Celtics

Gil Santos had connection to Celtics, in addition to Patriots

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AP Photo

Gil Santos had connection to Celtics, in addition to Patriots

MILWAUKEE -- When most fans of New England pro teams think of Gil Santos, they immediately associate him as the longtime voice of the New England Patriots.

But once upon a time, many years ago, Santos -- who passed away Thursday on his 80th birthday -- was the television voice of the Boston Celtics. His broadcast partner was the legendary Bob Cousy through most of the 1980s.

MORE ON SANTOS

"Gil was the consummate professional," Cousy told NBC Sports Boston. "I worked with a lot of play-by-play men who went on to National success, but Gil, to me, was by far the most prepared. He did it by the book, not a lot of editorializing. I appreciated that he often let the pictures do the talking . . . that's something he really believed in."

Cousy added: "I thought he had the best voice of all the play-by-play men. I had great respect for him as a play-by-play man because I always knew he was well prepared. I also enjoyed his company. He was a great dinner companion because he was a great story teller . . . and he loved good food. Gil would always handle the dinner arrangements and to me that was another big plus. He was the best at finding the best restaurants."

Santos' impact went beyond the airwaves.

He was a man who changed lives, something the current TV voice of the Boston Celtics can attest to.

Mike Gorman recalls his first encounter with Santos, in 1975.

"I was just out of the Navy and I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life," Gorman told NBC Sports Boston. "At one point when I was getting out of the Navy, I decided I wanted to be a sportscaster but I had no credentials for it and no experience in it. That was fortunate for me because ignorance was bliss."

After sending out resumes, Gorman realized his dream job wasn't going to come about that route.

"So I walked up to WBZ to speak to Gil Santos," Gorman said. "Gil was nice enough to come out and see who I was."

The two talked, shared a couple Cokes, played a softball game and before you know it, Santos was on the phone with a friend of a radio station in New Bedford, Mass., which would soon become Gorman's first on-air job.

And that was the catalyst for what has been a Hall of Fame-worthy career for Gorman, whose broadcasting career has been influenced by many.

But the impact of Santos on his career, is immeasurable.

Gorman said he would probably be a teacher and a would-be basketball coach right now if it wasn't for Santos.

"I was pretty much at the end of the line trying to get into broadcasting," Gorman said. "If Gil had been discouraging or said you need to go to broadcasting school or something like that, I would have said, ‘Thanks' and gone back to being a teacher, which is what I was trained to be in college."

Gorman added: "He opened the door for me. If he doesn't open the door for me, I'm 90 percent sure I would be in some other business not doing what I'm doing now."

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Bean: Kawhi in Cleveland makes great theater for everyone

Bean: Kawhi in Cleveland makes great theater for everyone

Other than LeBron Watch, Kawhi Watch will likely be the most captivating Watch of the NBA offseason,  and there's obviously a chance the two end up in the same place. Regardless of what happens with LeBron, I've officially decided where I want Kawhi to land. 

Cleveland. 

I've got my reasons, but I'll start with why I'm not clamoring for the C's to get one of the five best players in the league. Yes, the C's can offer the best package, but I don't want them to make an offer the Spurs can't refuse. I don't want them to trade Jaylen Brown and the Sacramento pick for a flight risk. I don't want them to trade Kyrie Irving. I want them to be loaded, as they currently are, and set to add to that in the future. 

Leonard supposedly wants to be traded to the Lakers. The more well-connected basketball reporters have noted the Spurs wouldn't have any motivation to turn the Lakers into a Western Conference powerhouse, which makes sense. 

So, if it's not going to be the Lakers, make it the Cavaliers. 

This might sound ridiculous, but I want LeBron James to be a character in this Celtics group's run. One of the things that made the 2017-18 Celtics' run so exciting was that it culminated in a showdown with LeBron, the best player in the league and the centerpiece of great Celtics series past. 

I don't want the Celtics to go on runs with LeBron in a different time zone. I want battling (and beating) the best player of this generation to be part of what the Tatum Era does. If the Cavs can land Leonard, maybe that will keep James from bolting in free agency. 

They're also rumored to be inquiring about Kemba Walker's availability from Charlotte to help surround LeBron with another star.

To be fair, I wrote last week that I'm fine with LeBron going to the Lakers and even forming a super team with Kawhi and Paul George. That's because I think either that team or the Warriors would be all tuckered out by the time they got to the finals against a Celtics team that just waltzed through the East. 

That wouldn't be as fun though, especially if the Lakers kept getting eliminated by Golden State. If the Celtics have another championship run coming during the final years of LeBron's career, I want it to involve a Kyrie/LeBron matchup. I certainly want it to involve a competitive underdog, and I don't trust the 76ers for that yet. Considering they probably wouldn't be able to get much else, a team of LeBron, Kawhi and a bunch of junk still wouldn't be favored against the Celtics at full health. 

If LeBron goes somewhere West this offseason, I'd still want the Cavs to get Kawhi. Assuming Kawhi actually plays, he'd at least keep the Cavaliers a playoff team and an interesting opponent. 

Could the Cavaliers actually get Kawhi? I don't see why not. If his status as a player who can opt out after next season scares some teams away, the eighth overall pick and whatever they could get for Kevin Love would already make their offer better than whatever the Lakers would try to scrape together. Sacramento could always trump everyone by offering the second overall pick for Leonard, but that would be stupid. Then again, sometimes the Kings are stupid. 

Kawhi in Boston? Not at the likely price, and not if it means that much risk. LA? Predictable. Put Kawhi in Cleveland, keep the East exciting and give LeBron a real decision to make. 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

BREAKFAST POD: Jaylen and Rozier for Kawhi?

BREAKFAST POD: Jaylen and Rozier for Kawhi?

1:43 - Chris Mannix joined Gary Tanguay and Kyle Draper on Early Edition to discuss if the Celtics could trade up in the draft, and if the Celtics have any chance of acquiring Kawhi Leonard.

6:35 - Phil Perry talks about Albert Breer’s report that the Patriots talked with four teams (Lions, Titans, 49ers, Texans) about trading Rob Gronkowski. We also hear from Holley, Merloni, and DJ Bean about Tom Brady commenting “cuarenta y cinco” in response to an Instagram post about when he’ll retire.

10:34 - Lou Merloni and Chris Gasper debate how important it is for the Red Sox to avoid the Wild Card play-in game and win the AL East over the Yankees. 

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NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE