Tag Archives: Gethin Coolbaugh

Coolbaugh: Gilbert’s rant is childish, hypocritical

Dan Gilbert, the owner of the Cleveand Cavaliers, sent out a letter to fans ripping LeBron James for leaving Cleveland. Ironically, he was the one responsible for the Cavaliers' demise. (Amy Sancetta/AP Photo)

Dan Gilbert, the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, sent out a letter to fans ripping LeBron James for leaving Cleveland. Ironically, he was the one responsible for the Cavaliers' demise. (Amy Sancetta/AP Photo)

By Gethin Coolbaugh

By now I’m sure you’ve heard that prized free agent LeBron James will be taking his talents to South Beach to play for the Miami Heat.

The news was met with jubilation in Miami and extreme disappointment in Cleveland.

LeBron’s decision was taken especially hard by Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, who wrote a steaming letter to Cleveland fans almost immediately after James’ decision.

Instead of simply showing you the letter, I will post Gilbert’s letter in its entirety in italics and give you my thoughts on each section, which will be written in bold.

Here’s Gilbert’s letter…

Dear Cleveland, All Of Northeast Ohio and Cleveland Cavaliers Supporters Wherever You May Be Tonight;

As you now know, our former hero, who grew up in the very region that he deserted this evening, is no longer a Cleveland Cavalier.

This was announced with a several day, narcissistic, self-promotional build-up culminating with a national TV special of his “decision” unlike anything ever “witnessed” in the history of sports and probably the history of entertainment.

Clearly, this is bitterly disappointing to all of us.

The good news is that the ownership team and the rest of the hard-working, loyal, and driven staff over here at your hometown Cavaliers have not betrayed you nor Never will betray you.

I have no problem with the opening statement, but then Gilbert begins trashing James when he calls his TV spectacle a “several day, narcissistic, self-promotional build-up culminating with a national TV special of his “decision” unlike anything ever “witnessed” in the history of sports and probably the history of entertainment.”

True, James could have handled his announcement in a manner less embarrassing to his hometown Cavaliers, but in the end, it’s a business, and LeBron knows that. Gilbert should too.

And as for the Cavaliers brass never betraying the city of Cleveland, give me a break, Dan. You betrayed them by not doing your job and placing talent with James in order to compete for a title. Mo WIlliams was a start, but a washed up Shaquille O’Neal and Antawn Jamison were not good enough to bring the Larry O’Brien trophy to Cleveland. You’re more at fault for this than James is.

There is so much more to tell you about the events of the recent past and our more than exciting future.

Over the next several days and weeks, we will be communicating much of that to you.

Exciting future, eh? Like what…? Last time I checked, all of the big name free agents are off the market. You’re telling me that you’re going to build a title team with the likes of Richard Jefferson?

You simply don’t deserve this kind of cowardly betrayal.

You have given so much and deserve so much more.

Yes, Cavs fans don’t deserve this, and they have given their soul and ten times more to LeBron. But again, it’s a business. If you don’t create an environment in which a player can win, don’t expect them to come home under the same conditions. If you really wanted to keep James, maybe you should have made it a priority to bring in a big name free agent before the King made his decision. It worked for the Heat. And again, Mo isn’t cutting it.

In the meantime, I want to make one statement to you tonight:

“I PERSONALLY GUARANTEE THAT THE CLEVELAND CAVALIERS WILL WIN AN NBA CHAMPIONSHIP BEFORE THE SELF-TITLED FORMER ‘KING’ WINS ONE”

You can take it to the bank.

When I first read this, it made me think that a fourth grader was writing this letter. I mean, come on. All caps?

And on what grounds do you guarantee that you’ll win a title before LeBron does? You don’t seem committed to bringing in another star player to take the place of James. And if you couldn’t win with James, what on earth makes you think that you can win without him? Common sense tells you that LeBron has about a much better shot of winning a ring first.

If you thought we were motivated before tonight to bring the hardware to Cleveland, I can tell you that this shameful display of selfishness and betrayal by one of our very own has shifted our “motivation” to previously unknown and previously never experienced levels.

That’s nice, Dan. You want to win a title. That’s what most executives and players want. So did LeBron, and that’s why he left.

Previously unknown and previously never expected levels? I didn’t know that you could just pull motivation out of a hat. You should have tried it when LeBron was there. Oops, too late.

Some people think they should go to heaven but NOT have to die to get there.

Sorry, but that’s simply not how it works.

So…you want LeBron to die?

This shocking act of disloyalty from our home grown “chosen one” sends the exact opposite lesson of what we would want our children to learn. And “who” we would want them to grow-up to become.

But the good news is that this heartless and callous action can only serve as the antidote to the so-called “curse” on Cleveland, Ohio.

The self-declared former “King” will be taking the “curse” with him down south.

No…Quicken Loans Arena is staying in Cleveland.

And until he does “right” by Cleveland and Ohio, James (and the town where he plays) will unfortunately own this dreaded spell and bad karma.

Just watch.

No thanks, I’d rather watch a good basketball team. Like that team in Miami. Did you know that they just got three superstars? It’s going to be fun to watch. You should give it a shot!

Sleep well, Cleveland.

Tomorrow is a new and much brighter day….

Yeah, with Delonte West as the new face of the franchise.

I PROMISE you that our energy, focus, capital, knowledge and experience will be directed at one thing and one thing only:

DELIVERING YOU the championship you have long deserved and is long overdue….

I highly doubt it. If you weren’t willing to spend time and money to bring in talent then, why would you do it now? Better start looking through Chad Ford’s top 10 prospects in the 2011-2020 NBA draft, because that’s about where you’ll be picking for a while.

Gethin Coolbaugh is the Associate Editor of Boston Sports U18. He can be reached at 774-279-1995 or at gethin.coolbaugh@bostonsportsu18.com. You can also visit Gethin Coolbaugh’s official website and follow Gethin Coolbaugh on Twitter.

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Coolbaugh: While the super team is assembled, don’t crown the Miami Heat NBA champions just yet

Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh and LeBron James (from left to right) will all sign with the Miami Heat, creating the league's newest super team.

Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh and LeBron James (from left to right) will all sign with the Miami Heat, creating the league's newest super team.

By Gethin Coolbaugh

When LeBron James announced that he would be bringing his talent to South Beach, he completed the super team that is the Miami Heat.

James joins incumbent superstar Dwayne Wade and fellow free agent prize Chris Bosh as the newest members of the Miami Heat.

In doing so, he left the only team he has ever known.

Now that the LeBron, the last big name free agent, is off the market, teams can begin building around their core players.

And of all 30 teams, the Heat have the most work to do. But make no mistake, landing James, Wade and Bosh is no small task.

In fact, Miami’s pickup of the new Big Three puts a cap on the greatest free agent period for any team in league history.

But before you go hailing the Heat as champions next season and beyond, take a minute to remember what James said just after making his highly anticipated announcement.

“A team is not built on three superstars,” James said. ”You don’t become a champion as an individual, you become champions as a team.”

As of now, the Heat have four players scheduled to be on payroll for the 2010-2011 season. That is, the Big Three and point guard Mario Chalmers.

And last time I checked, team’s need five players on the court.

After doling out close to maximum contracts to James, Wade and Bosh, the Heat will be left with an estimated $1.5 million in cap space.

That’s not enough to bring in any proven veteran reserves, let alone middle of the road talent.

That being the case, the Heat will only be able to sign draft picks and bottom-of-the-barrel players, barring a sign-and-trade deal.

We will not be able to effectively predict how Miami will fair in the upcoming season until Pat Riley and the Heat brass fill out the roster.

Once that time comes, we can make our picks for the 2010-11 Finals.

Gethin Coolbaugh is the Associate Editor of Boston Sports U18. He can be reached at 774-279-1995 or at gethin.coolbaugh@bostonsportsu18.com. You can also visit Gethin Coolbaugh’s official website and follow Gethin Coolbaugh on Twitter.

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Coolbaugh: What do ESPN and the CW have in common?

ESPN, the Worldwide Leader in Sports, has become a lot more like the CW in recent years.

ESPN, the Worldwide Leader in Sports, has become a lot more like the CW in recent years.

By Gethin Coolbaugh

Humor me for a second.

Go grab your TV guide, flip through it and take a look at the listings for both the CW and ESPN.

The CW features shows like Gossip Girl, 90210 and America’s Next Top Model.

As for ESPN, it airs shows such as Sportscenter, Around the Horn, PTI and Baseball Tonight.

At first glance, they seem like they broadcast completely different content, and for they most part, they do.

But believe it or not, ESPN and many sports media outlets alike have started to air content similar to that seen on Gossip Girl.

The main word to take from that sentence is gossip.

In short, the sports media world has become way too source happy.

This has most recently been highlighted by the LeBron James free agency saga. Last night as I hopped into bed, I received a text message from ESPN saying that “sources” of NBA insider Chris Broussard told him that, barring a late change, James would sign with the Miami Heat.

I have no problem with reporters relaying information they obtain, seeing as it’s their job. But when you throw sources around, you’re opening up a can of worms.

For all we know, Broussard’s source could be his cousin who happens to be a season ticket holder of the Miami Heat.

It’s the same for any reporter in any sport. Peter Gammons’ source within the Red Sox could be a janitor, Mel Kiper Jr.’s could be a substitute gym teacher at USC, and Chris Berman’s might as well be a ticket-taker at Cowboys Stadium.

Again, I’m not trashing any of these reporters. They are all great in their own right, no doubt. However, we just don’t know who their sources are, plain and simple.

And more likely than not, we’ll never find out their sources.

In the sports reporting game, the link between a source and a reporter is extremely confidential. These sources can be anyone within the front offices of the nation’s biggest sports franchises.

And if their bosses found out that they’re leaking information to trusted reporters, they’ll likely lose their jobs.

On the other side, if reporters start leaking their sources, it will close the door on an entire avenue of news that may cost a reporter his or her job in the long run.

I’m not asking reporters to leak their sources, because that’s not going to happen. But I am asking all of you to consider where these reports are coming from.

For example, I would trust a report from Peter Gammons sources that the Red Sox are going to trade David Ortiz more than I would from a reporter from a small-town paper in a Boston suburb.

Gammons has been playing the source game for a lot longer than most reporters, so he has most likely developed high quality sources.

And as for Chris Broussard’s report about James, I’m inclined to believe it because he is a 20-year veteran reporter.

Nevertheless, keep in mind that we all need to be aware of the quality of any reporter’s sources.

Gethin Coolbaugh is the Associate Editor of Boston Sports U18. He can be reached at 774-279-1995 or at gethin.coolbaugh@bostonsportsu18.com. You can also visit Gethin Coolbaugh’s official website and follow Gethin Coolbaugh on Twitter.

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Coolbaugh: Bol a special blessing to NBA, world

Former NBA center and humanitarian Manute Bol passed away at age 47 on Saturday. Bol was a true sports hero in ever sense of the word. (AP Photo)

Former NBA center and humanitarian Manute Bol passed away at age 47 on Saturday. Bol was a true sports hero in ever sense of the word. (AP Photo)

By Gethin Coolbaugh

We all grew up idolizing athletes.

From Ted Williams and Johnny Damon to Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, generations of sports fans have idolized sports’ brightest stars ever since their childhood.

But there was one athlete who made all the accomplishments of Williams, Damon, Jordan and Bryant seem like nothing.

That man was Manute Bol.

Bol, who passed away at the age of 47 at the University of Virginia Hospital in Charlottesville on Saturday after a battle with kidney disease and a painful skin condition, played 10 seasons in the NBA and was revered as one of the league’s best shot blockers.

Standing a towering 7′ 6″ tall, Bol was the tallest player ever to play in the NBA until Gheorghe Muresan (7′ 7″) made his debut in 1993. In 624 games, Bol averaged 3.3 blocks per game and amassed 2,086 career blocks.

