Given the job he did in Boston -- and the fact that his name didn't start with an "R" and end with an "ick Pitino" -- Celtics fans tend to be some of the first to vouch for the coaching merits of Jim O'Brien whenever others question them. To that end, it's nice to see the latest bit of evidence to suggest that though he received a fair share of the blame, Obie was not so wholly at fault during his brief tenure in Philadelphia three years ago.
Obie has taken a verbal beating from Chris Webber over the past few years for the job he did during his days in the City of Brotherly Love. That would be the same Webber whom the team waived the year after Obie was ousted. With O'Brien's Pacers in Philadelphia on Monday, The News Journal reports that the coach has finally opened up on the sore subject that is C-Webb:
"In one of the first conversations I had with Chris Webber, I said, 'This is one of the ways we're going to use you offensively [down low with Kyle Korver on the outside],' " O'Brien said. "And he said, 'Coach, I don't do the low-post thing anymore.'
"We just made a major trade to bring in this 6-[foot]-11 guy and he said, 'No,' and I said, 'Yes, you do.' "
Generally speaking, I could do without wars of words being fought through the press, and it seems reasonable to take just about everything said with a grain of salt in said wars. Word is that Webber has thrown a few jabs at O'Brien over the years, and Obie had done an excellent job biting his lip, and there still doesn't seem to be a need for that practice to have stopped now.
That said, as has been noted on a forum thread on the subject, the usual grain-of-salt attitude may apply at least a bit less with regard to O'Brien. This is a guy who was known throughout his tenure in Beantown for being a players' coach. At the very least, every interview I ever saw with him involved O'Brien showering his stars -- and his team overall -- in praise and trust.
As several posters here at CelticsBlog have already suggested, the words of the old Boston coach do carry some credibility, and they certainly make one think twice about the prospects of bringing in a player like Webber.