This is the first portion of an interview Celtics Hub had the privilege of conducting with Celtics TV play by play announcer Mike Gorman. Mike has been the C’s TV play by play man since 1981. He also blogs about the team and answers a mailbag for CSN as well over at csnne.com. The next portion of the interview will be up at Celtics Hub tomorrow.
Before we get to the interview itself, I have to give a bit of a backstory of this. All Celtics fans know how spoiled we are to have Mike as our PBP guy. He has great pipes, make terrific moments even more memorable with his calls and is an knowledgeable and perceptive as they come in this business.
Now with all this said, Mike generally comes across as a great guy on screen with a genuine personality, but I didn’t know the extent of this until I ran into him at Celtics media day back in September. Ok, maybe seeing him from a distance, and strategically slowing down in the parking lot so our paths would cross would be a better way of describing our encounter. In any case, I approached Mike and he was more than happy to discuss the C’s for a couple minutes before taking off for the time being. I politely asked him if he would ever be available for an interview and he said not a problem and gave me his email address before we parted ways.
Fast forward to 2 months later, when I email Mike, rehash our story, holding out hope he remembers me. Sure enough gets back to me shortly, suggesting a couple times he might be available. Once I talk to him, we proceed to talk Celtics for more than a half hour. To give you an idea of how insightful Mike is and how great of an interview he was, he covered all the questions I planned to ask….and I didn’t even have to ask half of them. They just naturally came up within the course of his responses. In any case I can’t thank Mike enough for taking the time out of his busy schedule for us here at Celtics Hub.
I also implore you to read the full interview, not for my sake but for yours. It’s on the longer side, but the substance stays strong all the way through. You will know a lot more about the inner workings of this team by the end of it. I know i did. For part one, Mike talks about TA’s and KG’s injury and how it can affect the mental aspects of their games. Also why Marquis Daniels will be out longer than we think, does this team have Championship chemistry, and perhaps most importantly, who is the biggest threat to the C’s in the East? The answer may surprise you.
Brian Robb: Talk a little bit about Tony Allen. No one in Boston was expecting much out of the guy after an inconsistent past 2 seasons as he seemed to have lost his confidence. I had been a defender of TA up until last year when he forced me to jump off the wagon. This year however, he has been a nice sparkplug off the bench. What have you seen from Tony? Do you think he can keep this up on a consistent basis and still be an asset, even when Marquis Daniels returns from injury?
Mike Gorman: I’d like to think he can, and hope he can. I like Tony and like to think he has gone through a lot of crap, so I’d like to see him be the player again that he was a couple years ago, before he went down the first time with injury. He put together a great stretch of games that made you think he could be a big time contributor to this team.I still think he can
I think what has happened with Tony that…….I’ve heard other players talk about this, is that the body heals before the mind thinks it does. So Doc and trainer are saying your good to go, you can put as much pressure on that knee on ankle as needed. You as the player though who had that moment when you blew out your knee or ankle, are still suspect, and are still treating that injured appendage with 10 or 20 percent caution all the time.
I think KG went through the same thing, for the first 10-12 games of this season but has gotten over it recently and looks much more like the KG of 2 years ago. You can see it in his rebounding numbers, which are way up.
It’s unclear when I think Tony now has gotten himself to the point when he believes in his body again. So he can just go out now and play. And when does that, he’s the player that we both like a lot. He is a great defender and still is gonna be one of those guys that fill out the entire stat sheet, including the turnover column. That’s kind of just who he is. The fact he has a couple steals, scored six points, and played great defense might make you live with those two turnovers he also had.
Doc has told me, and told Tony that if you defend, and don’t turn the ball over, you will get minutes. I think that’s where Tony is right now. He is the most aggressive defender on the floor when he is in the game. Even though he does find himself sometimes being the psuedo point guard here and there on the floor, he has played through those stretches well thus far, not turning the ball over and making good places.
So to go back to your original question, I think it’s an embarrassment of riches for the C’s when Marquis comes back, but I think Marquis is going to take a little bit longer to come back than anyone is expecting. Tony is going to have a lot of time and Big Baby is going to have a lot of time to establish some minutes.
Doc is just in a great situation since the team is so deep. There are going to be a lot of guys fighting for playing time. Doc hasn’t played Shelden Williams much lately but he has been playing well 90 percent of the time he was on the floor. it’s going to be hard to take his minutes away.
And certainly Marquis, until it was obvious the thumb was a real problem. I didn’t realize for those first 10-12 games how much better of a player Marquis was, than i thought he was by just watching him maybe twice a year. So getting back to the original question, yes I think he can back to where he was a couple years ago and that make this basketball team even more dangerous.