He was drafted by the Washington Bullets in 1985 at the age of 23 and averaged an unprecedented five blocks per game in his rookie campaign.

Bol only averaged 18.7 minutes and 2.6 points in his career. With 1,599 points, Bol retired as the only player in league history to have more blocks than points.

In eight out of ten seasons, Bol led the league in block percentage. When he retired in 1995, he had a career block percentage of 10.2%, which remains the best career percentage in league history.

But Bol’s impact stemmed far beyond the basketball court. In fact, his time in the NBA was almost irrelevant.

Throughout his career, Bol was a well-known humanitarian and activist that aided his native Sudan.

Born on October 16, 1962 in Turalie or Gogrial in Sudan, Bol was the son of a Dinka tribal chief and was a slave for three years from age nine. His father bestowed him with the name Manute, which means “special blessing.”

During his 10 years in the NBA, Bol made an estimated $5,887,500 according to Basketball-Reference.com.

Of that money, Bol donated most of his career earnings to the Ring True Foundation, which is a charity that Bol founded to raise funds for Sudanese refugees.

Bol often visited refugee camps in Sudan and was even offered the position of minister of sport in Sudan in 2001. A devout Christian, he turned down the position because it required a conversion to Islam.

Bol was eventually restricted from leaving Sudan after he was accused of supporting the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, who were Christian rebels led by the Dinkas.

The government demanded that he provide them more money, or else they would not grant him a visa. A combination of American supporters and Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman helped Bol raise enough money to provide him with plane tickets to Cairo.

Manute Bol is seen here playing for the Washington Bullets.

Manute Bol was drafted by Washington in 1985 and played for the Bullets for four seasons.

Following a half-year negotiation between U.S. consulate members and the Sudanese government regarding Bol’s refugee status, he was allowed to return to the United States along with his family.

Upon his return, Bol took part in several celebrity events in order to raise money for his charities.

In 2002, Bol made a deal with FOX to broadcast the telephone number for the Ring True Foundation if he would appear on a celebrity boxing show.

Prior to the match, the referee told Bol that “if you guys don’t box, you won’t get paid.”

With that in mind, Bol defeated former NFL star William Perry in three rounds.

Later that year, Bol signed a one-day contract with the Indianapolis Ice of the Central Hockey League.

While Bol couldn’t skate, the hype created by the event helped raise money for Sudanese children.

Bol was also an intricate part of the Sudan Freedom Walk in April of 2006 where supporters marched from the United Nations headquarters in New York to Washington, D.C. over a three-week period. The walk, which was organized by Bol’s lifelong friend and Sudanese swimming champion Simon Deng, was mainly held in effort to stop the genocide in Darfur.

While in Cairo, Bol started a basketball school where he taught a fellow Sudanese refugee named Luol Deng, who currently plays for the Chicago Bulls.

The list of Bol’s selfless acts could be turned into a book.

While we often idolize players like Albert Pujols or Tiger Woods who excel in the world of sports, we don’t often remember those who dedicated their lives to the betterment of society.

After all, we have to remember that professional sports are nothing more than a glorified game.

The accomplishments of the likes of Pujols or Woods are incredible in their own right, but they aren’t  helping our fellow humans in need.

Sure, they can write a big check, which absolutely does help charities worldwide, but very few of them would give up their superstar status to return to their troubled homeland to make a difference.

That is what made Bol special. He played basketball to help others, not to help himself. He’s a true hero in the world of sports.

So the next time your kids come up to you and say that a certain athlete is their hero, remind them of what being a hero really means.

Remind them of Manute Bol.

Gethin Coolbaugh is the Associate Editor of Boston Sports U18. He can be reached at 774-279-1995 or at gethin.coolbaugh@bostonsportsu18.com. You can also visit Gethin Coolbaugh’s official website and follow Gethin Coolbaugh on Twitter.

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Coolbaugh: Poor fan reaction to Manny’s return

Former Red Sox legend Manny Ramirez made his return to Fenway Park as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday night. The fan reaction, however, was not one of reverence. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Former Red Sox left fielder Manny Ramirez made his return to Fenway Park as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday night. The fan reaction, however, was not one of reverence. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

By Gethin Coolbaugh

When Nomar Garciaparra made his much-anticipated return to Fenway Park as a member of the Oakland Athletics, he was given a heartwarming ovation.

But when Manny Ramirez made his return to America’s Most Beloved Ballpark as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday night, he was served a smattering of cheers and boos.

What gives Red Sox Nation?

Ramirez, who went 1-for-5 with a run and two strikeouts in his return to Fenway Park in Boston’s 10-6 victory, contributed far more to the Red Sox than Garciaparra did.

The least Boston fans could do was offer Ramirez a return for the ages.

In eight seasons with the Red Sox from 2001-2008, Ramirez played in 1,083 games, hit 274 home runs, drove in 868 runs and had a batting average of .312.

More importantly, he was an intricate part of the 2004 and 2007 World Series championship teams.

Ramirez was 7-for-17 with one home run, four RBI and a .412 batting average in four games against the Cardinals in the 2004 World Series and was named the World Series MVP.

In Boston’s magical postseason run that year, Ramirez was a combined 21-for-60 for a .350 batting average and had two home runs and seven RBI in 14 games.

Manny was less of a factor in the 2007 World Series, but he wasn’t a no-show. Ramirez went 4-for-16 with two RBI and a .250 batting average in Boston’s four-game sweep of the Colorado Rockies.

But to find Manny’s real impact on this team, you’d have to look at his regular season numbers.

During his time in a Red Sox uniform, Ramirez was considered one of the greatest right-handed hitters in the game.

Manny burst onto the Fenway scene in 2001, his inaugural season in Boston, hitting 41 long balls while driving in 125 runs. His batting average/OBP/SLG/OPS that year? .306/.405/.609/1.014.

Between 2001 and 2006, Ramirez never hit less than 33 home runs, drove in less than 102 runs or hit for less than a .292 average.

His regular season numbers in Boston were dynamic, and you could count on close to the same year in and year out. That’s more than you can say about 95% of the hitters in the league today.

