Dave Gavitt dies; founder of Big East, ex-Celts exec

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Dave Gavitt dies; founder of Big East, ex-Celts exec

Associated Press

Dave Gavitt had an impact on theworld of basketball. From a career as a successful coach, to changingthe face of college sports, to introducing the Olympics to a Dream Team,to running the Boston Celtics, Gavitt's touch was everywhere.His death Friday night after a longillness was confirmed by his family Saturday. He died in a hospitalnear his hometown of Rumford, R.I. He was 73.Gavitt coached Providence to the NCAAtournament five times, including the Final Four in 1973. He was thedriving force behind the formation of the Big East Conference and wasits first commissioner. He was selected to coach the U.S. Olympic teamin 1980, but the United States boycotted the Moscow Games. Gavitt waspresident of USA Basketball and oversaw the introduction of NBA playersonto the U.S. Olympic roster, including the Dream Team at the 1992Games."He was not only a great basketballcoach and organizer of the Big East but he was a great, great statesmanfor basketball, college and international," former St. John's coach andfellow Naismith Hall of Famer Lou Carnesecca said Saturday.Gavitt was the Big East'scommissioner from 1979 until 1990. He served on the NCAA's Division IBasketball Committee from 1980-84 and was its chairman from 1982-84when the tournament expanded to 64 teams and the first of its TVcontracts with CBS was negotiated.When he left the Big East, Gavittjoined the Boston Celtics front office as a vice president, succeedingRed Auerbach in running the franchise. He was fired in 1994.Gavitt served as chairman of theBasketball Hall of Fame, to which he was inducted in 2006. He waspresident of the NCAA Foundation and worked as tournament director ofthe Maui Invitational from 2005 until 2009.His biggest impact, however, was in the lives he affected during his decades in basketball."While he was changing the face ofcollege basketball with the Big East and NCAA Selection Committee, hewas still able to influence so many, including me personally,"Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun said Saturday. "He never didn't have timeto talk about the game. His legacy will always include his kindness aswell as his greatness. He will be greatly, greatly missed."Born Oct. 26, 1937, in Westerly,R.I., Gavitt played basketball and baseball at Dartmouth, graduatingfrom the Ivy League school in 1959. He was an assistant coach to JoeMullaney at Providence for two years before starting his head coachingcareer in 1967 at Dartmouth, where he was 18-33 in two seasons.He succeeded Mullaney at Providencein 1969 and led the Friars to a 209-84 record over 10 seasons for a.713 winning percentage that is still the best in school history. HisFinal Four team in 1973 featured Ernie DiGregorio and Marvin Barnes. Hebecame the school's athletic director in 1971.The Big East formed in 1979, withProvidence, Georgetown, Syracuse, St. John's, Seton Hall, BostonCollege and Connecticut the original members. Villanova joined the nextyear. One of Gavitt's biggest moves was to have the new league becomeworking partners right away with another new entity, ESPN."That ESPN came along when we did was very fortunate for us, and how we worked together benefited both tremendously," Gavitt said.He also moved the conferencepostseason tournament to New York's Madison Square Garden, where it hasplayed before sellout crowds since 1983. The conference's high pointcame in 1985, when it became the only league to have three teams in theFinal Four."We were so fortunate in so manyways at the outset," Gavitt said in 2006. "We put together a solidfoundation with a good plan, but we were fortunate to have four coacheswho were going to be at their schools for a long time in John Thompson,Louie Carnesecca, Jimmy Boeheim and Rollie Massimino, and having themstay in place was very significant."On the day Gavitt died the news insports was about Big East members Pittsburgh and Syracuse possiblyleaving for the Atlantic Coast Conference as the landscape of collegesports faced its biggest change in decades."It is especially sad, consideringtoday is certainly one of those days, with everything in the news aboutour league, I would love nothing more than to call him and ask himsimply, What do you think and what should we do?' " Calhoun said."Sadly, we cannot do that."Gavitt led USA Basketball from itsdays of a strictly amateur organization to one that would bring the NBAand its players to a worldwide stage every four years starting with the1992 Barcelona Olympics. Gavitt knew he needed the NBA to be a partnerwith USA Basketball."I wanted USA Basketball to be the28th NBA team, outside the family," Gavitt said. "I wanted NBAProperties, who are so good at what they do, to take our mark andrepresent us as our licensee and to help us get sponsorship."Gavitt's business acumen drew as much praise as his coaching."The rest of the world has learnedmuch from Dave Gavitt about basketball and he has taught us much morethan just on the court," said Alexander Gomelsky, coach of the SovietUnion's 1988 gold medal team. "He understands basketball as a businessand has shown many countries the right way to do things. Everybodystudies this because it is a fantastic business."Mike Tranghese was an assistant toGavitt at the Big East from the start and he succeeded him ascommissioner, retiring from that position in 2009."I wish I had the ability toproperly express my feelings," Tranghese said Saturday. "We lost agiant. He helped so many people in the game of basketball and had sucha profound influence . . . I think he's the most influentialcommissioner in the history of college athletics and at the same timewas a Hall of Fame basketball coach who quit at age of 40 to spend timewith his family. He had the ability to get things done and above allthat he was your friend and it wasn't just to the powerful people."Gavitt is survived by his wife, Julie, and two sons, including Dan, an assistant commissioner with the Big East.

