Four years since the Celtics won Banner 17

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Four years since the Celtics won Banner 17

Yesterday was an enormous day in the world of sports.

We had the final round at the U.S. Open. Game 3 of the NBA Finals. Sox and Cubs at Wrigley. Dale Jr. back in the winners circle. Ladainian Tomlinson calling it quits. Ronaldo on fire. Antonio Cromartie testing the limits of Fathers Day.

It was a trip.

But four years ago yesterday we witnessed an event that trumps all that. An event that locally save for diehard Bruins fans trumps every sports moment in the four years since: Celtics 131, Lakers 92

Banner 17.

Anythiiings Possiiiiblllllle!

Big Baby is George Constanza.

Oh what a night.

In so many ways, its hard to believe that its only been four years since the Celtics were on top of the world. In fact, I was one of the hordes of people who spent most of yesterday thinking it had been five years. But thats not how math works. It's four years. Four years since the Celtics came together like very few teams before them. Since they erased more than 20 years of pain. Since they did it at home, against their most bitter rival. Since the Big 3 era became a complete and unquestionable success.

As we sit here today, theres a general and overwhelming feeling that the Big 3 era is over. Who knows if KG will come back, but from everything we've heard and from everything we can infer, Ray Allen's done in Boston. In which case, thats it. And at that point, we'll continue to ask the question that we have for the last two weeks, and really, for the last four years: Was one title enough?

Answer: YES.

Could they have had more? Of course. And that would have been fantastic. But asking if one was "enough," is like asking a guy who spent 20 years walking five miles to work: "Hey, how many Ferraris would it take to make you happy?" Yes, one was enough. It was always enough.

The fact that the "one" happened so quickly certainly changed our perception of what this team was capable of, but it never altered our expectations. We always looked at a second andor third title as gravy, but nothing necessary. And thank God, because two never came. In fact, "two" was lost in a series of should-have-been soul-crushing defeats. There was KG's injury, and blowing a 3-2 lead to the Magic in 2009. There was blowing a 3-2 lead to the Lakers in 2010. There was Danny Ainge ripping the heart out of the team in 2011, followed by Rondo's elbow injury. There was blowing their third 3-2 lead in four years, two weeks ago in Miami.

That's not to say those losses were void of emotion. They all hurt in their own unique way and will continue to do so forever, but nothing that happened these last four seasons will sting as much as it should. None of it will stain the legacy of the Big 3 as deeply as it could have. That's all because of June 17, 2008. Four years ago yesterday.

It was the only title that this core brought to Boston, but the only one they ever had to.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Draymond Green fined $25,000, not suspended for groin kick

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Draymond Green fined $25,000, not suspended for groin kick

NEW YORK - Draymond Green was fined $25,000 but not suspended by the NBA on Monday for kicking Oklahoma City center Steven Adams in the groin.

The league also upgraded the foul to a flagrant 2, which would have resulted in an automatic ejection had officials given it that ruling when it happened. That moved him closer to an automatic suspension for accumulation of flagrant foul points.

But Green will be on the court when the Warriors try to even the Western Conference finals at 2-2 on Tuesday at Oklahoma City.

Green was called for a flagrant 1 foul after he was fouled by Adams with 5:57 remaining in the second quarter and kicked his leg up into Adams' groin. Though the Thunder felt it was intentional, Green and Warriors coach Steve Kerr said they believed the flagrant would actually be rescinded by the league.

NBA Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Kiki VanDeWeghe disagreed.

"After a thorough investigation that included review of all available video angles and interviews with the players involved and the officials working the game, we have determined that Green's foul was unnecessary and excessive and warranted the upgrade and fine," VanDeWeghe said in a statement.

"During a game, players - at times - flail their legs in an attempt to draw a foul, but Green's actions in this case warranted an additional penalty."

The NBA determines a flagrant 1 foul to include "unnecessary contact." A flagrant 2 is defined as "unnecessary and excessive contact."

Green now has three flagrant foul points during the postseason. One more will force him to miss Golden State's next game.

Green was an All-Star and the runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year, but had a dismal game as Oklahoma City took a 2-1 lead. He was 1 for 9 from the field with six points and the Warriors were outscored by 43 points when he was on the court.

China's 7-foot-2 Zhou Qi an intriguing option for Celtics

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China's 7-foot-2 Zhou Qi an intriguing option for Celtics

BOSTON -- With eight picks in next month’s NBA draft there’s a very good chance the Celtics will go the draft-and-stash route with a couple of international players, with the goal being for them to stay overseas and grow their game.

That makes China’s Zhou Qi (pronounced Joe Chee), who was in town last week for a workout with the Celtics, a legitimate target with one of Boston’s three, first-round picks.

Selecting Zhou with the No. 3 overall pick is not going to happen. And selecting a player to keep tucked away with the 16th pick is a bit of a stretch, too.

But taking Zhou at No. 23 is definitely something the Celtics will consider. Boston also has five second-round picks, but league executives contacted this weekend by CSNNE.com anticipate he will be taken in the latter stages of the first round.

While little is known about Zhou in the United States, the Celtics have had him on their radar for quite some time.

“We’ve known about him for a couple of years,” said Austin Ainge, Boston’s director of player personnel. “He’s probably the third- or fourth-most recognized name in Chinese basketball.

Indeed, Zhou is trying to follow a path towards the NBA that was paved by Chinese big men Yao Ming and Yi Jianlian, who were both high lottery picks (Yao was the No. 1 overall pick for Houston in 2002 while Yi was selected with the sixth overall pick in 2007 by Milwaukee).

Zhou’s stock isn’t quite that high, but there’s no mistaking he's a player that several teams with first-round picks are intrigued by.

At 7-2 1/4, Zhou’s wingspan at the NBA combine earlier this month measured an astounding 7-7 3/4. The only other player whose wingspan was greater than that at the NBA combine was Utah’s Rudy Gobert (7-8 1/2). Zhou has a standing reach of 9-4 1/2 and can touch the rim on his tippy toes.

However, Zhao’s lithe frame (he weighs 218.2 pounds, which is a little more than 10 pounds more than he weighed a few months ago) is indeed reason for some teams to give serious thought to keeping him overseas to fill out his frame for another year or two.

Despite being so skinny, teams have raved about his surprisingly nimble movement as well as his skill level.

During the combine earlier this month in Chicago, Zhou showed some his deft shooting touch by draining 14-of-25 3s taken from five different points on the floor. In addition to his scoring, Zhou is a much more athletic big man that most might expect, which can be seen in his maximum vertical leap measuring out at 31 1/2 inches.

Think about this:

The guy can practically touch the rim without jumping, and then you top that off with a vertical leap of more than 30 inches?

Boston was just one of a handful of teams the 20-year-old decided to work out for leading up to next month’s draft. 

“It was great to have him in,” Ainge said.

The Suns were another. During his workout with Phoenix, the Suns pitted him against Eric Jacobsen of Arizona State. They were looking to see how Zhou handled himself against Jacobsen, who is a 6-10, 240-pound center.

“Usually my hand is up by the ball, but I was getting up to his face and the ball was, way up there,” Jacobsen told the Arizona Republic.

Suns assistant general manager Pat Connelly was eager to get an up-close look at how Zhou handled himself against a strong center like Jacobsen.

“You can see that stuff on tape, but it’s always good to see a guy come in and get an appreciation for how a guy takes the contact,” Connelly told the Republic. “Which will be important for him going forward. He did well.”