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TODAY’S COLUMN: …Red Auerbach and a lot more..…..  Please scroll down to see FINE IDEAS below…..Scott delves into LSU and the Saints.  See WIZARDRY OF OS BELOW.
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Will Zach Edey lead Purdue to its third Final Four in school history this year?  The 1968-69 team, led by Rick Mount, advanced to the NCAA Championship game, before falling to coach John Wooden’s UCLA team, featuring Lew Alcindor (now Kareem Abdul-Jabbar).  Ironically enough, the Wizard of Westwood, Wooden, had played his college ball at Purdue.  The 1979-80 Purdue team was also eliminated by UCLA, this time in the national semi-finals.  This latter Purdue team not only brings back fond memories for Boiler fans, but Boston Celtics supporters owe a debt of gratitude to this team, particularly its star player.
Joe Barry Carroll was a can’t miss NBA player, or so it was thought in 1980.  Red Auerbach, the Celtics nonpareil General Manager (and former coach) thought differently.  Auerbach fleeced the Golden State Warriors, trading the Celtics number one overall pick for Robert Parish and the Warriors number three overall pick.  The Warriors selected Carroll.  The Celtics selected Kevin McHale.  Trivia question:  2nd overall pick, taken between Carroll and McHale? The Utah Jazz chose Darrell Griffith from Louisville.
Carroll ended up having a nondescript NBA career and was, ignominiously, nicknamed Joe Barely Cares.  The Celtics largely won 3 NBA titles and were NBA Finalists 2 other seasons in the 1980s in great part due to this trade and other crafty maneuverings by Auerbach.
The Celtics chose Larry Bird in the 1978 NBA Draft, after Bird’s junior season, with the fifth pick of the draft.  The problem for the rest of the league was that, at the time, only seniors were drafted.  Yet, Auerbach felt that the NBA rules allowed him to draft Bird after his junior season and retain his rights after his college eligibility expired.  This was upheld by the league.  Bird would lead Indiana State to the 1979 national championship game in his senior season, before falling to Magic Johnson and Michigan State in the finals, perhaps the most celebrated game in the history of college basketball.  His career started with the Celtics in 1979.  Extra credit to those who remember that Bird enrolled at Indiana in the fall of 1974, could endure Bobby Knight for one month never suiting up at IU and dropped out of college, before resurrecting his career at Indiana State in 1976-77.
Throw in the Celtics signing Nate “Tiny” Archibald off the scrap heap in the 1978-79 season.  Plus, there was Dennis Johnson, acquired from the Phoenix Suns in 1983 with a first and third round pick for Rick Robey and 2 second round picks—another Auerbach pilfering.
The nucleus of the Celtics 80s run was comprised of Bird, Parish and McHale, as those three would lead the Celtics throughout the decade.  Tiny was the Celtics floor general for their 1980-81 championship team. .  DJ would be a major part of the latter 2 Celtics World Championships of the 1980s
Geriatric Celtics fans should not only be fans of the 1979-80 Purdue team, but the 1954-55 and 1955-56 San Francisco Dons national championship teams.  And, what gets somewhat lost by many is that the Celtics dynasty of the late 50’s/60’s was engineered as a result of another Auerbach deal made the night of the 1956 NBA Draft.  The Celtics traded Ed Macauley and Cliff Hagan to the St Louis Hawks. In exchange, they received the Hawks #2 overall pick, USF superstar Bill Russell.  Trivia question:  Bonus points for those that can identify the first overall selection in the 1956 NBA Draft.  That would be Si Green, out of Duquesne, picked by the Rochester Royals.
Interestingly, the Celtics owned a territorial pick in the 1956 draft, which preceded the selection of Green.  Boston used that pick on Tommy Heinsohn, out of Holy Cross.  He would go on to win the 1956-57 NBA Rookie of the year and proved to be a valuable member of those championship Celtics teams. 