But not only was Manny a tremendous producer in Boston, he was a lovable character. Ramirez was the joker in the clubhouse and he always had fun playing the game he loved.

Management might not have appreciated his demeanor in his later years with the team, including the infamous sign he held in the dugout during a game that read “I’m going to Green Bay for Favre Straight Up!”

It was simply Manny being Manny.

And in the end, it was bearable because of what Ramirez did for this city on the field.

So to the fans at Fenway Park on Friday night that gave Manny a halfhearted cheer, or even booed him, what on Earth were you thinking?

Would you boo Ted Williams? Carl Yastrzemski? Bobby Orr? Larry Bird or Bill Russell?

Manny Ramirez embraced former teammate David Ortiz before Friday night's game. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Manny Ramirez embraced former teammate David Ortiz before Friday night's game. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Ramirez was a major part of breaking the infamous 86 year Curse of the Bambino.

To be fair, he was not the only reason the Red Sox won World Series titles in 2004 and in 2007.

But don’t be mistaken, the Red Sox would not have enjoyed the same success without him.

To have some fans outright boo Ramirez upon his return is downright disrespectful and ignorant.

The main reasons that Boston fans will give for booing Ramirez are his alleged use of steroids and the fact that he essentially punched his own ticket out of town.

It may very well be true that Ramirez used performance enhancing drugs, and it was proven that he used a banned substance. That in itself is an offense worthy of booing, but not if fans are going to be two-faced about it.

By the way, Red Sox Nation, you have a steroid user on your roster right now by the name of David Ortiz. Interestingly enough, I don’t see you booing him on a consistent basis.

Ortiz’ offense is no worse than Ramirez’, so if you are going to boo Manny, please boo David too. I do every time I go to a Red Sox game and number 34 steps up to the plate.

And as for Ramirez abandoning the Red Sox, it’s a valid point until you realize that the game of baseball is a business. If a player isn’t happy with a team anymore, he has a right to be disgruntled.

Now, Manny’s action were a bit over the top, and he absolutely could have handled it better seeing that he was still under contract with the team.

Yet in the end, it’s still a business, and these situations are going to occur.

Even with those negatives, Manny’s impact on the Red Sox franchise and the city of Boston clearly outweigh the bad.

And for all of you who booed Ramirez or gave him just a hollow cheer, you should be ashamed.

Gethin Coolbaugh is the Associate Editor of Boston Sports U18. He can be reached at 774-279-1995 or at gethin.coolbaugh@bostonsportsu18.com. You can also visit Gethin Coolbaugh’s official website and follow Gethin Coolbaugh on Twitter.

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Coolbaugh: Best and worst NBA top picks

With the 2010 NBA Draft approaching, that brought up the question: Who are the best and worst first overall picks in NBA history?

With the 2010 NBA Draft approaching, that brought up the question: Who are the best and worst first overall picks in NBA history?

By Gethin Coolbaugh

With the NBA Draft looming less than two weeks away, it’s time to put on our draft hats, schedule draft day parties and start mulling through mock drafts.

What? There’s still basketball being played. You’re kidding me.

Yes, I know that the NBA Finals are still being played, but I can’t help but look ahead to one of the NBA’s most exciting days.

The 2010 NBA Draft, which will be held on Thursday, June 24th at the WaMu Theater inside Madison Square Garden, represents a fresh start for every team.

With the prior season all but a memory, every team is back on the same page with hopes of building for the future and competing for the NBA title.

The hopes and dreams of a select few of the world elite prospects are given the chance of a lifetime to show their stuff at the highest level.

Some fall flat on their face, but others step up and exceed expectation. With that in mind, here are the five best and the worst of the NBA’s first overall draft picks.

TOP FIVE

Kareem Abdul Jabbar was the greatest first overall pick in NBA history for two reasons: his durability and his unforgetable impact on both the Bucks and Lakers.

Kareem Abdul Jabbar was the greatest first overall pick in NBA history for two reasons: his durability and his unforgettable impact on both the Bucks and Lakers.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – Milwaukee Bucks If you’re looking for one reason to justify that Kareem was the greatest first-round picks of all time, just look at it from a general manager’s perspective. Aside from talent, what is the one of the most important aspects to consider when drafting a rookie? Durability. And Abdul-Jabbar is the definition of durability. Drafted at the age of 22 in 1969, Kareem would play for an unprecedented 20 seasons with just two teams. And here’s what puts him ahead of the pack: he won with both. One of the greatest factors in considering who’s who in terms of top draft picks is their value to their team. For instance, I wouldn’t put Shaquille O’Neal on this list because he didn’t make a big impact on the Orlando Magic. But Abdul-Jabbar impacted both teams that he played on and could be considered the greatest player in both the history of the Bucks and Lakers. Kareem won his first championship with the Bucks in 1971 and went on to win five more with the Lakers (1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1988). He played with Milwaukee for six years before joining the Lakers for the remainder of his career (14 years!). A six-time MVP, 19-time All-Star, and two-time Finals MVP, Kareem dominated every minute he was on the court. For career totals, you will find few superior to Kareem. In 20 seasons, he totaled 38,387 points, 17,440 rebounds, 3,189 blocks and 5,660 assists. Kareem played a surreal 57,446 minutes in 1,560 games, 625 of which he started. Need another impressive stat? He had a lifetime field goal percentage of 55.9%. There is so much more that could be said about Kareem, but I might crash the computer if I tried to write it all. If you need anymore proof, check out his career statistics and honors on BasketballReference.com.

If Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the best top pick, then Earvin "Magic" Johnson is unquestionably number two. Johnson's impact on the Lakers, and the game of basketball, is one that will never be forgotten.

If Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the best top pick, then Earvin "Magic" Johnson is unquestionably number two. Johnson's impact on the Lakers, and the game of basketball, is one that will never be forgotten.

