Blakely: NFL has new deal; NBA, it's your turn


Blakely: NFL has new deal; NBA, it's your turn

By A. Sherrod Blakely Celtics Insider
Follow @sherrodbcsn
BOSTON The NFL and its players have come to terms on a new deal, just in time to avoid doing very little harm or damage to the league's image moving forward.

If only the NBA can be that lucky.

In the coming months, it's inevitable that comparisons will be made between the two leagues and the issues that ultimately led to work stoppages in both sports.

Don't be fooled.

The truth is, the NBA has it worse - a lot worse - than the NFL.

One league is making money (NFL) and was trying to figure out the best way to divvy up the dinero among all the outstretched hands.

And to think, it took them 137 days and they're making money, folks!

The NBA is trying to change the way money is distributed, with the goal being to set up a system that essentially guarantees profits.

"I'm dreaming" by Christopher Williams immediately comes to mind whenever I think of the owners and that pie-in-the-sky goal.

Meanwhile, the players would much rather see things stay as they are, which is understandable when the average NBA player makes north of 5 million a season.

Clearly the deal to be made is somewhere in between, but getting there won't be easy.

For the NBA to have a new collective bargaining agreement in place in the same amount of time it took the NFL, we'd be looking at rejoicing in the season to be on Nov. 14 which means even if they finished at the same rate as the NFL, games would be missed.

And with both sides nowhere close to reaching an agreement, it is setting the stage for what will likely be a very acrimonious, drawn out labor battle that in the end, is sure to do more harm than good to the league.

Forget about the name-calling and all that other nonsense that has gone on and will continue to in varying degrees as both sides draw out the lines for battle. Even as both sides steadily point the finger at the other for holding up a deal getting done, it won't matter.

Fans ultimately could care less about who is the blame.

The only thing fans know for sure now, is that everything they have seen, read and heard thus far indicates that the NBA won't start on time and that the potential for an entire season to be lost, is very real.

For Celtics Nation, this isn't as big a concern here as it is in some other small to mid-size markets.

Winners of 17 NBA titles - more than any NBA team - the Celtics have a strong global fan base.

Take the Oklahoma City Thunder.

While Oklahoma City isn't exactly the most exciting city on the NBA circuit, they have some of the best pro basketball fans that you'll find.

In a market so heavily entrenched in college football, the Thunder's fan base might look radically different - and a hell of a lot smaller - if an entire NBA season passes by without any games.

That's not good for business, for players, but maybe most important, for fans.

Without them, there would be no interest in the NBA, no need for shoe companies to fight over the next big this or that or for those ridiculous (faux) reality TV shows involving ex-spouses, girlfriends, whatever you want to call them, of former and current professional basketball players.

No one is diminishing the fact that getting a new collective bargaining agreement is no easy task for the NBA, even when the money was rolling in for players and owners alike. Yes, we'll talk about Basketball Related Income and guaranteed contract years and mid-level exceptions and salary caps, hard or soft.

It's all nice to know, but fans don't give a damn about that stuff.

When are the games coming back, and when can I get tickets? That's what they truly care about.

Unfortunately, the same can not be said for the players and owners.

While we all would love to see the NBA as just a game, the league is clearly more than that. It is a multi-billion industry that has made a lot of folks rich over time. But often overlooked at times like this when we talk about the league's growth, is the growth in its fan base.

One of the first owners to speak following the NFL and the league's players union striking an agreement, was Patriots owner Robert Kraft. Among his first comments was to apologize to the fans.

It was a classy move by Kraft to take note that while the deal certainly is one the owners and players feel good about, there was still a loser in all this - the fans - who had to endure months of uncertainty about a game they love to follow.

Fortunately for them, the games will go on and the NFL's image didn't get dinged up too bad in the process.

Will the NBA be that lucky?

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn.

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.”

Rozier's confidence, hard work earning him more minutes in Celtics rotation


Rozier's confidence, hard work earning him more minutes in Celtics rotation

BOSTON – You’ll have to pardon Terry Rozier if he doesn’t have that deer-in-the-headlights look about him when he takes to the floor tonight for what should be the first of many meaningful stretches of playing time.
You see, being harassed with the defensive pressure of Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart while trying to become a pest to Isaiah Thomas (which I’m told Rozier is frequently in practice), has instilled in Rozier the kind of confidence that’s not easily shaken.
That’s one of the main reasons why the Celtics aren’t freaking out about the departure of Evan Turner to Portland this offseason and more recently the sprained left ankle injury to Marcus Smart that’ll keep him out for a few games.
When it comes to filling those two voids, all eyes will be on Rozier.
“When somebody’s hurt, the next guy has to step up,” Thomas said. “Terry has shown he’s ready for that opportunity. He’s worked very hard this summer. I’m proud of him. I’ve been in that position before. He’s been waiting for that opportunity. He’s ready.”
Rozier had an impressive run during summer league as Boston’s best player. And in training camp, he hasn’t let up in being one of the standout performers.
It has led to the second-year guard being exactly where he thought his hard work in the offseason would take him to, and that’s a prominent spot in the Celtics’ rotation.
And in doing so, Rozier knows it’ll likely mean taking some minutes from his veteran teammates like Isaiah Thomas who he credits for always being there to help him grow as a player.
“I’m trying to get better, but I want to play too,” Rozier told “Getting his (Thomas’) minutes, anybody’s minutes, I’m going for it. But I know he’s not going to lighten up and make it easy for me. I know that. I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
It certainly looks like it for Rozier who has shown growth in just about every phase of his game since he was selected by Boston with the 16th overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft.
There were many who questioned Danny Ainge’s decision to draft a guard so high when he already had Thomas, Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart in the fold.
But Rozier has shown the promise that Ainge saw in him coming out of Louisville.

Now it’s just a matter of Rozier getting the kind of minutes and producing, that will ultimately validate the trust and faith Ainge and his coaching staff showed in selecting Rozier.
For Rozier, not being looked upon all that favorably is just par for the course when it comes to his basketball career.
“I’ve been doubted all my life,” Rozier said. “It ain’t hurt me. I always tell myself, ‘they’re gonna fall in love with me because I play hard and they’re gonna fall in love with my intensity level. People didn’t know who I was when I came here; that’s fine. They’ll fall in love with me and my game sooner or later.”