Hayward’s injury opened new door for Celtics

New York

Gordon Hayward’s misshapen foot injury, a fractured left tibia, turned into a lucky break for everyone except him. His unavailability for this season after its opening 5 ½ minutes, created guaranteed ample opportunity and unavoidable responsibility for several seemingly celestial Celtics who seized the chance to gain inescapable recognition, advancing and accelerating the normal permissible process.

Nobody’s slightly surprised by the stack of skills exhibited by Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Terry Rozier (well, he may have caught the demi-clueless by surprise), or the leadership of musher Kyrie Irving.

But it’s positively stunning, by all accounts, to see a hastily reorganized team of toddlers — having four-fifths of last season’s lineup disassembled at Danny Ainge’s plant over the summer — harpooned by Hayward’s injury in Game 1, and still shell shocked in Game 2, dramatically recoup from such trauma to conquer the next 14 opponents, concluding with the defending champion Warriors as Hayward offered support behind the bench for the first time.

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This Knicks team one worth cheering for

New York
As you’re well aware, geezers like myself never stop clucking, oh-so fondly, about the good old days. The reason why they were so good, of course, is obvious; we were younger then, before terminal shit started to happen to family and friends and ourselves, when life was fun and games.
Well, not all fun.
As a devout Dodgers fan, and caring about little else, there was far more sadness in my youth than satisfaction. Year after year — 1947, ’49, ’52, ’53 — my beloved Bums lost to the Yankees in the World Series, or were abolished by the Phillies (1950) or Giants (1951) on the precipice of participating in the Fall Classic.
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Porzingis the man and in command

New York
In just two seasons and seven games on NBA soil, Kristaps Porzingis has perfected what I failed to figure out my whole career as a non-foreign correspondent; when engulfed in a commotion that would’ve been wise to distance myself from, I could’ve/should’ve covered my ass by simply stating, “Something was lost in translation.”
Who wouldn’t have believed that?
Probably only the same few certified cynics who didn’t believe Charles Barkley when he claimed to have been misquoted in (‘Outrageous’) his autobiography authored by Roy S. Johnson.
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Jordan rules don’t apply for Portis; Simmons truly something special

New York
My highlight of this young season occurred moments after the Cavaliers beat the Celtics in the opener. LeBron James and Kyrie Irving embraced and exchanged insincerities. While doing so, Kyrie, demonstrating he considering himself LeBron’s equal, rubbed the head of James, well-known for rubbing the heads of students and young players he’d just schooled. LeBron got the message five-by-five, and, in turn, rubbed Kyrie’s head. Before they disengaged, Kyrie rubbed LeBron’s head one last time.
I find it fascinating the Bulls suspended Bobby Portis eight games for punching Nikola Mirotic during their practice conflict. Funny, I don’t recall Michael Jordan getting so much as being sentenced to Phil Jackson’s Time Out chair for blackening Steve Kerr’s right eye during a practice skirmish.
Column castigator Frank Drucker decided Sunday and Monday were the Knick franchise’s two best back-to-back days since the two before Charles Dolan said to Gulf & Western, “Hey, my kid needs something to do.”
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Double teaming Porzingis a wise move; Refs giving Antetokounmpo star treatment

New York

Rather than risk being accused of copying Brad Stevens’ impeccable game plan, Kenny Atkinson seldom double-teamed Kristaps Porzingis, who went for 30 in Friday night’s blowout of the Nets. KP showed up in Boston flaunting two games of 32 and 31, and was held to two in the first half against double coverage. He notched another 10 after the undisputed verdict had been decided. I’m guessing Atkinson decided to hold off attacking KP with two bodies in case they meet in the playoffs.

Former Suns employees, Rick Welts (team president), Steve Kerr (GM), and Steve Nash (2-time MVP) all now work for the Warriors. That says it all about what it’s like having owner Robert Sarver as your boss.

I’m faced with a moral dilemma. If I came into 100-large, would I buy 200 pairs of Lonzo Ball sneakers or one mayor of New York City?

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Time to do right by veteran ABA players; Slick Rick looks a beaten man

New York
What do Markelle Fultz (76ers, 2017) and Anthony Bennett (Cavaliers, 2013) have in common? They’re the most recent No. 1 overall draft choices not to start at the start of a season.
Prior to them, as best I can tell, the last pick of the litter to come off the bench was center Billy ‘The Hill’ McGill … through no fault of his own; Walt Bellamy already had established himself as the Chicago Zephyrs’ centerfold.
McGill was fresh in my mind when I began this column. I’d just read his depressing story in ‘Hard Labor’… authored by Sam Smith (The Jordan Rules). Starring Oscar Robertson and 13 other litigants who sued the NBA in 1970 to prevent the league from merging with the ABA, it’s exceptionally resourced and entrancingly educational.
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Warriors, Rockets, Thunder class of the West

New York
After careful deliberation, Eddie Gottlieb and I decried the only way to keep the Warriors from galloping out of the West is to boomerang them back to Philly.
WARRIORS: Think about this: During the off-season, the NBA’s superior ensemble added three productive players — long range catch-and-sting marksman Nick Young (six treys v Houston), Jordan Bell and Omri Casppi.
Now think about this: champions in two of the last three seasons, the league’s superior ensemble corralled the 30th selection in the 2015 draft, Kevon Looney, and then back-to-back second round choices, Bell and Patrick McCaw. All three were in Steve Kerr’s 12-man rotation during last night’s 1-point loss to the Rockets.
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Source says haymaker by Portis no cheap shot

New York

Contrary to counterfeit reports by ESPN and Yahoo, Bobby Portis did not “cheap shot” Nikola Mirotic at Bulls’ practice this afternoon, a source attests.

Nonetheless, there is no denying it was a damaging one-punch knockdown. The Montenegro forward was taken to the hospital with a concussion and facial fractures that will require surgery, and is out indefinitely.

Mirotic initiated the skirmish. “He was the aggressor, not Portis,”  I am informed.

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Cavs, Celtics, Wizards studs of the East

New York
After an exhausting, transaction-logged summer, the NBA begins its 72nd season tonight aflutter with a searing question: Can the Warriors thwart LeBron James’ shot at another J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award?
As you might’ve heard, any number of districts spent the summer re-upping, recruiting and re-routing work forces with the sole purpose of breathlessly being mentioned in the same minted breath as the Warriors.
The sole suspense surrounding the defending champs will be whether they turn down a visit to the White House again or get disinvited.
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