Earvin “Magic” Johnson – L.A. Lakers As far as value in a first overall pick, you won’t find anyone outside of Kareem more worthy than Magic (not even James Worthy!). Drafted in 1979 at the age of 21 out of Michigan State, Johnson was unquestionably one of the greatest number-one pick of all-time. In 33,245 minutes spread throughout 906 games, he scored 17,707 points and amassed 10,141 assists, 1,724 steals, 6,559 rebounds and had a career field goal percentage of 52%. He won five NBA championship titles with the Lakers in his 13-year career. During that time frame, he won the league’s Most Valuable Player award three times (1986-87, 1988-89, 1989-90), the Finals MVP award three times and was a 12-time All-Star and won the All-Star game MVP award twice. Johnson is widely considered the greatest Lakers who ever lived (not by me, that honor goes to Kareem!), and is heralded by some as the greatest player of all time. While one could write a novel about all of Johnson’s accomplishments, and many have, I’ll finish with this. If Johnson isn’t the best player in NBA history, you better not have him outside of your top five.

Saying that Magic was a good first pick would be a severe understatement.

Spurs forward Tim DUncan (left) and center David Robinson were as good as any championship duo that ever played the game.

Spurs forward Tim Duncan (left) and center David Robinson were as good as any championship duo that ever played the game.

David Robinson/Tim Duncan – San Antonio Spurs I can think of few better duos than the Admiral and The Big Fundamental. Robinson and Duncan are as fine a pair as they come. Robinson, drafted number one overall at the age of 24 in 1987 out of the United States Naval Academy, played 14 NBA seasons all with the Spurs. In 987 games and 34,271 minutes, Robinson totaled 20,790 points, 10,497 rebounds and 2,954 blocks. For a big man, Robinson was a decent free throw shooter, making 7,365-of-14,221 shots from the charity stride. Robinson was a two-time champion, a one-time MVP and was honored as the NBA’s rookie of the year in 1989-90 and the Defensive Player of the Year in 1991-92. As for Duncan, who was drafted first overall at age of 21 in 1997 out of Wake Forest University, has had an equally great career. In his rookie season in ’97, Duncan started all 82 games and averaged 21.1 points, 11.9 rebounds and 2.5 blocks, earning him the NBA’s Rookie of the Year Award. Through 13 seasons, Duncan has 20,641 points, 11,335 rebounds, 2,235 blocks and a lifetime field goal percentage of 50.8%. He was the Finals MVP in 1999 and again in 2002-03 and 2004-05. In addition, he is a two-time NBA MVP wand was the MVP of the 1999-00 All-Star game. Together, Robinson and Duncan were a force that could not be stopped. The only duo that rivaled them in that period was that of Shaq and Kobe Bryant. But even they weren’t as forceful in the paint. Any team would kill to have players like Robinson and Duncan roaming underneath the basket. Sadly, a pair like that only comes around once in a lifetime.

Although New York center Patrick Ewing never won an NBA title, he helped transform the Knicks into one of the league's premier franchises.

Although New York center Patrick Ewing never won an NBA title, he helped transform the Knicks into one of the league's premier franchises.

Patrick Ewing – New York Knicks To this day, when someone mentions Knicks basketball, the first name that pops into my mind is legendary center Patrick Ewing. And it should be that way for every NBA fan. After he was drafted at age 23 in 1985 out of Georgetown university, Ewing quickly became a household name in the Big Apple and the basketball universe. He won the Rookie of the Year award in 1985-86, averaging 20.3 points, 9.3 rebounds and 2.1 blocks in 50 games. By the time he retired in the 2001-02 as a member of the Orlando Magic, Ewing had amassed 24,815 points, 11,607 rebounds, 2,894 blocks and a career field goal percentage of 50.4%. While Ewing never won the Knicks an NBA title, he turned them into one of the league’s most respected franchise. Even though New York has had its struggles this past decade, the Big Apple is still considered the Mecca of basketball, and this is due in part to Ewing’s career achievements. Ewing was an 11-time All-Star and was named to the All-NBA first team once, the second team six times and was named to the All-Defensive second team three times. If New York is able to lure in several high-profile free agents, such as LeBron James, Dwayne Wade or Chris Bosh, Knicks fans can thank Ewing for turning the Big Apple into a desirable basketball destination.

Cleveland forward LeBron James will go down as the greatest Cavalier in franchise history, whether he signs with the team or not.

Cleveland forward LeBron James will go down as the greatest Cavalier in franchise history, whether he signs with the team or not.

LeBron James – Cleveland Cavaliers Not only does LeBron make the cut for consideration of the league’s best modern-day player, but he also makes the list of the best first overall picks of all time. James burst into the public eye when he was still in high school, and he already had people hailing him as possibly the best player of all time. His first few seasons in the league did not disappoint, as King james brought home honor after honor. James was the Rookie of the Year in 2003-2004 when he was selected first overall out of St. Vincent-St. Mary’s High School in Akron, Ohio. In his rookie campaign, James averaged 20.9 points, 5.9 assists and 5.5 rebounds in 79 games at the age of 19. His scoring only went up, as he has averaged the following points scored ever since: 27.2 ,31.4, 27.3, 30.0, 28.4 and 29.7. In 2005-06 and 2997-08, James was the MVP of the All-Star game. In total, LeBron has been selected to six All-Star games. He has elevated his game the past two seasons, and the league has taken notice, awarding James the NBA MVP award each of the past two seasons. As far as championships go, LeBron’s count sits at zero. He came close in the 2006-07season when James took the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals but lost to the San Antonio Spurs. James has taken the Cavaliers to the playoffs every season since the ’06-’07 campaign, and has had lengthy runs every year. All the nay-sayers will say that, since LeBron hasn’t won a ring, he can’t be considered one of the best top picks. But again, I bring up the topic of impact. And there has been no one in franchise history that has had a bigger impact than James. Rest assured, James will eventually win a ring with the Cavaliers or another team. But even if his first ring doesn’t come as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers, the state of Ohio will never forget what James meant to that team of the city of Cleveland.

With the five best picks laid out for all to see, I’ll be bringing you the five worst first overall draft picks of all time in the second installment of this story.

For now, enjoy the NBA Finals everyone.