B Robb: It’s nice that the Celtics with this depth, they will be able to have Marquis take as much time as he needs to get that thumb and wrist completely right, before he comes back for the stretch drive.
M Gorman: Yeah, I mean it’s all about being ready to play in April and May. I think that is what Marquis wants to do is get completely right now that he is in the cast and be healthy and playing well once the playoffs start.
The rest of the guys though, I think the focus is on a week to week basis. They can’t be thinking about May and June right now, they have to be thinking about the west coast trip next week. That was one of the things I enjoyed about the Championship team from 2 years ago. Whenever one of the writers would come up to The Big Three and ask about the playoffs in January, their reply was not being worried about the playoffs and instead enjoying the process of going out every night and beating people, being one of the elite teams in the league. That was a great characteristic about that team, not looking ahead and one I think holds true for this current one as well.
B Robb: Do you see those Championship characteristics a lot in this team? I heard last year, there was some behind the scenes turmoil with Rondo calling team meetings. It appears the new pieces have meshed well thus far with Rasheed and company. Do you see the focus there? It seems especially apparent on the road, just the business like aspect of going out and taking care of teams with minimal sloppy play and turnovers. Do you see that drive back?
M Gorman: I do. One of things I remember very clearly about the 80’s Championship teams that struck me is that those teams enjoyed winning on the road almost even more than winning at home. They liked going into buildings and silencing crowds and frustrating other teams that wanted to defend their home court and couldn’t. I see that in this team too. They are focused on the road and have a bit of a swagger when they play away from home.
Rasheed has made a seamless transition to this team off the court. He’s not what you might expect, very quiet, always has headphones on the plane watching movies, likes to talk about his kids. I didn’t know what to expect but I didn’t expect a quiet guy, but that’s what he is off the court. Marquis Daniels is also a very quiet guy that keeps to himself as is Shelden Williams. Those 3 guys have kind of taken their seats on the plane and drifted into the background.
At the core of the team, it’s KG’s team and it will always be his team, that’s just who he is. I think Paul is comfortable with that as is Ray. They are The Big Three, but it’s really the big one. And everyone is comfortable with that.
I think why the harmony level was in flux last year is because KG wasn’t with the team. Without him, the team had to develop a different personality and now that he is back, the team can stand on that again. i just think that’s now for the better. Before the season, the team said anything less that a Championship would be a disappointment and I don’t think I’ve seen anything in these first 25 or so games that would suggest otherwise. They’re better than everyone else.
B Robb: That creates a pretty easy transition here to my next question for you. Who do you think is the biggest threat to the Celtics in the east? You have Atlanta who came in here early this year and really just took care of business in a W against the C’s. Orlando also won at the Garden as well but that seemed to be a byproduct of a poor shooting night more than anything else. Cleveland still appears to be in flux with their new personnel and the C’s showed a lot by going in there on opening night and winning for the first time in 3 years in that building. Given all that, do you see Atlanta just behind Orlando as the next biggest threat to the C’s right now?
M Gorman: I think the biggest threat to the Celtics is the Atlanta Hawks and not Orlando. I think Cleveland has personnel issues and will continue to have personnel issues. I also think the idea of Lebron leaving becomes a bigger distraction as the season goes by. I think Orlando doesn’t make it to the finals last year if the Celtics have KG. I think the C’s beat them if they have him.
Atlanta though is a entire different story. This is the 4th straight year when they will have an improved their record. They have a very good young core of players that have playing for awhile now together. Very athletic teams give the C’s problems and the Hawks fill that bill. I think with their win in Boston gave them a lot of confidence earlier this year that they can play with this team on the road. So if their is one team you don’t want to see in the playoffs right now if your The Boston Celtics, I think it’s the Hawks.
B Robb: Wow. Strong points. I think an interesting thing about the Hawks is how a lot of people forgot that despite the Hawks being swept by the Cavs last year, how devastated they were by injuries during that series. People forgot how good this team can be at full strength in this year’s preseason projections and how good their core is at full strength and how well they can play together.
M Gorman: Absolutely, i mean Joe Johnson is playing for a contract, Jamal Crawford has been a nice pickup off the bench. It’s entertaining because the Hawks want to come out and beat you 115-110 every night. Defense or a lack thereof could ultimately catch up with The Hawks during playoff time, but they have a lot of guys who can score a lot of points. They will be a tough out for whomever they play in May.
Check back with Celtics Hub tomorrow for Part 2 of the interview where Mike talks about the Nate Robinson rumors, Celtics team needs, rebounding problems, Boston’s new found appeal to NBA players and much much more. Don’t miss it.