Tag Archives: Boston Celtics

St. Patrick’s Day ‘All Irish’ Irish All Stars

15 Mar

Marty Conlon

I have serious business to discuss: the inaugural Kings of Maroussi “All Irish” Irish All Star team in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. Before I do that, I want to get something off my chest. The “Fighting Irish” of Notre Dame is an offensive nickname. We’re not belligerent people. So the next guy who tries to defend the nickname in my presence is getting a punch in the face.

The only “rule” to my Irish All Stars is they must have a connection to Maroussi. Let’s start with the front court. I was prepared to spend long days digging through dusty files at Maroussi team headquarters looking for some evidence of Irishmen. But then my mom said “Look on the Internet, ya eejit.”

Thanks Ma! Turns out two celebrated Irishmen played for Maroussi during the 2001-02 season. None other than Pat Burke and Marty Conlon. Yes, the same Mahhty Conl’n who played for the Boston Celtics (1996-97). The Celts went 15-67 that year. Irregahdless.

Burke averaged 14 points and 9.8 rebounds per game for Maroussi. The following year, he joined the Orlando Magic, becoming the first Irish-born player to play in the NBA (wiping tears from eyes as I write). He later played for the Phoenix Suns (2005-07). The 6-foot-11 center grew up in the United States.

The Bronx-born Conlon averaged 11 ppg and 6 rpg as Burke’s teammate in Maroussi, which made it to the Greek Cup final that season. The 6-foot-10 power forward came to Greece after playing nine seasons (that’s a lot) in the NBA. Both Conlon and Burke have captained the Irish National Team.

Let’s round out the front court with Patrick Fitzgerald O’Bryant Jr. The 7-footer played for the Celtics (2008-09), too. (Coulda’ben mayah with that friggin name!) The Maroussi connection? O’Bryant played in Greece this season for Kavala, which signed would-be Maroussi forward Travis Garrison after FIBA slapped a ban on Maroussi signing international transfers. Garrison was in Athens when the ban came down. For further Irish-O’Bryant reading, see this 2008 story from the Worcester T&G.

Technically, that’s two centers and a power forward, but who cares.

Ok, the back court is a little tricker. After an exhaustive analysis (Google search) to find an Irish connection to Zack Wright — O’Wright? — I came up empty. Ditto Dionte (Mc)Christmas and Nick “Seamus” Calathes. Marcus (O’)Hatten? Nope.

No worries. Bryan Mullins will handle the point guard duties. The pride of Southern Illinois University worked out for Celtics and the Chicago Bulls after the 2009 NBA draft. He now plays in France and has played for the Irish National team.

Jermaine Turner (photo: Scoring Factory)

Finally, did you think I’d forget Jermaine Turner? He averages 23 points and 18 rebounds per game for Killester in the Irish league. He grew up in NYC but married an Irish woman. They have two daughters and live in Ireland, where he also coaches.

Mullins and Turner know where Greece is on a map — lots of Americans don’t — so they get a waiver to join the team.

Billy Donovan will serve as player-coach. His tailored suit actually has a zipper down the side, and he’ll wear his uniform underneath. He will sink a bunch of 3-pointers, just like during his playing days at Providence College, where he was Conlon’s teammate for one season.

Erin Go Bragh!

Preview: This one ‘winnable’ (sort of)

2 Mar

Maroussi players celebrating in 2001

In 2007, when the Boston Celtics lost 18 consecutive games, they saw Milwaukee on the schedule, followed by a tough road trip. The Celtics beat the Bucks 117-97 and Paul Pierce said: “We definitely eyed this game.”

Peristeri is Maroussi’s Milwaukee. Peristeri is on a four-game losing streak and is 6-12 overall after starting the season 5-2. Like Maroussi, Peristeri is having financial problems. Three of its top players left the squad. Sound familiar?

Maroussi (0-18) visits its crosstown rival tomorrow night, hosts Panathinaikos (16-2) next week, followed by a trip to Rhodes to face Kolossus (13-5). Maroussi then finishes its season against three clubs in playoff contention.

Maroussi is winless but this is really only Game 2 for the reconfigured squad, playing without four veteran starters who left for greener pastures (i.e. steady paychecks). Their 17-year-old center, Lampros Tsontzos, played 32 minutes last week.

Meanwhile, the flu made its way through the lineup early this week, limiting coach Nikos Linardos‘ ability to prepare the black-and-yellow.

