By Kevin Henkin
Since the current group of writers for the FCP joined the site last summer, we’ve accumulated a few reader questions over that seemingly short period of time (slow down, people!). Therefore, it’s time to open up the first installment of the FCP Bag O’ Mail. (As a disclaimer, any resemblance to other Gen X Boston-themed sports writers in the content below is purely coincidental and should in no way be construed to be a mockery of such writers, if that sort of thing were to ever cause any legal problems). Onto the mail….
Q: Kevin, I’m very interested to know what was your favorite NBA Finals series?
– Guy, Northboro
A: Hmmm. Very tough question. I’ve given this a lot of thought and I have to say it’s the 1969 Finals between the Lakers and the Celtics. Although I was only a five month fetus at the time, I still remember the series very clearly because my Dad and I watched every game together. My favorite moment was when they showed an interview with Wilt Chamberlain and my Dad said, “Hey, that nehru jacket has no buttons!” I cracked up so much that I made bubbles in the amniotic fluid that gave my mother gas for a week. Anyway, I knew after Havlicek got poked in the eye in Game 3 that the Celtics would take the series in seven. I was right, as usual.
Q: Kevin, I watch every single second of Celtics coverage and I wait with bated breath for Greg Dickerson to give us the latest updates with his piercing, hypnotic stare. What is your favorite part of the pre-game coverage?
– Jen, Holliston
A: I’d have to say it’s the Mike Gorman interview with Doc Rivers. I had a teacher in college who wore the same pair of charcoal slacks and blue blazer combo to every single class. We students called it “The Streak” and made another line on the chalkboard to document the number of classes in a row that he wore the same outfit. Similarly, my buddies and I now document how many times in a row that Doc has showed up to the Mike Gorman interview in a plain white dress shirt, unbuttoned at the top and without a tie. The Streak is now at 107, beginning right after the last time Rivers wore one of those Steve Jobs mock turtlenecks. The absence of the tie has become a hot topic for debate and the questions persist. Is Doc trying to align himself with the working man and distance himself from “The Suits”? Does he have a chronic skin condition caused by tight dress collars? Does he simply hate ties and thus only slips them on at the last possible second? We demand some answers here, Mike.
Q: Kevin, have you ever considered the ramifications of drafting Acie Earl with the 19th overall pick in the 1993 draft?
– Matt, Portland, Maine
A: Have I ever considered it? Let me put it this way. This very question haunts me every night as I lay awake thinking of old 90210 episodes (my back is particularly painful at night). Here’s what should have happened: The Celtics should have used the pick to take Sam Cassell (he fell five picks down to the Rockets). I even wrote this at the time. I didn’t have a website back then but I wrote all of my important opinions in a notebook as proof of how right I would turn out to be in the future. Anyway, the Cassell pick would have made Dee Brown (who was in his 15 ppg prime) expendable. At the end of that season, Boston could have traded Brown and Dino Radja (whose trade value was never higher as an All-Rookie Second Team selection) to Atlanta for Kevin Willis, who rumor had it was sick of bickering with Dominique Wilkins. This would have shifted the subsequent Boston draft pick away from Eric Montross and to Jalen Rose instead and would have also avoided the ill-fated Wilkins signing. For the 1995 draft, Boston would have sent David Wesley (who GM Kevin McHale reportedly envisioned as his franchise player) and their own 14th overall pick to move up nine spots to grab Kevin Garnett. As a result of the enhanced lineup, Horace Grant would have also signed as a free agent that off-season, thus resulting in a core lineup of Cassell, Rose, Garnett, Grant and Willis. All of this definitely would have happened if only the Celtics had skipped over Acie Earl in the draft. I will now burn myself with a Red Auerbach lit cigar.
Q: Kevin, if you were sitting in a poker game with Doc Rivers, Jim O’Brien, John Carroll and Rick Pitino, who would win?
– Joey in Albany, New York
A: I’m glad you asked this question because as much as I know about basketball, boxing, football, baseball and the career of Billy Zabka, I know even more about gambling. How good am I, you ask? Hmm. Well, have you ever heard of Amarillo Slim, Johnny Chan and Doyle Brunson? Yes? Morons. Anyway, the short answer to your question is that I would win, me being such an expert gambler and all (By the way, my next 10,000 word running diary of my latest trip to Vegas with my entourage of cleverly nicknamed buddies will be forthcoming shortly). As for the rest of the table, it would go something like this: Rick Pitino would insist on changing all of his cards as often as possible to no avail, Jim O’Brien would stand pat, sticking with all of his “veteran cards” instead, and Doc Rivers would claim that the seven and eight cards were in fact just as suitably used as jacks and queens and therefore incorrectly claim to have a royal straight flush. I choose not to acknowledge John Carroll’s presence at the table, which is my prerogative.
Q: Kevin, me and my 19 year old buddies read every single word that you write and take it all as the gospel truth. Therefore, we need you to resolve something for us. Specifically, if one train leaves Providence northbound at 6:00 p.m. and another train leaves Boston southbound at 6:15 p.m., would Doc Rivers still be the worst coach ever to walk the face of the earth? By the way, if you include this letter in your mailbag, it will represent the crowning achievement of my entire life and my buddies will owe me five bucks on a bet so please take this into consideration. Faithfully yours.
–Mikey C. in Andover
A: Um, the answer to your math questions is yes. Otherwise, keep a look out for my new book, which is a reprint of stale and obsolete opinion columns updated with hip scribbles in the margins. It’s called “I Am a Bigger and More Knowledgeable Sports Fan Than You Are” and it’s available wherever double tall half-caf lattes are sold.
Check back again for the second part of the FCP Mailbag where some of the other writers for the site answer a few more timely and important questions.