Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Celtics Hire Schottenheimer As Head Coach

On Monday, San Diego Chargers president Dean Spanos fired Marty Schottenheimer as the team’s head coach. The move resulted primarily due to Scottenheimer’s dysfunctional relationship with general manager A.J. Smith. However, the coach was not out of a job for long. Today, the downtrodden Boston Celtics hired Schottenheimer as their new head coach.

Schottenheimer replaces Doc Rivers, who was demoted to an assistant position rather than fired. Executive director of basketball operations Danny Ainge felt that keeping the former coach around would benefit Marty, who is accustomed to being in charge of a guy named Rivers. Schottenheimer jumped at the opportunity to coach the Celtics, since he’s been spent the past month wishing he could have seen a New England team lose. He is hoping that Chargers star LaDainian Tomlinson will watch his new team play, since there is no danger that LT will have to witness an excessive victory celebration.

The Boston roster has many familiar elements for the new coach. The Celtics include Delonte West, while San Diego is in the AFC West. Gerald Green will compete in this weekend’s NBA Slam Dunk Contest, while the Chargers also showcase a Jammer (Quentin). San Diego tight end Antonio Gates, a former Kent State hoops player, has something in common with the entire Celtics roster. His days of playing competitive basketball are in the past.

Other elements of the NBA franchise are reminiscent of San Diego. The Celtics have already lost 21 home games at TD Banknorth Garden. Marty habitually associates the number 21 with the letters TD. At times, Boston’s Paul Pierce is a lights-out shooter, while Charger Shawne Merriman is called “Lights Out” and shoots up. As for the Celtics’ familiar leprechaun mascot, Schottenheimer will go from a Merriman to a merry man.

Currently on an 18-game losing streak, Boston’s numerous shortcomings are familiar to the new coach. Last week, Schottenheimer saw defensive coordinator Wade Phillips leave to become the Dallas Cowboys’ head coach. Like the Chargers, the Celtics wish they could have a guy named Wade. In December, Boston failed to land Allen Iverson, who wound up with the Nuggets. Marty knows all about feeling disappointment after losing out to a Denver team. The Celtics’ last championship in 1986 does diverge from the Super Bowl-deprived coach. That Boston team was coached by K.C. Jones and featured Robert “Chief” Parish. With Schottenheimer, the K.C. Chiefs were not able to win a title.

Most NBA observers do not expect Schottenheimer to reverse the Celtics’ fortunes, as “Marty Ball” seemingly will lead to more defeats. Under this strategy, the Boston players will stay on the ground during the fourth quarter, rarely choosing to pass the ball. Skeptics claim that the team is intentionally courting losses in order to maximize its opportunities in the NBA draft lottery, seeking to land Greg Oden or Kevin Durant. However, there is no guarantee that the ping pong balls will go the Celtics’ way. With Marty around, those balls might even be fumbled away by Ernest Byner.

Schottenheimer will make his NBA coaching debut on Wednesday, when the Celtics host the Milwaukee Bucks. It remains to be seen how the Boston fans will receive him, but they do agree with Marty on one thing. They hate that the Lombardi Trophy is in Indy.