Boston's athlete wish list: Who would you want?

836675.jpg

Boston's athlete wish list: Who would you want?

Here in Boston, weve been fortunate, especially of late, to root for some ridiculously great sports teams. And with those teams, has come an array of exceptional athletes.

In the last 25 years alone, weve cheered on Cy Youngs and batting champs; Hall of Fame defensemen and a legendary (if not wacko) goalie. Weve watched history-making tight ends, perennial Gold Glovers, and the most prolific three-point shooter the world has ever seen. Weve been captivated by one of the greatest power forwards of all time, perhaps the greatest quarterback whos ever lived and an outfielder who once karate-kicked a catcher.

To quote the great Paul Revere: Its been real, bro.

But even amidst all this glory and good fortune, were still missing out. Even in the face of all this success, there are still certain experiences and corners of sports fandom of which weve never enjoyed.

This hit me yesterday while I was writing about Chandler Jones emergence as New Englands most exciting and potentially dominant outside pass rusher in at least five lifetimes. And it got me thinking: What other specific types of athlete whether its a matter of need (as in Chandlers case) or pure aesthetics are on Bostons wish list?

For instance, if wed asked this question five years ago, responses would have included:

You know, its been a long time since weve been blessed with a transcendent point guard.

Will we ever know the excitement of watching a prolific base stealer?

Whats it like to root for a superstar wide receiver?

Thankfully, Rajon Rondo, Jacoby Ellsbury and Randy Moss have since answered the call.

So, whats left?

Here are a few suggestions. Feel free to add your own in the comment section. Also, feel free to not. Either way, no hard feelings.

Game-breaking punt returner: Irving Fryar led the NFL in punt return average in 1985, and Troy Brown did the same in 2001, but neither especially Brown instilled the fear of God in the other team. Just once, wouldn't it be nice to see a punt float through the air and just know that the opposition is collectively soiling their spandex? Or for a team set up for a punt in the waning minutes of a close game, and to hear the announcer say: "They'd be crazy to kick to X here."

Professional dunker: We had Ricky Davis for two seasons, and Gerald Green for basically one. But five years is far too long to go without an athlete who's destined for SportsCenter every time he gets out on the break. Note to Danny Ainge: KEDRICK BROWN IS VERY AVAILABLE.

Wait, he's also 31 years old. Damn.

Centerfield surprise: In 2011, Jacoby Ellsbury became the Red Sox first Gold Glove-winning outfielder since Ellis Burks. But quick, off the top of your head, how many memorable Ellsbury catches come to mind? Nothing really sticks out for me. Ellsbury just isn't that kind of guy. And by that kind of guy I mean a home run-stealing, full-extension-loving, acrobatic freak. I'm talking about guys like Torii Hunter, Jim Edmonds, Ken Griffey Jr. or even Aaron Rowand.

In Ellsburys defense, Sox center fielders are inhibited by a center field wall that (short of spidey senses) is impossible to scale. But the Sox still play half their games on the road, and there are plenty of balls for the nabbing. It's hard to complain about what Ellsbury has done for this team (when healthy), but if he and the Sox part ways, I wouldn't mind them finding a web-gem machine to fill the void.

And yeah, I see you, Jackie Bradley.

50-goal scorer: Cam Neely registered three 50-goal seasons in his career, the last of which came in 1993-1994. Thats also the last time the Bruins have had one (although Glen Murray came close in 2002). In fact, only five players in Bruins history (Neely, Ken Hodge, Rick Middleton, John Bucyk and Philip Anthony Esposito) have eclipsed the mark, and its high time they have another. Hmm, if only there were a young, potential superstar the Bs could draft and sign to a six-year35M extension . . .

All rebounds, all the time: Of all the specialists in professional sports, Ive always had a soft spot for the pure rebounders. The guys like Dennis Rodman, Reggie Evans and Popeye Jones who exist entirely on their willingness to outmuscle, out-hustle and fight like hell for rebounds. The last guy the Celtics had like that was Danny Fortson who averaged a cool 15.4 rebounds per 36 minutes in over his one season here.

Rocket-armed catcher: In the annals of baseball history, there have been more than 500 instances of a catcher throwing out at least 50 percent of potential base stealers. And not since Sammy White in 1958 has one of these catcher played for the Red Sox. (Although, Rich Gedman came close in 1986, throwing out 54 of 109 runners for a .495 clip.) Otherwise, its been pretty ugly. Willie McGee ugly.

OK, so there's six to get you started. What else you got?

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

Blakely: Thomas isn't a starter, but new All-Star voting is an improvement

Blakely: Thomas isn't a starter, but new All-Star voting is an improvement

BOSTON – There’s certainly some disappointment among Celtics Nation that Isaiah Thomas just missed out on being an All-Star starter in the East.

But one thing we can certainly see with the new voting system … it works way better than the old way of choosing starters.

This was the first year that the NBA decided to allow current NBA players as well as a select panel of media choose who the starting five in the Eastern and Western Conferences would be.

The fan vote would count for 50 percent while media and players would each represent 25 percent of the final tally.

From there, the players would receive a fan ranking, a media ranking and a player ranking.

Because of the aforementioned breakdown – fans count for 50 percent while media and players represent 25 percent of the vote – the fan ranking would be counted twice while the media and player rankings would be counted once.

Let’s look at Isaiah Thomas’ situation which ultimately came down to him and Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan for the final starting spot in the backcourt.

Thomas was fourth in the fan voting, second in the player voting and first among guards in the media voting. So when you add the fan voting (4 *2) + player voting (2 *1) + media voting (1*1), you get a total of 11 which is then divided by 4 to arrive at a score of 2.75.

Now let’s look at DeRozan.

He was third in the fan voting, third in the player ranking and second in the media voting among guards. So his score when you add the fan voting (3*2) + player voting (3*1) + media voting (2*1), you get a total of 11 which when divided by 4 brings you to a score of 2.75 – same as Thomas.

The tiebreaker was the fan vote which meant DeRozan and not Thomas, would get the starting nod in next month’s All-Star game.

As much as it may suck that Thomas lost out because of this system, he would not have had a shot at being a starter under the old system in which the fans were the ones to pick starters.

In fact, it would have been Chicago’s Dwyane Wade in the starting lineup under the old system.

No disrespect to D-Wade, but he has not had an All-Star worthy season. And had the old system been in place, he would be an all-star and thus take up a roster spot of another player who frankly, is more deserving.

And if you take a glance out West, they too would have had a starter who has not had an All-Star caliber season.

Golden State’s Zaza Pachulia finished second in the voting among Western Conference forwards, fueled in large part to his home country, Georgia, voting early and often for him. Because of the media and player voting, Pachulia wound up sixth among Western Conference big men which is still too high when you consider some of the players behind him – Memphis’ Marc Gasol, Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns, San Antonio’s LaMarcus Aldridge and Los Angeles Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan – who are all having better seasons.

While no one would say this new system is perfect, considering how this year’s voting would have panned out under the old rules, this change by the league is a good one that should stick around.

NOTE: I was among the media panelists selected by the NBA to vote for this year’s All-Star starters. My selections in the East were Cleveland’s LeBron James, Kevin Love and Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo in the frontcourt with Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving and Boston’s Isaiah Thomas in the backcourt. My Western Conference selections were Kevin Durant of Golden State, Anthony Davis of New Orleans and Kawhi Leonard of San Antonio in the frontcourt, with Houston’s James Harden and Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook in the backcourt.