CELTICS PLAYING WISE, TOUGH; GREEN AUTO RACING

June 1, 2010

Ron Borges, of the Boston Herald, called   for the Celtics to manhandle Howard in the last series. Now he’s talking tough again.

“One of my Herald colleagues said Dwight Howard was looking for me Friday night after the Celtics eliminated his Orlando Magic from the NBA playoffs,
96-84 I was in the winners’ locker room. He wasn’t there.
Thursday, when the NBA Finals begin in Los Angeles, I’ll be looking for him. He won’t be there, either.
Both circumstances are because the Celtics did against his team the same things they did against LeBron James and the Cavaliers. They played harder longer and they played more consistently intelligent basketball than the younger, faster, more highly regarded teams the wise guys in Las Vegas said were supposed to beat them.
For all Howard’s elbow-swinging, rim-bending intimidation, in the end none of that mattered, and it was Howard who gave the best explanation why.
“Next year, we’ve got to have guys that are willing to give everything they’ve got to get wins,” he said after the defending Eastern Conference champs lost that title to the Celts. “In games like this, or a series like this, it’s not about skill or talent because it’s the Eastern Conference championship. Both teams are talented and skilled. It’s about who wants it the most and who is willing to do it for a series.
“Those guys played like they wanted to win the championship the whole series. That’s why they’re in the position that they’re in now.
“There’s no need to kick ourselves. We went down because we didn’t play as hard as we could. That’s what you have to look at it as. You have to play as
hard as you can for as long as you can and everybody didn’t do that
“Once you don’t do it, you find yourself in a big hole, like we did. Once you’re playing a good team like Boston, who had an up-and-down season but turned
it on in the playoffs, once you’re playing a team that’s hot like that, you can’t do that.”
Why would anyone think for a minute they could? Because they believed their press clippings? Because they listened to talk radio? Because they watched the hype that has become ESPN? Or was it simply because they forgot whom they were playing?
For all their problems this season, when healthy the Celtics were nearly unbeatable in the NBA. Through mid-December the talk was whether they’d have homecourt throughout the playoffs, not would they get past the second round of the playoffs.
Then injuries and other misfortunes hit, and they began to look like what many in the NBA hoped they were. They began to look old and soft, like a
once-proud boxer at the end of a distinguished career.
People began to think they were vulnerable when in fact they were growing healthy – or at least as healthy as a team can be this time of year – and as the
Magic just learned, when healthy the Celtics are a menacing monolith in green for all the reasons Howard enumerated.
In the playoffs, they will most often play harder than you and smarter than you and more consistently than you. They will not make many of the mistakes of youth because, as Doc Rivers is fond of saying, “We’re old.”
They are but they are not aged. Nor, more importantly, are they decrepit In life, old can mean shot or it can mean wise. Ask the Cavs and Magic what old
meant to the Celtics who just eliminated them, and they won’t say decrepit.
A measure of what they are was apparent the morning after the Celtics were slapped around in Game 5. Orlando had obliterated them to win its second
straight, sending Celts fans into a frenzy of fretting.
Back in Orlando, Fla., where the Celtics remained after that loss, no one was fretting. They were steaming as Rivers took them through a course in
comparative film. It was not French film vs. Hollywood or the Italian Western against the American variety.
It was the Celtics of Games 1-3 vs. the Celtics of Games 4 and 5. It was not a pleasant day at the movies, but Rivers, being wise beyond his years, knew
when to cut it off.
“It started after the loss to Orlando,” Celtics swingman Tony Allen said. “Guys thought it was going to be a long film session. It started off rough. Doc had a
grueling film session and it was funny, well not funny, but it kind of surprised me that he stopped the film session and just told us, ‘Guys, we don’t even need to watch film. We just gotta go out there and play hard.’
“I think guys remembered that we don’t need to look at no film with this team. All we got to do is play hard, and we played hard and executed our stuff.”
That is really how they executed the Magic, too. The hard way.”

Syndicated columnist, Norman Chad wrote about the fuel usage in “around-the-oval madness” of NASCAR.

