The Greatest Holiday Party of All Time

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The Greatest Holiday Party of All Time

By Rich Levine
CSNNE.com

Yup, it's that time of year again.

Time to deck the halls, don your gay apparel and bask in the glow of more holiday-themed sports columns than Santa Claus himself could read.

Who's been naughty? Who's been nice? Who deserves what? Who's getting coal?!

Well, nobody here. You're not getting any of that from me. In fact, I don't even have to write a gimmicky column this holiday season. That's because I lived one.

Last night, atop the Renaissance Hotel at Patriots Place.

The Sports of Boston holiday party!

If you're unfamiliar, the SoB party is the annual event where all the owners, executives, players and coaches from Boston's four major sports teams convene in the name of holiday cheer. There's dinner, dancing, a photo booth. It's basically the prom which works out well because everyone already has their own private limo drivers.

So, how'd I get an invite?

That's not important. And anyway, if they didn't want people sneaking in, they shouldn't have made the air conditioning ducts so eccessible.

All that matters is that I was there.

I arrived a little early, because I'd heard the first people at the party are always the coolest. And who should I see as I walk in the door but Bob Kraft, John Henry, Wyc Grousbeck and Jeremy Jacobs, finishing up an early dinner.

It was a pretty surreal moment. You know, I just looked over at this table and thought, "Wow, they are the reason all this happened. These are the guys who made Boston a winner. What legendary owners . . . and Jeremy Jacobs."

I tried not to stare, but as I walked by could see Kraft, Henry and Grousbeck goofing around with each others' rings, while Jacobs asked the waitress for four separate checks.

"What?" he said. "I only got soup!"

The party was already getting wild and it hadn't even started. Although what did I expect, right? This was THE event of the year.

I made a quick pit stop, and then made my way through the dining room and into a lounge, where, by now, most of the guests were enjoying cocktail hour. Inside, Tyler Seguin, Devin McCourty and Avery Bradley passed appetizers (McCourty also intercepted some). Danny Woodhead walked with a sombrero-style nacho hat on his head. Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski worked the bar. And the sounds of a cappella duo "Kalish and Mesko" filled the speakers.

The rookies were doing a damn good job, and the night really started to take off. Spirits were sky high.

"OK, if everyone will please take their seats, we'd like to kick off the festivities," said emcee Don Orsillo as cocktail hour ended.

"Well, you better not kick it to Connolly!" screamed, of all people, Zdeno Chara, to a chorus of laughter.

Brandon Meriweather was so impressed that he walked over and gave Z a fist pound. (The scene is more powerful when you consider that Meriweather was wearing a 10-pound ostrich feather derby hat.)

Once everyone was seated, I was able to take a better lay of the land. The owners were still at their table. Cam Neely, Danny Ainge and Nick Caserio sat at the table next to them Theo Epstein should have been there but was up begging to the DJ to play more Pearl Jam. Next to them, you had Doc Rivers, Tito Francona, Bill Belichick and Claude Julien. Rivers and Francona were having the nicest, most friendly conversation you'd ever seen. Belichick was uncomfortably stirring a straw around the rim of his drink. Julien was just sort of looking at his shoes.

Next to them you had the head player table: Tom Brady, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia (MVP, sorry) and a place setting that used to say "Randy Moss" but had been crossed out and replaced by Rajon Rondo. Yeah, Rondo was there too but hadn't looked up much from the racing game he just downloaded on his iPhone.

You had a special table in the far back corner for Big Baby, Nate Robinson, Jonathan Papelbon and Meriweather. A table with easy access to the bathroom for Shaq, Jason Varitek, Tim Wakefield, Mark Rechhi and Tim Thomas. You had Dice K sitting next to Delonte West and Gerard Warren (mostly just for comedic value). The rest of the players and coaches were scattered randomly about.

Dinner was provided by the good people over at Aramark.

During the meal, Orsillo moderated a group discussion on the crazy year that was in Boston. The Pats talked about the disaster against Baltimore, the drama with Randy, and how ridiculous it feels to go from middle of the pack to king of the hill in a matter of months. The Celtics talked about the pain of Game Seven, and how it still pushes them every day. The Red Sox talked about relevance. How strange it was to have fallen out of favor last year, and how this season it already feels so different. And will be. The Bruins talked about just wanting to win. About how frustrated they were with the current state of the team, but that, on the bright side, at least they were invited to the party. A few years back they would've been standing outside bitching with the Revolution about what a jerk the bouncer is. But now, positive.