Still, this one is winnable. First, Peristeri doesn’t have a wide-body center the likes of Zisis Sarikopoulos, the muscular 7-footer for Panionios who scored 17 points (8 of 10) in 14 minutes against Maroussi two weeks ago. Peristeri’s Sotirios Manolopoulos, despite his size (6-foot-10), prefers launching 3-pointers (8 of 28 past four games) to grinding in the paint.

Peristeri has been out-rebounded in all four games of its current losing streak. Maroussi, despite losing last week, pulled down 30 rebounds to Rethymno’s 28.

Peristeri’s top scorer Charalampos Giannopoulos (12 ppg) can do a little of everything. The 22-year-old had a career game five weeks ago in an 81-69 victory. He scored 32 points (6 of 7 from 3-point range). He’s slowed down during the current skid. In the past two weeks, he’s 0 for 7 from downtown.

Connecticut alum Gavin Edwards (9.5 ppg, 5 rpg) is connecting on 64 percent of his shots. Giannopoulos and Edwards, 24, are capable of getting the the foul line if their jumpers aren’t falling.

Realistically, though, Maroussi will need continued stellar play from its back court of Lefteris Akepsimaidis (18 points, 7 assists last week) and Giannis Demertzis (16 points, 6 assists). And they’ll need help from newcomer Andreas Kanonidis, (15 points, 5 rebounds last week) and Vagel Sakellariou (15 points).

Ex-Celtics Giddens, O’Bryant leave Greece

29 Feb

Former NBA first-round draft picks J.R. Giddens and Patrick O’Bryant — both of whom played for the Boston Celtics — have left their Greek clubs. Giddens had surgery in the United States to repair his injured left wrist. O’Bryant plans to play in Puerto Rico.

Giddens, 27, averaged 8 points and 5.6 rebounds per game for PAOK in Thessaloniki. Like Maroussi, PAOK has major financial problems. Giddens almost left the team earlier this winter in a payment dispute, but the sides patched things up.

The swingman, selected 30th overall by the Celtics in the 2008 NBA draft, tweeted that he had surgery on his left wrist last Friday. The Celtics traded Giddens, a New Mexico alum, to the New York Knicks in February 2010.

O’Bryant left Kavala to take more money ($14,000 per month, according to www.basketnet.gr) in Puerto Rico, where he plans to sign with Mayaguez. The 7-footer was the Greek league’s top shot-blocker (1.5 per game) and averaged 9.6 points and 6 rebounds per game.

After playing Sunday, he tweeted: “Just played my last game as a Greek. Love this country. Except the refs. Takin my talents to Puerto Rico now.”

The Celtics signed O’Bryant to a 2-year, $3 million contract before the 2008-09 season. He was traded to the Toronto Raptors in February 2009. O’Bryant was the 9th overall pick in the 2006 NBA draft, selected by the Golden State Warriors. He’s an alum of Bradley University.

Coach: I’m here ‘until the end’

10 Feb

Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers has described his team’s franchise-record 18-game losing streak in 2007 as “hell.” Maroussi coach Nikos Linardos can relate. His team is 0-15 and players are jumping ship because they’ve been underpaid for months.

Yannis Gagaloudis and coach Nikos Linardos

Linardos, however, isn’t giving up. There are 10 games remaining, including at PAOK in the northern city of Thessaloniki tomorrow evening. “I have to fight with my players until the end,” he said after a team practice Thursday night.

The 48-year-old coach is well-respected in Greece. He was an assistant for Maroussi for much of the past decade, when the club was in the elite class with Olympiakos and Panathinaikos. Back then, ownership threw lots of money at the team, but not now.

Two starters have left because they weren’t getting paid on time — or in full. Linardos, like his players, had been assured before the season that the financial problems would be resolved. They haven’t.

Linardos played for the Greek national team that won the 1987 EuroBasket championship. Greece defeated the Soviet Union 103-101 in overtime for the gold. US-born Nick Galis averaged 37 ppg for Greece in the tournament, which is credited with reviving interest in basketball in Greece.

Red Auerbach and the Celtics drafted Galis out of Seton Hall in 1979, a year after selecting Larry Bird. He hurt his ankle in training camp, was released and never played in the NBA, but he’s a legend in Greece, where he played from 1979 to 1994.


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