“On Sunday, they ran the Error! Hyperlink reference not valid. and the Error! Hyperlink reference not valid.. That’s about 1,100 unnecessary miles of tire
treads wearing thin.
My friends, auto racing is a road to nowhere.
NASCAR is so last century.
Ten years into a new millennium, it’s time to put the exhaust pipes into an antique shop. It’s time we engage in a new age of enlightenment, recognize auto racing as obsolete and end the around-the-oval madness.
At the risk of being tossed out of the sports fraternity — Who am I kidding? I was tossed out years ago; why do you think I sit at home alone watching the
passing parade? — let me suggest that, rather than continuing to be obsessed with “higher, faster, stronger,” we set our sights on smarter, kinder, better.
(I often look back on thriving ancient civilizations as a guidepost to proper living. And in 4th century B.C. China, you never heard. “Gentlemen, start your rickshaws.”)
NASCAR has the carbon footprint of a brontosaurus.
This whole business of maintaining an industry on wasteful, reckless behavior — we’re talking technology not to build a better mousetrap but to simply create a faster racecar — should be tossed into the junkyard.
(I realize some of you are saying, “You think auto racing is irrelevant? Aren’t you the guy who broadcasts poker on TV?” Granted, poker is not helping solve the world’s problems, but it isn’t creating a hole in the ozone layer and it keeps college kids from studying too much.)
This year, NASCAR decided to let its drivers race even more roughhouse to give fans more bang — and banging — for their buck. Robin Pemberton,
NASCAR’s vice president of competition, said they wanted to put racing “back in the hands of the drivers, and we will say, ‘Boys, have at it.’ ”
Boys, have at it?
That’s like the National Rifle Association asking gun owners to be a little more trigger-happy.
Surely, the unruly behavior on the track translates to more aggressive driving on the roads. We’re an imitative culture. Heck, if Danica Patrick started applying makeup on Turn 4 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday, there’d be a Revlon revolution on our interstates by Monday.
But the road rage NASCAR encourages is not nearly as indicting as the damage NASCAR wreaks on the planet.
If the Exxon Valdez was an environmental assassin, auto racing’s a serial killer.
Forget “Drill Baby Drill.” How about “Still Baby Still”?
Auto racing wastes hundreds of thousands of gallons of precious fossil fuel and adds tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, contributing to global warming.
(Yeah, I know — global warming doesn’t exist. Then why do I wake up in a cold sweat every night in the dead of winter?)
And what do thousands of fans drive to a NASCAR race? Gas-thirsty RVs. This is like eating hot dogs before a hot dog-eating contest.
NASCAR cars average about five miles per gallon. Even an armored Humvee gets eight on the highways. (To really waste fuel, why don’t we race airplanes?)
In 1974, the Daytona 500 was actually the Daytona 450 — NASCAR cut its races that year by 10 percent in response to the energy crisis. But that was a
public-relations gesture rather than a substantive solution.
It’s time to put it in park.
In the interest of the greening of America, we should replace stock car races with three-legged races. This kills two sparkplugs with one stone: It’s better for the environment and physical fitness.
Besides, I think everyone should walk to work.
Ask The Slouch

Q. If they get bad weather for the New York-New Jersey Super Bowl, will this be the end of the world as we know it? (David Henderson; Columbia, S.C.)
A. Actually, Mel Kiper Jr. already has released his preliminary forecast for the 2014 Super Bowl: High of 38 degrees, 20 percent chance of snow.

Q. Did you see Venus Williams’s semi-see-through, burlesque-and-bedroom-eyes dress at the French Open? Where do they draw the line these days?
(Stan J. Reisler; Chicago)
A. I wore that exact same outfit to Ethan Shapiro’s bar mitzvah last year and no one said a word.

Q. Are you rooting for the Lakers or the Celtics? (Brian Wells; Dublin, Ohio)
A. The last time I rooted for the Celtics, they were trying to hold off the Saxon invasion.

Q. I noticed that MLB scheduled both the Nationals and the Orioles to be on the road Memorial Day weekend. Didn’t that leave a few hundred people in the
Washington-
Baltimore area with nothing to do? (Steve Shedlin; North Potomac)
A. D.C. United was at home.

Q. Ancient Roman leaders used to frequently change the length of a calendar year to accommodate the needs of their empire. Should Congress be given the
power to lengthen our calendar year, so as to accommodate the NBA and NHL playoff schedules? (Tom Gilson; Lomira, Wis.)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.

You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. E-mail asktheslouch@aol.com and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!

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