What Boston did on its summer vacation


What Boston did on its summer vacation

By Rich Levine

I realize that there are a lot of people out there who love the fall.

They love everything about it the cooler air, the warmer clothes, the foliage. In fact, the only thing these people love more than fall is talking about how much they love it. Seriously, at least 37 of my Facebook friends have declared their affection for fall since I started typing this sentence.

I get it. Everyone loves fall.

Everyone but me, that is. For me, the end of summer only means one thing winter's right around the corner. It means that before we know it the sidewalks will be slush, the traffic will suck (even more), and I'll look out my window at 4:30 p.m. to the glare of headlights. Get ready. Here it comes.

And here we are. The end of summer; the first day of fall. I think the only person in Boston more depressed than I am right now is the dude who wears the big Scal face to the Garden.

But as much as I hate the change, I won't mind turning the page on what was a uninspiring summer for Boston sports.

Sure, there were highlights. The Bruins drafted Tyler Seguin. David Ortiz won the Derby. Clay Buchholz figured it out. Wes Welker defied modern medicine. The Celtics brought back Doc Rivers, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, and signed Shaquille O'Neal. I mean, this isn't Cleveland, we were bound to have some good news. But for the most part, the summer was subpar at best.

We had the Red Sox disintegrate right before our eyes, and they didn't even get a fair fight, thanks to a rash of debilitating injuries that you wouldn't wish upon the Jets (OK, you would). The Sox spent the summer slowly dying. They toyed with our emotions, consistently showing just enough life to stop us from pulling the plug, and despite all the glaring clues that this wasn't the year, we kept giving them second, third and fourth chances to make something of the season. We looked at the schedule and saw opportunity. We continued to hope that John Lackey or Josh Beckett, or God forbid, both would show up down the stretch. We married ourselves to the "Hey, who knows? Anything can happen" mentality and convinced ourselves they had a chance. But without Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis or Jacoby Ellsbury, not to mention the real Beckett and Lackey, they never did.

By the middle of summer, the Ellsbury saga became a dark cloud over an already overcast season. I still can't believe how that all played out. Really, could you have ever imagined that collision with Adrian Beltre would create such a domino effect of disaster? Ellsbury was one of the most likable, and certainly the most exciting player on that team. This was the year he made the leap. He should have been an All-Star. Instead he became a distraction. He pissed off his teammates. He pissed off the organization. He was pissed at the organization. He played in a total of 18 games!

It was a lost season for Ellsbury; a lost season for the Sox. And without them, the Boston summer can't reach its full potential.

But that wasn't all we dealt with.

There was Rajon Rondo's divorce from Team USA, which in the long run won't be a bad thing, but was an unsettling story from start to finish.

Was it really his choice to leave? If not, why didn't he make the team? Was it his ability or his attitude? A combination?

I don't think many Celtics fans have a problem with Rondo not playing in Turkey. There's no question that he'll be fresher for the start of the season than he would've been after three extra weeks overseas. But, at the same time, once Rondo made the commitment to play, don't you wish he could've just gotten along with everyone?

That's not to say he should've gone, become best friends with all the guys and then spent next season playing kissy face on the court. That's not the case at all. The no-nonsense approach Rondo takes to his life in the NBA is one of his greatest attributes. None of that should change.

But still, it would have been nice to see Rondo fit in with Team USA. To have him go over, play his ass off, be a great teammate, learn from Chauncey Billups or even Kevin Durant, and then listen to Coach K and Jerry Colangelo gush over him all year. But it never clicked. For one reason or another it wasn't meant to be.

There's no doubt that Rondo's maturity has sky-rocketed over the past four years, but this summer showed us that whether it's his game, his attitude or a combination he still has some work to do. I'm not judging that on the scale of your average NBA player. I'm talking about for an NBA star. That's the expectation now.

In other basketball news, the Miami Heat picked up LeBron James and Chris Bosh. That still hurts to type.

We spent the entire summer dealing with rumors about Tom Brady's less-than-cordial contract negotiations, and then Brady was nearly run over on Comm. Ave.

Subject: Brady car accident. Holy @

That's not an e-mail you ever want to wake up to. (Unless you enjoy having to change your sheets.)

Yeah, the contract eventually got done, and that's obviously the most important thing to remember. They figured it out, and Brady's here for another four years. But from far, far away, those negotiations felt off. It was strange to see Brady passive-aggressively voice his displeasure with the way everything was going. There was genuine emotion behind what he was saying. He was clearly upset.

We'd never really seen that before, and that weird tension played out for all of training camppreseason. At no point over the summer did you truly believe that Brady would leave, but for the first time, you could envision a day when he might leave. It's ridiculous to worry about that now, but it's still interesting. There was a time when you'd have bet your life that Tom Brady retires as a Patriot. I don't think you'd make that bet today.

Anyway, Brady's contract was followed by Moss' tirade, giving up on Maroney and the Jets game.

Oh, and did I mention that we spent the whole summer getting familiar with the impending NBA and NFL lockouts? Is that wearing on your conscious at all? It should be. And yesterday, summer bowed out quietly, by delivering the news that Kevin Faulk tore his ACL, Marc Savard might be out for the season and Brian Scalabrine's headed to Chicago.

It was one, or I guess, three swift gut punches from a season that never really panned out in Boston. And now it's finally dead.

The summer of 2010 is gone, and I can't believe I'm saying this thank God fall's finally here.

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.