Coached by Auerbach and led by Russell, the Celtics would go on to win 8 straight NBA championships and 9 in 10 seasons.  With Auerbach as the GM and Russell as player coach, the Celtics won 2 more titles.
Let me put the Jon Fine jinx on a couple of players, overshadowed by others on their teams, who could make significant contributions in the Big Dance.  When people talk about UCLA they first mention Jaime Jacquez, with honorable mention to Tyger Campbell.  Those are the Bruins big names and they are stars.  Yet, the player I really like on Mick Cronin’s team is freshman guard Amari Bailey.  He has superstardom written all over him—can shoot, handle, drive, play D and has outstanding athleticism…..sort of reminiscent of the good qualities of former Bruin Russell Westbrook.
Meanwhile, the clear leader at Alabama is Nick Saban…err…that was just a reflex reaction.  Freshman Brandon Miller is the Tide’s hoops phenom, playing for coach Nate Oats.  (Hey, I mentioned Saban, but do I redeem myself to Bama Bball fans for not mistakenly typing Bryce Young or Will Anderson, instead of Miller?)  Yet, in watching Alabama play, I am immediately drawn to the (this is extraordinarily premature) Bill Russell-like rim protector Charles Bediako.  Yes, Miller is the Tide’s superstar, but Bediako, a sophomore, might go down as an all-time great Alabama defensive player.  If he could refine his offensive game, look out.
If LSU wants to know one reason why they were the Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight this season, one only has to look at Baton Rouge natives starring elsewhere.  The Tigers would have looked a lot better if Jalen Cook (Tulane—a transfer from LSU where he never played), ACC Defensive Player of the Year Reece Beekman (at Virginia) and Jordan Wright (Vanderbilt) were wearing purple and gold in 2022-23.  Then again, if there is such a thing as being a student-athlete anymore, and these 3, are in fact, going to college not only to Hoop it up, but being academically-inclined as well, one can understand why these 3 are matriculating at their present universities.
A reader pointed out, validly, that the Baseball Hall of Fame does not enshrine stars from the college game.  So, my writing in last month’s column that Skip Bertman, LSU’s legendary coach, is a no-brainer to be inducted into Cooperstown, was not on-point.  Having said that, it is high-time that the Baseball Hall becomes like the Basketball Hall of Fame—which includes the college game, and starts to recognize college baseball greats.  Or, if not, then change its name to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame, as is done with the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  Having said that, if Baseball does start to include the college game, one would think that Rod Dedeaux, USC’s coaching great, and coach Bertman should be amongst the first to have their careers receive the ultimate immortalization with entrance into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
The 1959-60 Siena Saints Basketball team, which went 3-18, will never be mentioned with the all-time great teams.  In fact, it is just the opposite.  I thought of them and the 1976-77 Valley Stream (NY) South Falcons Basketball team when my EBay store, ArrestedDevelopmentMediaGuides, recently sold a copy of the Saints media guide from this season.  Here was the listing:
“Is Mr. AD a marketing genius or what? we put in big bold letters that this was the worst team in Siena Basketball history....A winning percentage of .143 (which makes Mario Mendoza look like Rod Carew!!), the worst in school history...3 wins, which matches 2 other Saints teams for least wins ever...Siena's been playing since 1938, we, that means at this listing (2016), they've hooped it up in Loudonville NY for roughly 79 years and this is the team that has set the mark for futility...Mr. AD hopes that some Siena sports fan buys it for its novelty value...or some Siena athletics official buys it so that it is removed from the public domain!!...........Disclosure: Mr. AD sat on a HS Bball team that went 2-17..a .105 winning percentage...meaning, on our level, we were worse than 59-60 Siena! VS South--76-77--still #1!!”
A sad irony…A loyal reader of this column , Temi Adelman, decried in late January  that I was spending too much time writing about Football and not enough on her favorite sport, Basketball.  Last month’s column was devoted entirely to Hoops.  Temi never got to read it as she succumbed to cancer three days before this column was written.  What a terrific lady!  I was privileged to know her and be her friend.  I’m closest to the Adelmans more so than any other family.  She led a remarkable life in which she overcame a difficult childhood to become accomplished in so many ways. Temi, now joining her husband—the late, great Milton Adelman--rest in peace.
