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Endless Summer: Surfing the Net – Pat Boone, Celtic basketball and Rosen’s lists

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It is that time of year for Celtic fans. Hot, clammy, and no news of the Men in Green to be found under any rock.

So grab your surfboard, run some Pat Riley style Brylcreem through your hair ( ‘a little dab’ll do ya‘), and we’ll ride the internet in search of the perfect binary wave of Celtic basketball.

While Woodstock Nation got all nostalgic this week-end (including myself – I was 16 at the time, didn’t go, but knew it was a special event), I’ll take you even further back (1964 or 1966, depending on the site) to ride a reference to the semi-cultish documentary narrative of two surfers in search of the perfect wave - Endless Summer. That is what this summer now seems like, though the movie meant it in a good way.

While surfing the net in search of Celtic basketball, it is amazing where the undulating waves of technology will lead you.

How do we get from 1950′s teen heart throb, Pat Boone, his declining 1960s career, and surfers, to FoxSports’ Charlie Rosen, to Kendrick Perkins and a number of other Celtics?

Grab your board and catch the wave.

Pat Boone and Pro Basketball? – No way?……..way.

I’m not making this up. It turns out that Pat Boone loved basketball enough to buy two teams, the Hollywood Studio League team named the Cooga Moogas (Bill Cosby played on the team. I wonder if they had t-shirts made.), and then was the majority owner (honest to goodness) of an ABA team from Oakland called the Oakland Oaks. (Oldies like me will remember them.)    On top of that, the (mighty) Oaks won the ABA Championship in 1969! Way to go, Pat Boone.

There’s more. Pat also had a chance to buy into an NBA expansion named….. the Dallas Mavericks in 1981 and turned it down. To cop one of his hit R&B song covers… ain’t that a shame.

Back to Endless Summer. While Pat Boone, and his trademark white buckskin shoes, were doing the calm, mellotone voice to (I swear I remember him doing the narrative, but I can’t find a single confirmation) to the laid back, idyllic movie voyage, America was already moving past the simple pleasures and simpler symbols of coolness, hot rods and surfing. The movie was the finale to a simpler, pre-mature way of looking at life.

Political, social and cultural cauldrons, already bubbling and getting hotter by the year would soon spill into the American mainstream, cracking it wide open, and splintering it into many pieces, changing us all forever. Endless Summer was the unattainable and naive dream that preceded all that.

The next wave takes us to….lists.

August heat make make you listless, but writers will never be.

My internet surfing led me to a list that had a set of lists by one of Foxsports’ lead NBA basketball writers, Charlie Rosen.

The first list was Ball Don’t Lie’s Top 10 Rotation by Kelly Dwyer, where I had an article that referenced a ranking (list!) of votes for NBA Coach of the Year. The Ball Don’t Lie list also had a list of top defenders as anointed by Charlie Rosen. When I went to Charlie’s list, I also discovered another list of tough guys and softies by Mr. Rosen.

It was a list with lists leading to more lists. If M. C. Escher was a writer, he would do something like this.

Lists draw readers like moths to a light. We can’t help it. We need to see that list, even if it is just the top ten toothpastes. We have to crest that wave. We have to know. What if my brand is number one? It’ll put a little more swagger in my giddy up. That is a number one smile you’re staring at there, buddy.

As a device, using a rating, ranking or categorizing of people, places or things, people will be automatically drawn to it. We love to put things or people  in groups with labels and/or rank them. The only other thing more powerful (besides using the word sex) in a title is to use the word ‘secret.’  We want to know secrets. Even better, we want to know secrets they don’t want you to know about.

I’m guessing that using the phrase – ‘Secret List’ -as in say….the NBAs Secret List -  in a title, is so powerful, it must be approved by some writing commission somewhere. That simple two word phrase is the most powerful writing device known to man.

Charlie Rosen can be a little over the top at times. But I’ll let you be the judge. Here are the Celtics and former Celtics on his top defenders list:

Kevin Garnett plays defense with more energy than any of his peers. Plus, his length and quickness offer so much help to his teammates that it often seems as though the Celtics have six defenders on the court.

(Nice to see he still respects the player he says is over rated in….yep…yet another list.)

Kendrick Perkins is rapidly becoming a space-eating, body-bumping defensive force in the shadow of the basket.

(First of two props for Kendrick.)

