Some tenets of trash talking


Some tenets of trash talking

By Mary Paoletti

I'm a big fan of trash talking in sports.

I do it a lot, especially during college basketball season.

Sometimes the payoff is sweetly satisfying -- like the wake of UConn's 2011 National title -- (WOOF). Other times -- like after 2010's brief NIT "run" -- you're left feeling bitter, angry and maybe a little foolish.

The topic comes to mind because things between the Boston and Tampa Bay crowds are getting ugly. And it should heat up; these fans are rooting for a trip to the Stanley Cup finals.

Unfortunately, I'm seeing some things I don't like. "Waitaminute," you say. "I thought anything goes in the world of smack-talk!"

Wrong. Trash-talking is also a game. There are winners, there are losers, and there are standards.

1. You shouldn't spit fire only when your team is tops.

Take, for example, the faithful fans of Tampa Bay's (Devil) Rays between 1998 and 2008.

There weren't any?

Oh. Okay. Well, let's look at '08. Tampa went 97-65 that season for the best record in the AL East. Boston's 95 wins had them at second. Fenway Park averaged 37, 632 fans getting drunk, making stupid signs and doing the wretched wave a game that season. The Rays? 22, 259. Great number, gang! Big cap-tip to those who gathered up their cowbells and trudged over to the Trop.

Even if numbers slip, you've got to work with what you've got. When the Rays traveled to Boston and crushed the Sox 10-3 in September of '08, some prideful townie in red stuck around and got a substantial chorus to chant something unkind about Evan Longoria's mother.

Hang tight.

2. Don't use history as ammo if your franchise doesn't have any.

This one's more a helpful hint than anything. It just sounds silly when somebody beats his chest and says, "RESPECT US. RESPECT OUR CLUB AS ONE OF THE FINEST TRADITIONS IN HOCKEY DESPITE THE FACT THAT EVERY PLAYER ON OUR ROSTER IS OLDER THAN THE FRANCHISE."

The other day I saw some Lightning fan waving Tampa's 2004 Stanley Cup around with words. Neat! Boston won Stanley Cup No. 1 (out of five) in its first 12 years as a hockey club, too. That was in 1928.

Might want to try a different approach.

3. Be prepared to get what you give.

Bruins marketing has used The Bear in ad campaigns for a few years now. His ads are lighthearted but pointed. Like this one:

Lightning fans could have responded in several ways.

A. Laughter and promises of a vengeful butt-kicking in Game 3.
B. Anger and promises of vengeful butt-kicking on the ice in Game 3.
C. A similar ad campaign that roasts Boston in a smart, fun way.
D. Indignation and whining.

Tampa chose 'D'. It's unfortunate.

Boston's billboards were taken down due to complaints. Ringleader of the Dish-It, Don't-Take-It Crew is Tampa radio show host, Mike "Cowhead" Calta. The part I don't get? For someone supposedly offended by wit and humor, the guy's counter-attack was exponentially worse -- just hateful and disgusting. Beyond the comments NESN documented, Calta also called Bruins fans fgs and pssies via Twitter.

Hub hockey fans are going to respond in kind and it's not going to be pretty. Thing is, by setting such a disgusting and bigoted tone, he has surrendered his right to complain about anything anybody says to him in the future.

Best of luck, you jackhole.

4. If you make a bet you have to own up to it.

Tony Luke Jr. is a perfect example of this tenet.

Luke is a lover of all Philadelphia sports but I don't hate him because he's a stand-up guy. He made a bet with Bruins fan Kosta Diamontopolous during the Stanley Cup semifinals, lost it (like his Flyers lost the series and their pride) and made good on the deal.

Check it out:

An attitude like that gets you respect in this city.

Anybody who touts his or her team gets to gloat like hell after a win. The same people also have to know when they're beaten. Considering there are at least three more games to play in the Eastern Conference finals, I hope the fans figure it out fast.

We'll all have more fun that way.

Horford-Celtics partnership gives both stability, chance to win


Horford-Celtics partnership gives both stability, chance to win

BOSTON –  This is not where Al Horford thought he would be right now.
Back in May, the Atlanta Hawks had just been swept out of the playoffs by the soon-to-be NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers.
Disappointed with the outcome obviously, Horford was a free agent-to-be who was confident that he would be back in Atlanta and the Hawks would retool by adding to their core group which he was a major part of, and they would be back to making another run at it this season.
First there was the draft night trade of point guard Jeff Teague to the Indiana Pacers. 
And during Horford's negotiations with the Hawks in July, they were also negotiating with Dwight Howard and ultimately signed the Atlanta native to a three-year, $70.5 million contract. 
Before the Howard deal was complete, the Celtics had already made a strong impression on Horford during their presentation to him. 
So the choice was pretty clear.
Return to Atlanta and potentially have a major logjam up front with himself, Howard and Paul Millsap, or join a Celtics team that’s on the rise where his five-tool skillset – passing, rebounding, defending, scoring and making those around him better – could be put to great use on a team that’s clearly on the rise. 
Horford chose the latter, giving both himself and the Celtics exactly what they wanted – stability and a chance to win at the highest of levels.
The first shot to see how this basketball marriage looks on the floor will be tonight when the Celtics kick off the 2016-2017 season at the TD Garden against the Brooklyn Nets. 
The preseason isn’t the best indicator of what’s on the horizon now that games count, but Horford’s presence was undeniable.
Boston’s starters which includes Horford, Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder and Amir Johnson, each finished with a positive, double-digit plus/minus in the preseason. 
“He just makes the game so much easier for all of us,” Johnson told “He can do so many things out there at both ends of the floor. He’s going to be big for us this season.”
And his impact can be felt both on the floor and inside the locker room, similar to what he brought to the Atlanta Hawks.
“With the way that I go about it is, I’m trying to win,” Horford told “I’m gonna work, put in my work, try to help guys get better not only on the court but off the court as well. That’s how I carry myself.”
 And it is that approach to the game that has made his transition to the Celtics a relatively seamless one. 
Horford holds many fond memories of his time in Atlanta, a place that will always be near and dear to his heart. 
But he’s a Celtic now, coming in with the same single-minded focus that drives this organization to continue pursuing the only thing that truly matters to them – an NBA title. 
"Even though I’m leaving a lot behind, as a player you always want to be in the best position you can,” Horford said. “I felt for me being on this team would put me in a position to be able to contend and win an NBA championship. That’s my ultimate goal.”

Report: Patriots RB Lewis expected to return to practice this week


Report: Patriots RB Lewis expected to return to practice this week

FOXBORO -- The Patriots will have a familiar face back on the practice field, it appears. 

According to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport, running back Dion Lewis is expected to begin practicing this week. Lewis has been on the physically unable to perform list since the start of the regular season. 

Lewis tore his ACL in a Week 9 win over the Redskins last season, landing him on season-ending injured reserve. He was able to participate on a limited basis during OTAs but then experienced a setback that required surgery before the start of the season. 

Once Lewis hits the practice field, the Patriots have a three-week window to place him on the active roster. The team currently has an open roster spot and could, in theory, activate him as early as this week. 

When healthy last season, Lewis as a dynamic all-purpose back whose quickness allowed him to make defenders miss both in tight spaces between the tackles and in the open field as a receiver. The Patriots have used James White as their primary sub back in Lewis' absence, and he's on pace for a career year, with 27 receptions for 244 yards and three touchdowns.