My responsibilities for our Denham Springs HS Football radio broadcasts include conducting pre-game and half-time interviews.  After finding out late in the 2022 season that Shirley Carlisle had been largely responsible for paving the way for DSHS building new Baseball and Softball fields, I asked Shirley if she would come on for an interview.  She agreed to be on during the next home game.  Well circumstances dictated that I schedule other guests on what turned out to be the season finale.  I decided I would contact Shirley and let her know she would be my number 1 interview priority in 2023.  In my never-ending battle with procrastination, I never did make that call.  Shirley died of a heart attack in late February. She was, if not the First Lady of Denham Springs HS Football, near the top of the list.  Shirley’s husband, Lootie, was a terrific man and an all-time DSHS educator and coaching great.  Like her husband, Shirley was a great educator and stayed heavily involved in Denham Springs HS well after her retirement.  Shirley I wish I would have made that call.  But Jackets fans will have one more supporter in the sky in 2023.
Go Jackets!
By Scott Osborne

I hate to be optimistic, especially when it comes to the New Orleans Saints.  To be honest, I am less optimistic about than Saints and more optimistic about the lack of competition in the NFC South. 
I don’t care what anyone thinks about Derek Carr, he is better than any other quarterback in the division as of today.  Last year with the Raiders was bad, but the Raiders are the Raiders and their issues went well beyond Derek Carr.  The reality is that Carr’s numbers from 2019-2021 are on par with the better quarterbacks in the league.  There are many reasons to believe that he will return to those numbers.
Obviously, Alvin Kamara is going to miss some time and the Saints have to improve at running back.  Fortunately, this draft is deep at running back.   If the Saints can get a bigger running back in free agency, I would love to see the Saints get Tyjae Spears or Deuce Vaughn in the draft.
This next statement might be obvious, but Michael Thomas is either coming back to ball out this year or his career is over.  I cannot see a middle road.  If his career is over, then the Saints will be the same on offense as they have been the last three years.  If he balls out, then the Saints have Thomas and Olave as an excellent 1-2 punch.  If Rashid Shaheed continues to develop, then the receiving corps is back to being a strength of the team.
All of that may be a stretch, but Tampa is going to go with Kyle Trask or Baker Mayfield.  Atlanta is riding with Tyler Heinicke or Desmond Ridder.  None of those quarterbacks have me worried and I would choose Derek Carr over all of them. 
Carolina will draft Stroud, Young, Levis, or Richardson.  If they draft Levis or Richardson, I will breathe a sigh of relief.  I believe Stroud and Young will be good, but it will take some time.
 The Saints roster is flawed and it will take some off season free agent and drafting genius to fix most of the issues.  Keep in mind, the team played undisciplined and beat themselves with penalties and turnovers this year.  There is no reason to think that won’t happen again this year.  Still, the rosters of Atlanta, Carolina, and Tampa aren’t much better and certainly not better at the most important position.
Coming back to teams that are in season, LSU baseball is going to give us one heck of a ride this year.  We are back to a situation where the success of this team cannot be measured in the regular season.  At LSU, when you have teams like this one, their success will be measured in the postseason.  It is not fair, but it is reality.
Women’s basketball could also go for a ride this postseason.  The combination of Alexis Morris and Angel Reese are as good as any in the country.  More than their talent, both are ultra competitive and elevate their level of play when it is needed the most.  In the Big Dance, though, you always need some role players to elevate their game.  Carson is going to need to have a game or two where she hits some threes.  Williams and Smith are going to have to finish around the goal when Reese draws double teams. 
The good news is that all of these things have happened at points throughout the season.  The key now is that they happen over the next 2-3 weeks.  Mix the leadership of this team with the talent and outstanding coaching, and I look forward to seeing this team make a Final Four run.