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Sunday, February 22, 2004

Bad Times in Celticsville + Williams Joins Clarett

Being a Celtics fan isn't much fun right about now. A sign your basketball team is in trouble: the head honcho from the front office holds a team meeting and gets this response:

Ainge turned to captain Paul Pierce and asked what he thought of the game. According to the source, Pierce said nothing. Ainge next turned to Mark Blount and asked what he thought of the game. Blount said, "It was long."

That's Danny Ainge talking to the Celtics in a team meeting after their last-second loss to the LA Clippers Thursday night. Shockingly, it appears Ainge's pep talk was ineffective. In Portland tonight, the Blazers scored the game's first 22 points on the way to routing Boston. Once Chucky Atkins gets it going, though, watch out!

One more sports item, which I think qualifies as additional evidence the Maurice Clarett early entry NFL Draft case was properly decided: Mike Williams now appears likely to leave USC for pro football. He's 6-5, 230, a physical specimen who runs over college-level defensive players, so the argument that he's not ready for the NFL on a physical level is silly. He was the best player on a team that won a share of the national championship, and he's a lock to be a top ten selection according to a team official quoted in the MSNBC article, yet at age 20, he would be barred from entering the NFL on the basis of the previous rules. As I argued when the case was decided, this issue isn't about one guy, Maurice Clarett--about whom there are more legitimate questions about whether he will succeed in the pros--but rather allowing young men the opportunity to play in the league. Williams is, without a doubt, ready to make the jump, and barring him from the league on the basis of an arbitrary age requirement would be unjust.