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Reflecting on a star at twilight

Page 3 of 4 -- The Grizzlies went small (Antonio Burks) over big (Jake Tsakalidis) because Mike Fratello wanted speed to play with the Suns. And the man Danny Ainge wanted last June (and some feel will pursue again with the Celtics' No. 1 pick) is finished for the season. Seattle rookie center Robert Swift is not on the playoff roster. His first NBA season: 16 games, 72 minutes, 16 fouls, and 15 points.

James consumed by endorsement deals?

Not that LeBron James needed anything more to tie up his time, but the Cavaliers' sensation is now in the crosshairs of one Ralph Nader.

The longtime consumer advocate wants James to push for child marketing curbs in his supposed new endorsement deals with McDonald's and Coca-Cola. In a letter to James, Nader reminded the Cavs' star that he was asked two years ago to address the issue of sweatshop labor and Nike. Didn't happen, according to Ralph.

Now, Nader said, "We would like to extend our hope that, prior to signing [these deals], you will do something positive for the many children whose health and well-being are put at risk by the marketing practices of these junk-food giants."

Nader closed by saying, "We wish you continued success in your professional career and look forward to your response, unlike two years ago when your agent recommended that you not have the courtesy to reply to our first letter."

Efforts by the Globe to reach James's agent, Aaron Goodwin, were unsuccessful.

Auerbach was pressed into service

Thursday marks the 55th anniversary of Red Auerbach's hiring as the coach of the Celtics by owner Walter Brown. The story, as recounted in Dan Shaughnessy's book, "Seeing Red," is a beauty -- typical of a league (and a team) trying to make it. Brown summoned 10 writers and broadcasters to his office and asked them whom he should hire. (Think that would happen today?) Brown was justifiably impressed by the media; he had discovered by reading the paper that very morning that his current coach, Doggie Julian, was going to Dartmouth (a step up in those days). Auerbach's name came up in conversation and one thing led to another. When Auerbach requested a three-year deal, Brown told him he'd shake hands on a one-year, $10,000 deal because he couldn't guarantee the Celtics would even be in business for more than a year. Nineteen years and 11 titles later, Auerbach was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Laboring toward an agreement

Commissioner David Stern briefed the owners on the status of talks with the Players Association toward a new collective bargaining agreement. The current one expires at the end of June. An industry source said the sides were close to a deal a week ago but there has since been a setback. Said Stern, "It certainly has been our goal to get it done as soon as possible. Without putting a date on it, every day we don't have it in our view is not a good thing." After briefing the board, Stern said he thought the talks were closer to 50 percent complete than 80 percent complete.   Continued...

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