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BOB RYAN

Can a James Harden-Chris Paul backcourt work? And other notes

Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

James Harden and Chris Paul 29.1 and 18.1 points per game, respectively, last season.

By Globe Correspondent 

Emptying Out the Desk Drawer of the Sports Mind . . .

 Can a James Harden-Chris Paul backcourt work without them killing each other over possession of the basketball? Perhaps they should sit down with Jerry West and Gail Goodrich, followed by a chat with Walt Frazier and Earl Monroe. The former pair averaged 52 points and 14 assists between them as the Lakers won the title in 1972. The latter pair averaged 36 points and 10 assists as the Knicks won the title a year later. Alpha males, all. It will take a bit of humility on the part of Harden and Paul, but it can be done.

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 Let ’em come. I’m talking about the dreamy-eyed high schoolers who think they’re ready for the NBA. But let them understand that there may be an apprenticeship in the renamed G League for minor league pay and conditions. It won’t necessarily be the glamour life they envisioned. And if they don’t like that, there are other countries to try. Make it like baseball and hockey. What we have now is a mockery of college athletics, and it’s not doing the NBA a great service, either. One and done is a ridiculous state of affairs.

 Are you ready to fast forward to the Patriots-Raiders AFC Championship game next January? I am.

 Needless, dangerous head-first sliding is a hard habit to break. Xander Bogaerts did a header into first base the other night and the first baseman was 3 feet away from the bag up the right-field foul line. There was absolutely no need.

 Love the Eck. “That’s not a strike,” he says Wednesday night. “How can he give him that?” And it was Robby Scott he was talking about.

 Looking at the night-in-night-out extraordinary level of defense that is played in major league baseball today, we must wonder how many base hits of the 19th century and up to the 1960s would have been taken away by the simple act of better fielding due to the combination of superior equipment and athleticism. This is one aspect of baseball that is still taken for granted.

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 Allow me to join the chorus in praise of old friend Leigh Montville’s new book, “Sting Like A Bee,“ the story of Muhammad Ali’s 1966-71 life as deposed heavyweight champion. Mr. Montville has this biography thing down pretty well. Then you can go find his works on Dale Earnhardt Sr., Evel Knievel, Babe Ruth, and Ted Williams.

 It’s easy for us to indulge in some heavy schadenfreude over the entirely predictable mess haughty Phil Jackson made of the Knicks, but the truth is the NBA is always in better shape when the Knicks are competitive. Plus, they’re not fun to hate if they aren’t any good. Same with the Yankees.

 Tim Tebow has proven to be a human ATM for the Mets, and did you see he hit a homer on his first night for the Port St. Lucie team Wednesday night? They’ve gotten their $100,000 investment back already.

 Did I notice that Sam Travis is decidedly Old School? No batting gloves.

 You know and I know there aren’t 96 better quarterbacks than Colin Kaepernick. Or 64. That’s all I’m sayin’.

 Not too long ago there were very few pitchers even as tall as 6 feet 4 inches. Now a lot of pitching staffs look like Division 2 frontcourts. Hard to believe 5-6 lefty Bobby Shantz was once an MVP.

 Speaking of undersized wonders, how good is Jose Altuve? He’s on a Cooperstown trajectory, for sure.

 Are people complaining at Fenway because they extended the screen to the dugouts? Didn’t think so.

 I realize many Celtics fans are totally antsy for Danny Ainge to parlay the “assets” into a blockbuster for an established player. You just can’t hold him to the standard he set nine years ago. That was a blissful convergence of circumstances.

 Nothing has changed, I can’t look at John Farrell without thinking of Bullwinkle’s Dudley Do-Right.

 I cringed when Doc Rivers acquired his son Austin. The only time father-offspring works in high school or college coaching is if the player in question is either the best or worst player on the team. When there is an issue of playing time, fireworks ensue. It’s unimaginable at the pro level, and now it may very well have blown up in Doc’s face. This was never going to work.

 Adrian Beltre is a worthy Hall of Famer. That one sneaked up on me.

 2004 was the historic, dramatic Curse-breaker. 2013 was the “Boston Strong”/“Every Little Thing Gonna Be All Right” title. 2007? It’s the middle child of championships.

 I’m beginning to think Rick Pitino isn’t going to have that farewell press conference.


Bob Ryan’s column appears regularly in the Globe He can be reached at ryan@globe.com.