Gethin Coolbaugh is the Associate Editor of Boston Sports U18. He can be reached at 774-279-1995 or at gethin.coolbaugh@bostonsportsu18.com. You can also visit Gethin Coolbaugh’s official website and follow Gethin Coolbaugh on Twitter.

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Coolbaugh: Glorious redemption for Glen Davis

Celtics forward Glen Davis asserted his status as one of the league's best reserves after his 18-point performance in Boston's 96-89 win over the Lakers in Game 4 of the NBA Finals on Thursday night. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Celtics forward Glen Davis asserted his status as one of the league's best reserves after his 18-point performance in Boston's 96-89 win over the Lakers in Game 4 of the NBA Finals on Thursday night. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

By Gethin Coolbaugh

Call him Big Baby, Ticket Stub, Uno Uno, or whatever else you like.

But after last night’s dazzling performance, there’s one thing you can’t call Celtics forward Glen Davis.

A quitter.

Davis scored 18 points and had five rebounds and two steals in 22 and a half minutes to help lead the Celtics to a 96-89 Game 4 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.

It has certainly been a roller-coaster season for Davis to say the least. His season began marred by controversy. Controversy, that he created.

While riding in the car of Shawn Bridgewater, a childhood friend, Davis got into an altercation and threw a punch that resulted in a broken right thumb, and ultimately urgery.

The fight resulted in a suspension from Celtics management, but more importantly, caused Davis to miss Boston’s first 27 games.

“I am extremely disappointed that this incident occurred and that it will prevent me from starting the season with the rest of my teammates,” said Davis. “My teammates and the entire Celtics organization are extremely important to me and I will do my best to expedite the healing process and be back on the court as soon as possible.”

At the time, it looked like Davis was headed down a destructive path. But unlike so many of his peers, Davis smartened up and started acting like he belonged on the roster of the 17-time world champions.

Davis finished the season averaging 6.3 points and 3.8 rebounds in 54 games.

He had his moments throughout the season, scoring in double-digits 13 times and grabbing six or more rebounds 12 times.

But it wasn’t Davis’ regular season performance that redeemed him, but his performance this postseason.

We all remember Davis’ game-winning shot in Chicago in Game 4 of last season’s first round playoff series. Davis started in place of Kevin Garnett in the 2008-09 playoffs and emerged as one of the league’s best reserves.

In 14 postseason games, all of which he started, Davis scored 221 points, had 79 rebounds, 25 assists and 18 steals.

In that timespan, Davis scored less than 10 points only twice and had more than six rebounds seven times.

He scored over 20 points five times and over 12 points six times. In short, Davis was dominant.

Unfortunately, when Kevin Garnett isn’t in the lineup, you’re chances of winning another title are slim to none.

But this postseason had been different, namely because Garnet is healthy and performing on a nightly basis (for the most part, at least).

Glen Davis contests Lakers forward Lamar Odom's shot in Boston's Game 4 win over Los Angeles. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Glen Davis contests Lakers forward Lamar Odom's shot in Boston's Game 4 win over Los Angeles. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Davis’ first big-time game of the 2010 playoffs came in Game 2 of the Celtics opening round series against the Heat. Ironically, it was the game that Davis started following Garnett’s one-game suspension after an altercation with Miami’s Quentin Richardson.

In nearly 30 minutes, Davis scored 23 points and had eight rebounds. He made 7-of-14 field goals and an even more impressive 9-of-11 free throws.

After Game 2 of the Eastern Conference First Round, Davis next came up big against the Cavaliers in Game 5. He scored 15 points, had four rebounds and made 7-of-10 free throws in the Celtics’ 120-88 win.

Then came his 17-point, six-rebound outing in Boston’s 94-71 win in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals against Orlando.

While most of Davis’ big nights have come when Garnett was either out of the game, having an off night or in foul trouble, he still deserves a lot of praise.

Hey, someone has to come up big in tough situations, and let’s not forget that, Garnett or not, Davis is still facing the creme de la creme.

Davis’ next solid outing came in the Celtics’ 91-84 loss to the Lakers in Game 3 of the NBA Finals, in which he had 12 points and three rebounds.

Of course, that all led up to Davis’ ultimate redemption act in Game 4.

His effort went much further than the box score indicated. By playing exceptionally well at the highest stage, Davis proved that he is one of he NBA’s best role players and that he certainly deserves the championship ring on his finger.

And if he plays like he did last night in any of Boston’s next three games, he may be able to add another ring to his repertoire.

Gethin Coolbaugh is the Associate Editor of Boston Sports U18. He can be reached at 774-279-1995 or at gethin.coolbaugh@bostonsportsu18.com. You can also visit Gethin Coolbaugh’s official website and follow Gethin Coolbaugh on Twitter.

*Quotes from this story were used from the news services of ESPN Boston, which can be read by clicking this link.

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Coolbaugh: Stephen Strausburg’s debut was a bright spot for Nationals, D.C. and the game of baseball

Nationals pitcher Stephen Strausburg allowed four hits, two earned runs and zero walks while striking out 14 in his Major League debut against the Pirates in front of a sell-out crowd at Nationals Park on Tuesday night. (Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

Nationals pitcher Stephen Strausburg allowed four hits, two earned runs and zero walks while striking out 14 in his Major League debut against the Pirates in front of a sell-out crowd at Nationals Park on Tuesday night. (Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

By Gethin Coolbaugh

For a brief moment in time, the nation turned its attention to a baseball game in Washington D.C last night.

But it wasn’t the game itself that drew the attention of millions of baseball fans, or the two teams playing it.

Instead, the focus of the sports nation turned to a 21-year-old hurler who carries the weight of an entire franchise and city on his shoulder.

A weight, that he is more than capable of carrying.

Stephen Strausburg made his Major League debut on Tuesday night in front of a sellout crowd at Nationals Park in Washington D.C. against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

It was the most anticipated debut in the sport’s history, and Nationals fans were alerted of it a week prior.

Within hours, the game was sold out.

