck


That’s what I tweeted on September 29, 2011.  The day after the Red Sox lost game 162 in Baltimore and eliminated themselves from this year’s playoffs.  It’s actually taken me longer than I thought because the collapse with my beloved Sox wasn’t just on the field, it was throughout the organization. And the fallout keeps coming.  First, the manager quits1Then the GM walks away.

It’s a lot to take in. And everyday, us Sox fans learn a little bit more. None of it good.

All of this has been filling my mind with thoughts.  I want to rant.  I want to analyze.  I want to cleanse.

And it’s going to take some time.  What I first thought was a lengthy post is now probably a 3 or 4 parter.  There’s THAT much ground to cover .

  1. Or gets fired, depending on who  you ask 

Lakers vs. Celtics

There’s no way for me to avoid watching the NBA finals that start tonight and flashback to my 80’s youth and watching all the memorable games between the Lakers and Celtics.  And of course the rivalry between Magic Johnson and Larry Bird.


magic and bird

In fact, I’ve been rooting for Lakers – Celtics final this year for the sole reason that it means a ton of highlight of those games from the 80s.  We’ll be saturated with the obvious ones – Magic’s baby hook, McChale’s clothesline of Rambis, the Heat Game in the Boston Garden – but I’m also anticipaitng to see glimpses of Worthy’s tomahawk dunks, Chief’s rainbow jumpers.

But let’s not kid ourselves and think that this year’s final will emulate those great games of the 80s.  First of all, the teams aren’t nearly as good.  Kobe and KG are greatness.  Gasol, Pierce, Allen, and a few others on the current teams have careers to be proud of.  But those 80s Lakers and Celtics teams were just STACKED.  How many hall of famers passed through that rivalry?  Plenty.  Bob McAdoo was a hall of famer on the Lakers who didn’t even start!  Same with Bill Walton on the Celtics.  Get past the star studded cast of Kareem, Magic, Bird, Parish, Worth, and McChale.  The support players on todays teams don’t hold a candle to the role players on the Lakers and Celtics of the 80s – guys like Dennis Johnson and Jamaal Wilkes.

Anyway, if you want to see the greatness that passed though that rivalry in the 80 check out the boxscore of every game that Larry Bird and Magic Johnson played against each other.  There should be a DVD box set that has all 38 of these games. 

As for who I’m pulling for this year, it would be the Celtics.  I’ve always gravitated towards players, not teams, in the NBA.  For whatever reason, the abilities and styles of the individuals is what drew my attention.  This is unlike other sports that I follow, where team accomplishments in college basketball and baseball are what I admire.  In the 80’s I was a Magic Johnson fan.  In the 90s, it was Tim Hardaway and Hakeem Olajuwon.  This decade, its Kevin Garnett who I admire.  Go Celtics.

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