ATLANTA — Picked-up pieces while asking Peachtree People if they still remember 28-3 …
▪ It’s time for Boston’s Basketball Jays to step up and win an NBA championship.
The path is clear. The Celtics have more good players than any other NBA team, and a lot of contenders are dealing with playoff injuries. In old Patriot-like fashion, all the worthy opponents are falling down in front of the Celtics.
Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have lived charmed lives here in Boston. Fans love them unconditionally, forgive all missteps, and honor them with the same reverence they bestow on the likes of Pedro Martinez, David Ortiz, Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Patrice Bergeron, and Brad Marchand. Boston’s twin Jays get the big bucks, shoe deals, and Subway sandwiches. They have local media folks openly campaigning for them for things like MVP and All-NBA.
Anytime the Jays come up short — like last year in the Finals — we are reminded that they are really young.
That is ridiculous.
Brown is 26 and came into the league in 2016. Tatum is 25 and came into the league in 2017. This is their sixth season together, they’ve been in the playoffs every season, and they’ve made it to three conference finals and one NBA Finals.
Sorry, but if I may borrow from Springsteen’s “Thunder Road,” maybe the Jays “ain’t that young anymore.”
It’s time for Danny Ainge’s lottery picks to take the Celtics (one championship since 1986) to the promised land. Boston has what every other team wants — two mid-sized slashers (Brown is 6-6, Tatum 6-8) who can play every position and score from every spot on the floor. Tatum and Brown are in their athletic primes, have been together for six full seasons, and have more supporting talent than any other team. This is their time.
Bill Russell won a championship in his first NBA season, then won 10 more in the next 12 seasons. John Havlicek was a champ in his first four seasons. Dave Cowens was a champ in his fourth season. When Larry Bird and Kevin McHale were in their sixth season together, they won their third and final championship.
The Hawks can’t stop the Celtics. The Sixers don’t have the numbers to beat Boston in a seven-game set. The Celtics are better than the Bucks, though that series won’t be easy. And there is no team in the West that can match Boston’s talent or depth.
There are no excuses for the Jays in 2023.
This is their time.
▪ Quiz: Name the top five Bruins playoff goal scorers in team history (answer below).
▪ The 2023 Red Sox do an awful lot of celebrating for a team that’s finished last twice in three years and spent most of April in the basement. The Fenway light show is totally obnoxious and almost got franchise third baseman Rafael Devers hit in the face by a baseball after the park went unnecessarily dark during a premature celebration Tuesday.
Every Sox base hit — even a popup dropped by the opponent — is acknowledged by the Boston batter pointing to his biceps. Swell. How about if opposing pitchers point to their own biceps every time they strike out one of the multitude of struggling Red Sox batters?
When Kiké Hernandez hit a solo homer in the sixth Wednesday — cutting a 10-2 deficit to 10-3 — he and the Sox celebrated as if they’d just won the World Series.
▪ When did Bill Belichick and Bill O’Brien become Harry Potter fans? They’ve turned Mac Jones into He Who Must Not Be Named.
▪ Here’s a question for Bob Kraft and the Patriots Hall of Fame. How come longtime assistant coach Dante Scarnecchia is going into the Hall of Fame as a “contributor” and is not subject to the fan vote?
We all know Scarnecchia is more than worthy. And it’s considerate of the Patriots to just put him in their Hall without having him on a ballot competing for votes against popular former players. Why expose Dante to the possibility of coming up short against someone like Mike Vrabel or Logan Mankins?
This, of course, is exactly what Kraft does in the matter of Bill Parcells.
Parcells has been on the fan ballot five times, losing on the first four, always to a popular player. No doubt Kraft loves this. It’s a petty way to embarrass the man who forever changed the culture in Foxborough, and Kraft wants you to think he invented the franchise.
Fan voting for this year’s election closes May 2 and results will be announced May 3 or May 4.
▪ Speaking of Kraft, the New York Post reports the Patriots owner is in a small dustup with his Southhampton, Long Island, neighbors over the issue of installing an elevator in his $43 million beachfront property. The owner claims he needs the device because he is “mobility impaired,” but the stodgy neighbors object, citing photos of Kraft playing tennis and golf.
▪ One of my great readers put together his All-Time Massachusetts All-Town Red Sox team. Outfield: Ted Williams, Fred Lynn, Carl Everett; 1B Garry Hancock; 2B Drew Sutton; SS Billy Gardner; 3B Mike Lowell; C Bob Montgomery; starters Bill Lee, Josh Beckett, Tim Wakefield, Jon Lester, Erik Hanson; bullpen Allen Webster; IL James Paxton.
▪ Masataka Yoshida looks soft. Is this what the Sox get for $105.4 million? There was no weaker cleanup man in the bigs the first three weeks. Like a lot of Japanese position players, Yoshida is vulnerable to the high cheese. Maybe he will get better, but thus far he’s in the Jack Clark/Pablo Sandoval pantheon.
▪ The NBA and NHL have worked things out, and there is officially no chance of two Finals Game 7s in Boston on Sunday, June 18. The NBA is locked in for Game 7 on the 18th, but the NHL (less beholden to television) is prepared to play its Game 7 on Monday, June 19, if things go long.
▪ StubHub was listing courtside tickets for Friday’s Knicks playoff game with the Cavaliers for as much as $14,000.
▪ Former Harvard basketball player and current president of the NCAA Charlie Baker will be a commencement speaker at Bentley May 20.
▪ The Nuggets are playing in their 38th postseason, and according to Elias, no American pro sports team has been in the playoffs more times without winning a championship.
▪ Shohei Ohtani really is the new Babe Ruth. The Bambino christened old Yankee Stadium with a homer on April 18, 1923. One hundred years later — to the day — Ohtani homered at the new Yankee Stadium.
Get ready for a million stories about Ohtani signing with the Yankees next winter. Remember when the Red Sox were in the conversation for that kind of a player — those golden days when winning was more important than operating in the black?
▪ The University of Colorado continues to reap benefits from hiring super-fraud Deion Sanders as head football coach. The Buffaloes have sold out their entire home season.
▪ Sorry to see what’s happening to the Oakland A’s. We’ve said it for decades, but now it feels real. Oakland’s active roster is being paid $45.8 million, almost as much as a New York Mets starting pitcher (Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander each make $43.3 million). The A’s are worth $1.1 billion, according to Forbes, and Las Vegas wants them.
▪ Anybody else think of the “Seinfeld” Jean-Paul/Kramer/hot tea marathon episode when Eliud Kipchoge missed a water bottle at an aid station just before he fell behind in the Newton hills Monday? Maybe there was an AM/PM issue with Kipchoge’s alarm clock.
▪ Can’t believe I missed John Calipari’s cameo on “Billions” last year. Cal probably thought the title of the show was a reference to funds Kentucky boosters have donated to Wildcat recruits over the decades.
▪ UMass Boston will honor legendary athletic director Charlie Titus at its Campus Center Ballroom Sunday night. Titus retired in 2020, just as the pandemic was hitting, so this celebration was overdue. It also will serve as a fund-raiser for the Paula Titus Scholarship Fund.
▪ Quiz answer: Cam Neely (55), Brad Marchand (51), Patrice Bergeron (49), Phil Esposito (46), Rick Middleton (45).