Strausburg knew that he would be making his high stakes debut on June 8th. And for a 21-year-old, that can be a lot to handle.

But instead of succumbing to the pressure, Strausburg turned in a performance for the ages.

Strausburg allowed four hits, two earned runs and zero walks while striking out an unprecedented 14 batters in seven innings as the Nationals topped the Pirates 5-3 in a night that will never be forgotten in the D.C. area.

His first pitch was a ball outside to Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen, followed by two straight 99 mile per hour fastballs. McCutchen then grounded out to short for the game’s first out.

Neil Walker then lined out to first for the second out before Strausburg struck out Lastings Milledge for his first Major League punchout.

Ryan Zimmerman hit a solo home run in the bottom of the first to give Strausburg a 1-0 lead heading into the second inning.

Strausburg gave up his first hit to third baseman Andy Laroche in the second inning, which was an opposite field single to right.

His flawless debut was interrupted in the top of the fourth inning when Delwyn Young hit a two-run home run to deep right center.

But in retrospect, it was a blip on the radar.

When Strausburg was finally taken out in the seventh, he received a much deserved ovation and took three shaving cream pies to the face after the game.

As far as first impression go, his was nearly spotless.

But Strausburg’s debut was much more than a spotless start resulting in a win. In a way, it issued in a new era in baseball, specifically in Washington.

Not since the 1971 has the Washington area had a ball club that it could take pride in. While the Nationals moved to D.C. in 2005, they haven’t done anything that warranted any celebration.

One quality start doesn’t guarantee that a franchise is on a path to redemption, but it does give Nationals fans something they haven’t had since the club’s days in Montreal: hope.

And after the selection of catcher Bryce Harper with the first pick overall in this year’s first year player draft, baseball in Washington has never seemed more promising.

There’s no question that those seven strong innings that Strausburg pitched on Tuesday night were the most important in franchise history, and they may be the most important for baseball in the modern day era.

Strausburg’s emergence opens up a new chapter in baseball history. As far as we cal tell, Strausburg is the next pitching great.

His star power is already at an 11 on a scale of 10, and the guy pitched once.

But not only does his potential superstardom open up new avenues for the Nationals, but it benefits Major League Baseball nation wide.

Fans of struggling teams such as Kansas City, Baltimore and Cleveland will flock to the ballpark to get a glimpse of Strausburg.

You can bet that Bud Selig is wearing his Strausburg jersey today.

But most importantly, Strausburg brings a new level of competition into the league. From his wide array of pitches to his commanding control, Strausburg sets the bar a little higher for his fellow pitchers.

As a baseball fan, I’m thrilled to have the chance to watch a dominant pitcher grow and develop into a potential legend.

And maybe one day, when I take my kids to Cooperstown, I might see a golden plaque with the following inscription.

Stephen Strausburg: The greatest pitcher that ever lived.

Gethin Coolbaugh is the Associate Editor of Boston Sports U18. He can be reached at 774-279-1995 or at gethin.coolbaugh@bostonsportsu18.com. You can also visit Gethin Coolbaugh’s official website and follow Gethin Coolbaugh on Twitter.

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Coolbaugh: Same teams, same rivalry, new pieces

Celtics forward Paul Pierce (left) and Lakers forward Ron Artest are both critical components to their team's success in the NBA Finals. Pierce scored a team-high 24 points in Game 1, but Artest proved to be the difference in the game with his 15 points and four rebounds in addition to Kobe Bryant's 30 points and Pau Gasol's 23 points in Los Angeles' 102-89 win on Thursday night. (Robyn Beck/AFP Photo)

Celtics forward Paul Pierce (left) and Lakers forward Ron Artest are both critical components to their team's success in the NBA Finals. Pierce scored a team-high 24 points in Game 1, but Artest proved to be the difference in the game with his 15 points and four rebounds in addition to Kobe Bryant's 30 points and Pau Gasol's 23 points in Los Angeles' 102-89 win on Thursday night. (Robyn Beck/AFP Photo)

By Gethin Coolbaugh

Make no mistake, this is still a series between the two most storied franchises in NBA history: the Celtics and Lakers.

But both are completely different teams than they were when they met in the Finals back in 2008.

The Lakers are much better off now, while the Celtics, lets face it, have gone downhill.

There’s no question that Boston was the better team in 2008, having the better starting rotation and a strong bench.

At that point, the Lakers boasted only two stars in Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. They still had Derek Fisher and Andrew Bynum, though Bynum missed the Finals, but they didn’t have a major impact.

Now, only two years later, the Lakers are primed for another mini-dynasty like that of the Lakers teams of 2000-2002.

They’ve already been in three Finals in a row including this year’s. The defeated the Magic in five games last year and lost to the Celtics back in ’08. And with their 102-89 Game 1 win against the Celtics on Thursday night, they are in good shape to make it two championship titles in three seasons.

But let’s not jump ahead of ourselves.

As for the Celtics, after winning in 2008, they cooled off. Last season started with a bang as Boston jumped out to a 27-3 start, but they fell back to Earth in the final half of the season.

Being an old team, the Celtics were hit hard by the injury bug. Kevin Garnett was hit particularly hard after he was sidelined for the remainder of the season after suffering a right knee injury against Houston.

Boston made some noise in the playoffs after topping the Chicago Bulls in seven games in the most eventful first-round series in league history.

Their bid for a repeat was ended by the Orlando Magic, who ousted the Celtics in Game 7 at TD Garden en route to their second appearance in the NBA Finals.

This season, the Celtics again started out hot, but they finished the regular season with a 50-32 record and in fourth place in the Eastern Conference. In its final 54 games, Boston posted a lackluster 27-27 record.

Miami proved to be a pushover in the first round of the playoffs after the Celtics bulldozed Dwayne Wade and the Heat in five games.

And then, the now historic flip of the switch.

Boston went from a team that finished its season in the middle of the pack to a team that played like it was 2008 all over again.

After winning one of the first three games against Cleveland in the conference semifinals, the C’s rattled off three straight wins to eliminate King James and the Cavs.