Danny Ainge says Lonzo Ball has declined pre-draft workout with Celtics

Danny Ainge says Lonzo Ball has declined pre-draft workout with Celtics

BOSTON -- Like most NBA executives, Danny Ainge loves to get as much intel on players before picking them as he can.  
 
And with the No. 1 overall pick, Ainge knows he has to do all he can to absolutely get this one right.
 
That’s why any thoughts he had of drafting Lonzo Ball are likely out the window after the talented UCLA guard refused to work out for the Celtics.
 
“We tried to get him in for a workout and he politely said no,” Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations, said on 98.5 the Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich show.
 
Lonzo Ball’s desire (or his dad Lavar Ball’s desire; hard to say who in the Ball camp wants him in L.A. the most) to play for the Los Angeles Lakers is one of the worst-kept secrets leading up to next month’s NBA draft.
 
And with the Lakers holding the No. 2 pick in the draft, turning down the Celtics only increases the likelihood of  Boston passing on him and instead drafting University of Washington star Markelle Fultz.
 
“It’s not ideal,” Ainge said of Ball's decision to decline working out for Boston. “Listen, we’ve drafted guys that wouldn’t come in for workouts before. It’s not the end of the world. We’ve watched them play a ton. We have a lot of information on them. Sometimes players don’t want to come in, not because they don’t like you, they see our roster. They think they would prefer to go to another team.”
 
The Celtics, like most teams, have been mum publicly as to who they would take in the draft. But all indications at this point in the process are pointing towards them selecting Fultz with the top overall selection.
 
And the fact that Ball, the projected number two pick even before the draft lottery order was established, refuses to work out for Boston will only increase the likelihood that Fultz will be a Celtic and Ball and his camp will get their wish which has always been to don a Los Angeles Lakers jersey.

Celtics-Cavaliers preview: Game 5 is about respect for Boston

Celtics-Cavaliers preview: Game 5 is about respect for Boston

BOSTON – From the outset of this season, the Boston Celtics were swimming upstream when it came to getting respect. 

No matter how many wins they racked up, no matter how many upsets they managed to pull off, they were never going to do enough to satisfy the court of public opinion which wanted one thing and one thing only from the NBA: A third installment of Golden State against Cleveland in the NBA Finals. 

The Warriors did their part by running through the West with 12 wins in as many playoff games. 

Meanwhile, the Celtics will try to not just stave off elimination tonight, but continue to delay what so many believe is an inevitable Golden State-Cleveland Final.

Boston’s Al Horford understands that while the league this season has seen lots of individual success as well as teams that have overachieved, the thirst for Golden State versus Cleveland remains stronger than ever. 

“We understand that’s what everyone has been talking about since the beginning of the season,” Horford said. “For us it’s just to focus … and play the Celtic way. And just come out here and fight and we’ll take it from there.”

The Celtics did that in Game 3 with Avery Bradley delivering one of the more memorable shots in the Brad Stevens era, a game-winning three-pointer that hit the rim four times before falling with 0.1 seconds to play as Boston squeaked out a 111-108 win.

Boston did a lot of good things in Game 4 and seemingly went into the half sensing that maybe just maybe they would even up the series at two games heading back to Boston for tonight’s Game 5 matchup. 

But Kyrie Irving picked up the slack for a foul-plagued LeBron James, lifting the Cavaliers to a 112-99 win which puts them now just a win away from advancing to the NBA Finals. 

Not only have folks both in the media as well as fans who have rooted for this series to be over, even merchandise sellers like Dick Sporting Goods have anticipated this series as already being over.

“It is what it is,” said Boston’s Jae Crowder. “It’s been like that all year; a lot of guys counting us out. At the same time, we’re trying to put ourselves in position to win each and every game.”

While that has been the goal, it certainly hasn’t worked out that way in this series. 

Despite Games 1 and 2 being at the TD Garden, the Celtics lost both games by a total of 57 points. 

And while they won Game 3 and had the Cavaliers on the ropes in Game 4 before losing, they know their chance to play NBA Finals spoiler is just about up. 

“We know that’s the Finals that everybody wants to talk about, what everybody is looking forward to,” said Boston’s Marcus Smart. “We understand it. But we work just as hard as these guys. We just have to keep going out there and working. We’re not going to give it to them, and stuff like that. We just have to make it tough on them.”