In today's episode of Season Ticket, Mike Gorman, longtime voice of the Boston Celtics, joins host Chris Gasper (@cgasper) to discuss the Celtics' 10-game winning streak, how they compare to the '08 championship team, and whether they can surpass Cleveland this season. Gorman also reflects on 36 years co-commentating with Tommy Heinsohn and recalls his favorite stories of their time together.
Then, Boston College Men's Basketball Head Coach, Jim Christian, joins the show to preview his team's season, which opens Friday, November 10th at home against Maine.
On the Celtics' new identity
Mike Gorman: The chemistry is remarkable. I get to travel with them so I see how they react after games and they’re very level. This is a group where guys sit and watch movies on flights, watch a lot of tapes on the games; they’re not a ruckus bunch by any stretch. Teams in the NBA always seem to mirror the personality of their best player and Kyrie and Al are the two best players on this team. Al, maybe more than Kyrie, is the leader of this team and he’s a very quiet, unassuming guy, leads by example. [He] gets very fired up during the games but off the court he’s a soft-spoken, thoughtful guy. This seems to be a soft-spoken, thoughtful team—a team that people really seem to like. The television ratings are as high as we’ve had in years.
"This seems to be a soft-spoken, thoughtful team—a team that people really seem to like."Mike Gorman, on this year's Celtics team
On why the Celtics' front office dismantled last year's team in the offseason
Mike Gorman: Isaiah [Thomas] was wonderful to watch, that was a once-in-a-lifetime season for a player, but I think everybody knew in their heart that that team, as it was constituted, was not a team that was going to win a championship. They were going to be fun to watch, but they were gonna be a team that would stop in the Eastern Conference Finals. They were not gonna get to the Finals. And one of the things that’s great about this Celtics’ organization and ownership and Danny [Ainge], is that they want to win a championship—anything short of winning a championship or putting themselves in the position to win a championship is not good enough.
On if the Celtics can surpass Cleveland this year
Mike Gorman: As long as [Cleveland] has the best player in the world, they’re a threat. I caused some controversy about a week ago when I said I don’t think Cleveland will make the Eastern Conference Finals and I don’t think they will because I think there are some issues with that team right now. They don’t defend. They beat Washington in Washington and people say, “Oh, well, they’re better than Washington.” Well, it took 57 from LeBron to get a 5-point win. I think if Cleveland puts themselves in a situation where they have to go through both Washington and Boston to get to the Finals, I don’t think they will be up to the task. I think if this discord, which mirrors itself with them not winning games and having teams score 115-plus points every night out, is still going on in February, I think all the talk is going to come up about LeBron going to L.A. next year and leaving Cleveland, and I think it’s a potential madhouse there. Whereas Boston, again, the chemistry is very good and Brad [Stevens] is an outstanding coach and I think they’re just sitting in the weeds, letting Cleveland self-destruct, and they’ll move into the [top] spot.
"I’ve always been amazed—and he still has some time left so this could come true—that he hasn’t got tossed by an official."Mike Gorman, on Tommy Heinsohn
On working with Tommy Heinsohn for 36 years
Mike Gorman: That very first game [in 1981] I had my charts up in the booth ready to go: multi-colored names, heights, weights, scoring averages, free throw percentages, how many people in the family, what Dad and Mom did. I just had so much information on every player. And Tommy comes up and looks at it and he goes, “What’s that blank!?” and I said that’s what we’re going to use during the game ... And he reaches down and he takes my copious notes and he crumples them up in a little ball and he throws it off the balcony. And he looks at me and he says, “We’re going to talk about what happens in front of us.” And that’s what we’ve been doing for 36 years.
On Tommy clashing with the officials
Mike Gorman: I’ve always been amazed—and he still has some time left so this could come true—that he hasn’t got tossed by an official. He reserves some of his loudest comments to when the officials are within 8-10 feet of our broadcast location to make sure that they hear him. There was one point—I forget the officials name—Tommy had felt that he called a particularly bad game and they started yelling at each other in the corridors between the press room and the locker rooms and actually had to have some security people come in between the two of them. Now, this was probably 8 or 10 years ago so we’re talking about a 73-year old guy going after a 68-year old guy. It would have been an interesting fight if it ever actually happened.
On Tommy's relationship with the Boston Celtics
Mike Gorman: Tommy has only worked for the Boston Celtics since the day he got out of college. And he’s had opportunities—he could have gone to Houston, he could have gone to L.A. and he could have gone a couple other places over the course of the years and, pretty much, could have written his own ticket—but he chose to stay in Boston. He’s in the Hall of Fame as a coach, he’s in the Hall of Fame as a player, and he should go into the wing of the Hall of Fame as a broadcaster. This is a guy who literally has spent 50-plus years with the same franchise. That’s remarkable.
"I don’t know if they’re the best backcourt in the country but I don’t think there is anyone better. I think they’re probably as good as anybody in the country."Jim Christian, on BC basketball's guards
On Jerome Robinson and Ky Bowman, the talented guards of the BC men's basketball team
Jim Christian: All of these things come down to their drive—what do they want and what are they about. Both of those guys, they really want to leave their mark on a winning program, they want to have impact that people will remember. At the same time, they're chasing their NBA dream. Even though one was ranked 390th in the country, Ky, and one was 270th in the country, Jerome, they both believe, if given the opportunity to prove it, they’re NBA players and I want them to chase that dream. I don’t know if they’re the best backcourt in the country but I don’t think there is anyone better. I think they’re probably as good as anybody in the country.