James Posey is sufficiently talented and mean-spirited to be able to put anybody’s offense in an escape-proof cage.

(Posey’s not quite that good anymore, if he ever was. But I’m a James Posey fan. Smart, clever, does things that don’t make the stats and was a great fit with the Cs.)

Rasheed Wallace can still force opponents to be continually aware of his presence whenever they’re looking to score in his neighborhood.

(Agreed.)

Delonte West is perhaps the most nasty-minded defender in the league. And that’s a compliment of huge proportions.

(One of my pre-trade favorite players/personalities. Glad to see him get some respect.)

It is interesting to see what he says about Dwight Howard’s defense…

Dwight Howard does block shots, but in his eagerness to do so, smart teams (like the Lakers) can run their offense in such a way that he’s lured out of shot-blocking position. Plus, opposing centers who are able to face up and go can usually find a driveable lane. I seem to recall that Pau Gasol ate Howard’s lunch in June.

(Rosen is right. But he changes options even for crafty players like Paul Pierce, when he is deep in that paint.)

In his other list -Tough Guys and Softies, here are the tough guy Celtics:

Tony Allen: Getting to the basket is his specialty, even at the potential cost of incurring bruises, sprains and even fractures.

Kendrick Perkins: He plays with a perpetual snarl that mirrors his body-bumping game plan.

KP gets props twice from Rosen. Ditto Posey. Ditto Delonte.

James Posey: For him, giving an inch on defense is like giving a mile.

Delonte West: In his own quiet way, West never gives up on a play and is never, ever intimidated.

Leon Powe: He’s another smallish big who believes that basketball is a collision sport.

There are no Celtics on the softies list but here are a few interesting takes:

Vince Carter: Watch how many fadeaway junk-shots he takes when approaching a crowd of hostile big men.

Kevin Martin: If he was just a mite tougher, he’d be a truly elite player.

Michael Beasley: He would rather put up a flipper than try to dunk over or through a nasty big man.

So, that’s it.  A fair amount of Celtics were mentioned. Rosen obviously likes D. West, Kendrick Perkins and James Posey. No Rajon Rondo as a top defender. No Kevin Garnett as tough guy. Maybe it’s all those point guards he tries to intimidate.

As our internet surfing adventure rolls to shore, we hit the beach and wait for a list of the top ten reasons they don’t want you to know about why Marquis Daniels is taking so long to sign.

What’s that? Which list should Pat Boone be on? That’s easy. Early on he was a softie and every mother’s choice for their daughter. But as he got older, he was definitely tough guy material.

Pat went heavy metal, upsetting many of his core fans and scoring some points of his own for the we-won’t-go-gentle-into-that-goodnight aging gang.

Endless summer is winding down. Soon the longest pro season in sports, the eternal NBA season, will finally begin.

Thomas Halzack

2 Responses

  1. halzack says:

    JB…..”I worked for the Oakland Oaks, by the way…. selling season ticket packages over the phone.”

    Too funny! I love it, JB.

    Yes, Rick Barry. Larry Brown and Doug Moe, too? And our own young JB manning the phones? That is great.

    Yeah, Pat Boone made a living covering R&B tunes from black writers and performers. His cleaned up versions were popular but snickered at by many. He did have many hits that were not covers. They even tried to develop Pat as a cleaned up James Dean type in the movie April Love.

    Another white kid did much the same early on. What was his name, now? Oh yeah, Elvis Presley. That tactic will never work. Hound dog (Big Mama Thornton) and….
    Just don’t step on my blue suede shoes! Oh wait, Carl Perkins was white.

    Actually recording covers of other performers songs was fairly common back then – but your point is well taken.

    AS Jethro Tull (Ian Anderson) would say, we’re just…Living In the Past.

    Thanks for sharing the memories, JB.

  2. JB says:

    Now that’s a great column….. I worked for the Oakland Oaks, by the way…. selling season ticket packages over the phone. It was the championship… 1968-69 season, with Rick Barry as the star and his father in law Alex Hannum as coach. The starting backcourt was future coaching legends; Larry Brown and Doug Moe.
    As for Boone, it wasn’t his fault, but the corrupt (payola era) record company management took hot R & B tunes within days of their release and had Boone cover them, virtually eliminating the air time for the legitimate Black performers/writers in certain markets. This usurping of the music from the talent lasted until the British invasion blew the cover off the wall….