OFFSEASON

Friday FT's: Bronze statues and police applications

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Friday FT's: Bronze statues and police applications

Welcome back to Friday Free Throws, a weekly recap of the most interesting news, notes, and information that have not made the headlines but are still worth a read.
How do you make a larger-than-life sports star, well, even larger than life?

A 900-pound bronze statue sounds like a good idea.

On Thursday, Louisiana State University unveiled the enormous tribute to Shaquille ONeal in front of the LSU Tigers practice facility in Baton Rouge. Following the ceremony, O'Neal addressed the media, at which time he gave a shout out to Glen Davis and other LSU alum in the league, recalled being a 13-year-old eager to play ball, and shared that he is nearing the completion of his doctorate (he noted his dissertation is on the duality of humor and aggression in leadership styles.). Check out LSUsports.net for interview highlights and photos.

Another side of ONeal was also revealed this week in the form of a job application. After being traded from the Los Angeles Lakers to the Miami Heat in 2004, O'Neal applied to work for the Miami Beach Police Department. (He was sworn in as a reserve police officer in 2005.) The Miami New Times posted information from the application -- "Like any cop in Florida, O'Neal had a personnel file that is subject to a public records request, Gus Garcia-Roberts noted -- including:

- Asked about "special skills" or "equipment", Shaq simply wrote: "Laptop computer, binnochulars sic, master of surveillance"

- Shaq's character references are three neighbors from Star Island, including Gloria Estefan. The queen of Latin pop gave him a spotless reference, although indicated that she only knew him "somewhat".

- His weakest quality? sic "Don't express myself when he feels he should. His father was a drill sgt. who taught him to keep everything in."

- His police training appeared to have been penciled in around his existing schedule on a calendar, including games, his mother Lucille's birthday, and shooting an ad for Starter.

On the topic of LSU alumni . . . This summer NBA players have headlined basketball tournaments and leagues around the country. This weekend, Glen Davis will take part in the 2011 Baton Rouge Pro-Am Classic in his home state of Louisiana. Others slated to participate include Zach Randolph, Stephen Jackson, OJ Mayo, and Marcus Thornton. Also on the list Anfernee Penny Hardaway (Davis was seven years old when Hardaway made his NBA debut in 1993).

"For many of these players, this is an opportunity to give back to the community, but make no mistake: there's a lot of personal pride involved, particularly since they're all forming their own teams. Add in the fact that these players are seasoned professionals, and you have all the ingredients for a pretty spectacular show, BRCC Men's Basketball Head Coach James Rix told WAFB Channel 9.

The format of the tournament is double elimination, with 20 teams conisisting of current and former pro basketball players. The championship game will take place on Sunday, September 11. Proceeds will benefit the BRCC Men's and Women's Basketball programs.

Carlos Arroyo may have been a backup point guard on the Celtics this season, but he has played a leading role for Puerto Rico in the FIBA Americas Olympics qualifiers. Arroyo, who was a member of the Toronto Raptors during his rookie year, scored 26 points against Canada in a win on Tuesday. As Doug Smith of the TheStar.com pointed out, Arroyos play did more than just help win the game for Puerto Rico:

Carlos Arroyo has long been a bane of Canadas existence on the international basketball stage, but never more than the former Raptors point guard is right now. With one of his typically explosive offensive games, Arroyo may have single-handedly dealt Canada a death blow in its quest to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics . . . Hes been a major international player for a long time, Canadian head coach Leo Rautins said in a conference call. Down the stretch they spread the court and he made some tough shots.

Although his offense has not been as strong since that game, he will look to lead Puerto Rico (5-2) against Argentina (6-1) on Saturday in the semifinals. Arroyo tweeted his thanks to his fans earlier this week.

Shoutout to Popdust.com for finding a Paul Pierce reference in a promotion for the upcoming television show, "The X-Factor." At the 52nd second mark, music mogul and competition judge L.A. Reid tells a contestant, "You are the truth."

Celtics Tweet of the Week
@JaJuanJohnson: Can it get any better? lifeisgood
Celtics Birthdays of the Week
Stan Noszka, who played for the Celtics in the late 1940s, was born on September 9, 1920 (he passed away in 1991).

This Week in Celtics History
On September 6, 1985, the Celtics traded Cedric Maxwell and a 1986 first-round pick to the Los Angeles Clippers for Bill Walton. The draft pick would be used to select Arvydas Sabonis. Walton and Sabonis would go on to be inducted in the NBA Hall of Fame . . . On September 9, 1982, the Celtics traded Dave Cowens to the Milwaukee Bucks for Quinn Buckner. Three years later on September 3, 1985, they traded Buckner to the Indiana Pacers for a 1989 second-round pick.

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.com!JCamerato

OFFSEASON

Report: Celtics to make qualifying offers to Sullinger, Zeller

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Report: Celtics to make qualifying offers to Sullinger, Zeller

The Celtics will make qualifying offers to Jared Sullinger and Tyler Zeller by the Friday deadline, the Boston Herald reports.

With offers of $4.4 million to Sullinger and $3.7 million to Zeller, the two will become restricted free agents, meaning the Celtics have can match any offer sheet they sign. The two would have become unrestricted free agents without the qualifying offers.

Sullinger could take the offer to become an unrestricted free agent next summer, but the Herald reported Zeller would likely be looking elsewhere to find a bigger role after his playing time decreased last season.

Sullinger started 73 games and averaged 10.3 points and 8.3 rebounds in the regular season. He averaged 5.2 points and 4.5 rebounds in 13.5 minutes in the first-round playoff loss to the Atlanta Hawks and lost his starting job two games into that series. 

Zeller averaged 6.1 points and 3.0 rebounds last season. He played in three of the six games in the Atlanta series. 

OFFSEASON

Celtics' ace in the hole in pursuit of Durant: Brad Stevens

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Celtics' ace in the hole in pursuit of Durant: Brad Stevens

Kevin Durant is hanging out in the Hamptons waiting to be wooed by six NBA teams, including your Boston Celtics.

(Wait, this just in: A seventh party has entered the sweepstakes. Kelly Ripa, a fellow Hamptonite has requested to pitch KD on becoming her co-host. “It’s LIVE with Kelly and KD!” It flows.)

Today Durant meets with his current team the Oklahoma City Thunder. What the hell is anyone going to say in this meeting? “Hey, KD. Anything new since we saw you a month ago, when you couldn’t make a shot in the clutch against the Warriors?”

Seriously, what can OKC tell the guy about their team that he doesn’t already know? He could have just stopped by the GM’s office on his way to the Hamptons. But, in this day and age of the power player, all must bow to him. Ah, what the hell. I would probably do the same thing.

I have a gut feeling about OKC and Durant. He wants out. If not this year -- because it looks like he's going back to the Thunder for one more season -- than the next. Is it the small town? Is it that Russell Westbrook could bolt next season to the Lakers? Is it coach Billy Donovan?

Ahhh ha! That’s what I’m going with.

I've always read that Durant loves the fans in OKC. He has never seen like a “big city” guy to me, or someone who has to live in South Beach or Manhattan. Kevin Durant has always seemed to be about basketball and that’s why I think he has man love for Brad Stevens.

I have this moment during the playoffs when OKC was playing the Warriors engrained in my brain. Durant commits a stupid mistake out of frustration that results in a turnover and a Warriors hoop. On the sideline, Billy Donovan chews his ear off for what seemed forever.

That was a mistake. Billy the Kid needed to realize he wasn't in Gainesville anymore. Remember, Billy is chip off the old Rick Pitino coaching block. Both love to talk and love to coach.

That can work against you in the NBA.

Brad Stevens, who is a better coach than Donovan, would never do that. Heck, Brad rarely shows up a rookie on the sideline. He's smart enough to know if a veteran like Durant errs because he's mad, nothing needs to be said. Players like Durant, LeBron or Steph know when they screw up.

I can see Durant talking basketball with Brad for hours, I mean, leave the room at lunch and come back after dinner and you'd find the two still jawing about everything from calling plays after time outs to Texas’s prospects next year.

I know Danny Ainge sat next to Durant’s mother during the tournament and was fined for it. Still, it was a very nice touch and it certainly made an impression on KD.

But the real reason, in my opinion, that he's thinking about Boston is Stevens.

Now if the Celtics can sell on him on playing with Jaylen Brown, they have a real shot.

Good luck with that.

OFFSEASON

Report: Durant decision ’90 percent made’ to return to Thunder

Report: Durant decision ’90 percent made’ to return to Thunder

Kevin Durant’s decision to return to the Oklahoma City Thunder is “90 percent made” and “it would take an amazing sales pitch to change it,” a friend of the NBA’s top free agent told ESPN.

Marc Spears of ESPN’s The Undefeated reports that “barring an incredible sales job, several friends and business colleagues close to the 2014 NBA MVP expect him to return to Oklahoma City for at least another year.”

“His decision is 90 percent made. It would take an amazing sales pitch to change it,” one of Durant’s longtime friends told Spears and another said, “It’s going to take some sweet-talking to get him to pass up all the money he can get by staying in OKC.”

So, that “incredible sales pitch” will come Saturday from the Danny Ainge and the Celtics, who are scheduled to meet with Durant in the Hamptons on Long Island then. 

The Celtics are one of six teams that Durant will meet with. He talked to the Thunder Thursday.  Also making pitches this weekend will be the Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, the Los Angeles Clippers and the Miami Heat.  

Staying in OKC would be more lucrative for Durant.

Spears reports that Durant could get $30.6 million a year in an immediate multiyear deal with the Thunder as opposed to $28.4 million from the other teams and, if he opts for a shorter deal now and a longer one later, he could make as much as $40.7 million a year in Oklahoma City versus $32.6 million a year elsewhere.