In fact, everyone was positive. It made you realize, once again, how good Boston has it. And that even though this year's had its ups and downs it's been a rebirth of sorts. In one year, the city completed the world's fastest rebuilding process. Everyone was well aware, and very grateful.

Then they all danced. Everyone. Even Dane Fletcher.

Now it was 11:59, and sadly, almost time for the party to end. But as we watched the seconds tick down on open bar, John Henry suddenly hopped on stage and screamed, "Hey! How about we extend this thing 'til 1 a.m.!?!" The party erupted, as Henry tossed a large bag of cash at the bar manager. And then, just as suddenly, Jeremy Jacobs grabbed the mic himself and yelled, "Orrrrr, how about we extend it to . . . 1:15!?" There were a few murmurs as Jacobs politely tucked 60 into the manager's pocket.

And so it went. The Party of the Year.

Or at least that's how I imagined it while procrastinating on my naughty and nice list.

Happy Holidays!

Rich Levine's column runs each Monday, Wednesday and Friday on CSNNE.com. Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

Isaiah Thomas continues to claim Celtics' franchise records

Isaiah Thomas continues to claim Celtics' franchise records

BOSTON – This continues to be a historic season for Isaiah Thomas as more records fell in Wednesday’s 103-100 loss to Milwaukee, and the company he’s keeping becomes even more exclusive. 

Thomas had a game-high 32 points on Wednesday which included five made 3’s on nine attempts. That gave him 223 for the season which is a new franchise single-season record for made 3-pointers. The previous record was 222 set by Antoine Walker during the 2001-2002 season.

And his 32 points scored gives him 2,012 this season. 

Only six players in franchise history (Paul Pierce was the last to do it during the 2005-2006 season) have scored 2,000 or more points in a single season. 

Oh, there’s more. 

With Wednesday being the 66th time this season he has had 20 or more points, Thomas has now tied Pierce (2005-2006) and Larry Bird (1985-1986; 1987-1988) for sixth on the Celtics’ single-season franchise list. 

“I didn’t even know that,” a visibly disappointed Thomas said following Wednesday’s loss. “It doesn’t feel that good right now. But when I look back on it, probably in the offseason, I’ll appreciate it a little more. But I’m just staying in the moment and try and play as best I can to lead this team to as many wins as possible.”

Other season milestones Thomas is in the mix for include the following:

  • The 5-foot-9 guard is one of three players this season to have 50 or more games of 25-plus points, joined by Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook (57) and Houston’s James Harden (54).
  • Thomas has made at least one 3-pointer in a franchise-record 50 straight games (Dec. 3 – March 29). That’s also the longest current streak in the NBA. 
  • With 66 games of 20 or more points this season, Thomas is second in the NBA to Westbrook (67).

Marcus Smart at center of yet another controversial call

Marcus Smart at center of yet another controversial call

BOSTON – One of the more bizarre plays in Boston’s 103-100 loss to Milwaukee came in the second quarter, requiring some explanation from the officials afterwards. 

With 3:55 to play in the second quarter, the officials had originally called a foul on Marcus Smart which he verbally protested that eventually led to him being whistled for a technical foul. 

After the officials reviewed the play, they changed the call to a personal foul against Khris Middleton but no change to the called technical foul against Smart who objected to a call that, upon review, they agreed was the wrong call to make. 

Official Sean Corbin, through pool reporter Ken Powtak of the Associated Press, acknowledged that the original call was a loose ball foul against Smart. 

“The (officiating) crew got together, we met prior to video and we decided that we needed to look at video because both players were on the floor bleeding so we went to the video for a hostile act,” Corbin told Powtak. “In the review we noticed that Khris Middleton initially made contact to Marcus Smart’s face. That’s how the original contact to the play occurred.”

Fortunately for the Celtics, Middleton missed his technical free throw while Smart split a pair of free throws which cut Milwaukee’s lead to 49-40.

Still, that’s no consolation for Smart who was whistled for a technical foul on a play that the official acknowledged was the wrong call to make. 

In the fourth quarter, Smart was at the center of yet another controversial call that was also reviewed by the officials. The verdict wasn't nearly as good for Smart who was whistled for a flagrant foul after getting his feet tangled up with Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo who was called for a non-shooting foul in the play with 4:46 to play. 

Antetokounmpo made one of two free throws and on the Bucks' ensuing possession, he was called for traveling.

Smart was unavailable to talk after the game in part because the aforementioned incident left an abrasion to his mouth and, because of the technical foul, a little lighter in the wallet as well.