Then they made mince meat of the Orlando Magic, despite a two-game scare that pushed the series to six games.

But no one ever doubted that the Celtics would return to the Finals after putting up a commanding 3-0 series lead against the Magic.

And then, it was a rematch of the ’08 Finals.

But stop right there. That’s the last time that I’ll mention the 2008 Finals.

This series features two teams that resemble that of their meeting two years ago in name only. To borrow the overused adage, it’s a whole new ballgame now.

Kobe Bryant scored 30 points to lead all scorers and Pau Gasol added 23 points and 14 rebounds in the Lakers’ 102-89 Game 1 victory on Thursday night, but neither was the difference in the game.

While Bryant and Gasol provided the scoring, it was Ron Artest who proved to be the game’s X factor.

Artest scored 15 points and had four rebounds in 32 minutes. In the plus/minus category, Artest was an astonishing plus 26.

The closest Laker to Artest in plus/minus was point guard Derek Fisher, who was plus 18.

In perspective, the closest Celtic was Nate Robinson at plus 10.

The Celtics lost by 13, meaning that if Artest didn’t come up big in Game 1, we might be looking at a different situation heading into Game 2 at Staples Center on Sunday night (8 p.m. EST, TV/Radio: ABC/WEEI).

It’s imperative for the Celtics to find a way to contain the former NBA Defensive Player of the Year offensively.

Entering the series, the prominent concern was Artest’s defense. But now, the Celtics will have to consider him as an offensive threat.

If they can’t find a way to keep Artest from scoring, the Lakers may very well be just one championship away from tying the Celtics for most in league history.

That’s a scary though.

Gethin Coolbaugh is the Associate Editor of Boston Sports U18. He can be reached at 774-279-1995 or at gethin.coolbaugh@bostonsportsu18.com. You can also visit Gethin Coolbaugh’s official website and follow Gethin Coolbaugh on Twitter.

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Coolbaugh: Locked and loaded, Boston needs one win against Orlando to return to the NBA Finals

Celtics guard Rajon Rondo looks to lead his team into the NBA FInals with a win over the Orlando Magic in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals at 8:30 p.m. on Monday night at TD Garden (TV/Radio: ESPN/WEEI). (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Celtics guard Rajon Rondo looks to lead his team into the NBA FInals with a win over the Orlando Magic in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals at 8:30 p.m. on Monday night at TD Garden (TV/Radio: ESPN/WEEI). (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

By Gethin Coolbaugh

To borrow a phrase from everyone’s favorite Celtics color commentator, Tommy Heinsohn, are you kidding me?

This very same Celtics team that tripped over itself throughout the regular season is now making a deep run into the NBA playoffs?

Better yet, Boston has a chance to punch it’s ticket (or ticket stub, in Glen Davis’ case) to the NBA Finals with a win in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals at 8:30 p.m. on Monday night at TD Garden (TV/Radio: ESPN/WEEI).

All it will take is another win over the opposing Orlando Magic, which have already lost three consecutive games to dig themselves a 0-3 colossal hole in the best-of-seven series.

But there is one glaring criticism coming into Monday night’s Game 4 that stems from the other team that plays in the TD Garden.

After the Bruins jumped to a 3-0 lead in their Eastern Conference Semifinal series against the Philadelphia Flyers, many assumed the series to be over. But as the Flyers proved, it was really just the beginning.

And when all was said and done, Philadelphia rattled off four straight wins and came back from down 0-3 in Game 7 to win the series and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. And now, they’re one win away from facing the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Finials.

But you all know that, and I’m probably picking into an open wound.

Even though the Celtics are in the same situation, carrying a 3-0 lead into Game 4, their fate will most likely not be similar to that of the Bruins (although a Celtics loss on Tuesday will have Boston sports fans warning of such a collapse tomorrow on call-in sports talk radio stations).

Yes, the Celtics could very well lose tonight, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they did. Orlando is still a talented team, and even though they’ve seemed to give up their quest for a championship title in the conference finals, they could legitimately win at least one game before the series is over.

But certainly no more than two.

Boston’s experienced core of veterans realize the importance of closing out the series in quick fashion. The more steps they allow the Magic to take towards making a comeback, the more intensity Orlando will play with. So why not slam the door on them in four or five games when their hope is already on life support?

That being said, one would think that Orlando would throw everything except the kitchen sink at the Celtics in Game 4 in effort to prolong the series.

Then again, a loss may not be the worst thing for the Celtics tonight. We wouldn’t want our championship hindered by rust, would we?

That was my prevailing thought prior to writing this column, but then I realized why that might not be true.

The rust from rest theory applies to young teams that have been playing well. If a team is hot and playing fundamentally sound basketball, and then they’re forced to take a week off, it often leads to untimely doom.

But for an old team like the Celtics, who have plenty of injuries to nurse in a lengthy season and extended postseason run, seven days off could do them wonders.

Even still, it wouldn’t be the end of the world if Boston dropped Game 4 or 5 to Orlando. I have enough faith that they can get the job done, even in seven games.

I have to admit, even as I sit here at my cubicle writing this, it still hasn’t hit me that my Boston Celtics are one win away from the NBA Finals. Dare I say, five wins away from…their 18th NBA championship title?

It’s the Celtics improbable run that has caused the significance of Boston’s situation to avoid my grasp. Back in 2008, which seems like an eternity, the Celtics were favored to win it all. And they did.

But now, it’s the other way around. Boston stumbled into the playoffs and they weren’t supposed to make it to the finals, let alone out of the second round.

If and when they get that all-important fourth win of the series that sends them to the Staples Center (oops, I guess that series isn’t over yet), then the importance will hit me full on.

But for now, I’m just reveling in the remarkable run that the Celtics have made in 2010.

And it’s a lot more fun then it was in 2008, isn’t it?

Gethin Coolbaugh is the Associate Editor of Boston Sports U18. He can be reached at 774-279-1995 or at gethin.coolbaugh@bostonsportsu18.com. You can also visit Gethin Coolbaugh’s official website and follow Gethin Coolbaugh on Twitter.

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