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clips from SI
Something's wrong with Pitino and the Celtics
By Dave D'Alessandro - The Sporting News
I caught Rick Pitino's rant last week, which was alternately pitiable and
pitiful. It almost seemed like
inside of him flared and died, like a star going into nova, and you couldn't
help but wonder whether this was a
who has lost his perspective, his composure, his grip on reality and, perhaps,
It's one thing to say that he never would have left Kentucky had he known that
the Celtics weren't getting
Duncan in the draft -- which he's done three times now -- and I don't even mind
him whining about how he has
watch the bottom line more than most CEOs in his business, because that is true.
But Rick's puerile thesis about how this Boston team is mistreated by the fans
and media is going to buy
neither time nor sympathy. Victories are elusive enough. Mutual understanding is
now difficult, however,
the guy sounds bats.
The two games leading into his bitter soliloquy crystallized Pitino's agony,
while leading his audience to
that his team is without hope.
One night, the Celtics blew a 20-point lead in the third period and lost by
eight to Dallas. Two nights later,
Carter tore Pitino's heart out at the buzzer. In both, the FleetCenter crowd
morphed into an army of
leprechauns holding their noses and shouting insults.
That was too much for Rick, and if you missed it, here's the unexpurgated
"You're the people being negative," he told the media. "And some of the fans.
Larry Bird is not walking
that door. Kevin McHale's not walking through that door. Robert Parish is not
walking through that door. And
you expect them to walk through the door, they're going to be gray and old. What
we are is young,
hard-working and we're going to improve. People don't realize that, and as soon
as they realize those three guys
not coming through that door, the better this town will be for all of us because
there are young guys in that
room playing their asses off.
"I wish we had $90 million under the salary cap. I wish we could buy the world.
We can't. The only thing we can
is work hard. And all this negativity that's in this room sucks.
"I've been around when Jim Rice was booed. I've been around when Yastrzemski was
booed and it stinks. It
the greatest city in the world lousy. The only thing that will turn this around
is being upbeat and positive like
are in that locker room . . . And if you think I'm going to succumb to
negativity, you're wrong. You've got the
guy leading this team."
So help us, he went on like this for 10 or 15 minutes, like some Middle Ages
transubstantiation. Religious times we live in, even without the religion.
Anyway, just to make sure everyone understood that he was in earnest, he went
off again after practice the
"Understand this, I'm not blaming any fans. I'm not at all doing that. What I'm
telling you is you have two
with a young basketball team -- and this is what we are. Get upbeat and
positive, help us win, cheer some
self-esteem up. Or go the other way and watch them tank every shot. That's what
I'm telling you.
"Look, we have great fans because they're showing up. In 50 percent of these
arenas, they're not showing up.
we've got great fans along those lines, but as I said in my statement, Bird,
McHale and Parish, Cousy and
are not walking through those doors. What is walking through those doors are
young players who are going to
prone to mistakes at times until they get experience, who are going to play hard
and try to play exciting
--- and not always succeed at doing that.
"This is what we are, and that's it. So you have two choices. You can get upbeat
and positive for the future, or
can get negative. And I'm saying getting negative and being frustrated is not
the best solution. Being positive
upbeat and having hope for the future is the best."
Now I get it: He's selling the boolah-boolah for the ol' Eli approach.
I'd be more understanding if this were a college program, if there was some
indication of progress, or even if
would stop trying to sell his team like a new car that won't be broken in until
50,000 miles are on the odometer.
hard to accept his argument that our lack of understanding is making their
growing pains more acute,
because these are professionals he's talking about, and they're paid to handle
criticism as long as it's fair.
Do I have to go through it again? Fine: Pitino overpaid Walker ($71 million). He
overpaid Travis Knight
Chris Mills ($36M), Vitaly Potapenko ($33M), Eric Williams ($26M) and then
complained he didn't have enough
overpay Mercer and Danny Fortson. He overpaid himself ($50M, 10 years). He even
overpaid his 12th man,
McCarty ($8M). He turned the roster over twice in three years. He gave the
impression that he was
something while all he was doing was dismantling it.
It almost makes you wonder what's keeping Walker, Mercer and Chauncey Billups
from holding a press
of their own, to complain that they left college early because they were under
the impression that Red
would be running the Celtics when they arrived in Boston.
Make no mistake: Pitino is a very great coach, one of the best in the business.
But as an executive, he has failed
Celtics far more than all those negative forces he has chosen to pin the blame
on. The day he is willing to admit
may be the first one in which he'll recover his credibility.
Sorry if that sounds negative. It happens to be the truth.