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Celtics practice report: O’Neals pass first test

09.28.10 at 5:51 pm ET
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NEWPORT, R.I. — It was hot inside Rodgers Recreation Center at Salve Regina University Tuesday, where the Celtics held their first practice of the 2010-11 season.

How hot?

“Way too warm, felt like the [Boston] Garden in the ’80s,” said Doc Rivers, who played in his share of summer playoff games vs. the Celtics during his years with the Hawks.

“It a little humid in here, a little warm,” said Jermaine O’Neal, who felt the players did a “pretty good” job dealing with the heat.

Rivers felt that the temperature inside the gym — best guess was somewhere in the low 90s — “didn’t help” the players during a three-plus hour session, but he wasn’t going to make excuses.

“I think that we’€™re not in great shape, personally,” said Rivers. “I don’€™t think that we’€™ve come back in the condition that we want. So we’€™re going to have to come back in better shape.”

— It was the first day as a member of the Celtics for both Shaquille and Jermaine O’Neal. Rivers was pleased with the efforts of both.

“Shaq was great, actually. He looked fine,” said Rivers, who when asked about Jermaine O’Neal noted, “What did I see [from him]? He’s going to help us.

Both O’Neals were seen practicing with the first team [the media was allowed to watch the last 20 minutes or so of the session] but it was Shaquille O’Neal who spent some time with the second unit ‘€” “The White Team” ‘€” that also included Delonte West, Nate Robinson and Marquis Daniels.

“My game is real limited,” Shaq said when asked if he preferred to start or come off the bench. “I know to look for [Kevin] Garnett and to look for my shooters. I’ve always played with great big men and great shooters, so it’s no different.

“I’m not going to be playing 30-40 minutes a game, just 20-30.”

Jermaine O’Neal didn’t seem concerned about the starter/reserve situation, either.

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Read More: Celtics, Doc Rivers, Jermaine O'Neal, Shaquille O'Neal

Shaq Q&A: ‘Always knew Doc was a great coach’

09.28.10 at 4:27 pm ET
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Newport, R.I. — Shaquille O’Neal speaks maybe a half a notch above whisper. So it took my best Talia Shire to get through the rest of the  media and pick up what I could from his (very brief) sit down with the press folks following his first practice with the Celtics Tuesday at Salve Regina University. Here’s what we got:

No chemistry problems with a new team?

“I’ve known a lot of these guys their whole career, spent a lot of time with them during the summer. Getting along with the guys won’t be a problem or a factor. I’ve known these guys since the first day they came into the NBA.”

Does it matter if you start or not at this point of your career?

“Nope, my game is real limited. I know to look for Garnett and to look for my shooters. I’ve always played with great big men and great shooters, so it’s no different.”

How about your first day with Doc Rivers as your head coach? About what you expected?

“I always knew Doc was a great coach, that’s why I called him this summer. I want to end my career with a players coach, I wanted to end my career with a team that’s going to win.”

Doc mentioned that some of the guys weren’t in the condition he had hoped. Is your fitness level a concern?

“I’m happy, I’m cool. There’s a difference between being in shape and in basketball shape. Remember, I’m not going to be playing 35-40 minutes a game, more like 20-25 minutes a game, and I could do that all day. I’m still putting in some extra work, doing some yoga at night so I’ll be ready.”

Just happy to be with this team?

“I’m very delighted for myself and my family. Going into my 19th year, breaking records every day and being different historical teams. I’ve had a very, very unorthodox and illustrious career. Unorthodox and illustrious — two big words in a row.”

Read More: Shaquille O'Neal,

Doc Rivers Q&A: ‘Kevin was phenomenal’

09.28.10 at 3:31 pm ET
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NEWPORT, R.I. – With a three-plus hour opening practice in the books. Doc Rivers spoke to the media at Salve Regina University, host of the Celtics training camp until the end of week. Here are a few highlights:

How was the level of conditioning?

“They didn’t hold up very well, honestly. It was a long practice, a lot of talking as you can tell (Rivers was nursing a hoarse voice). We won’t go three hours every day but we needed it. I think we’re not in great shape, personally. I think we’ve come back in the condition we want.”

How was Shaquille O’Neal’s first practice?

“Shaq was great, actually. He looked fine.”

A year ago Kevin Garnett was limping through the first day of camp. A big difference a year later?

“Kevin was phenomenal, really, yeah. Explosive.”

Warm in the gym today (and it was — must’ve been close to 90 degrees). Was that done on purpose?

“No, it’s too warm. That didn’t help practice, honestly. Way to warm — feels like the Garden in the 1980s.”

What did you see out of Jermaine O’ Neal?

“Just one practice, you know? What did I see? He’s gonna help us.”

How hard was it for Kendrick Perkins to watch practice?

“I’m sure it was hard, it was hard for me to watch practice at times. That’s going to be tough for Perk. I’ve been there. That’s going to be really tough, a tough thing to do. He’s a great kid, he’ll get through it, but it’s not going to be easy.”

What will Von Wafer’s role be?

“He’s got to make his role. He’s young, he’s got a lot of guys in front of him right now. He’s a guy coming off the bench and being a good practice player until he can get in front of somebody.”

Comments made by Big Baby at Media Day (doesn’t know his role)?

“I think he’s living up to [The Big Baby moniker] again … if Baby doesn’t know what his role is by now, I guess he’ll be sitting down a lot. It’s just that simple.”

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Paul Pierce on Doc Rivers’ return: ‘That was huge’

09.28.10 at 11:48 am ET
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In our countdown of the Celtics 10 most important offseason developments, we gave the top spot to Doc Rivers‘ decision to return to the bench. Paul Pierce backed that up at media day Monday

“I think the most important thing was Doc coming back,” Pierce said. “That was huge. It would have been a tougher decision on me truthfully. It would have been a domino effect. If you had seen Doc leave, I honestly believe that we probably wouldn’€™t have re-signed Ray [Allen]. We probably wouldn’€™t have went after Shaq, re-signed Nate [Robinson]. We probably would have seen rebuilding here”

Pierce also acknowledged that he wouldn’t have wanted to be involved with another rebuilding effort at this point in his career.

Read More: Doc Rivers, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Shaquille O'Neal

Shaq on D&C: ‘I would have played for free’ in Boston

09.28.10 at 8:49 am ET
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In an appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show, new Celtics center Shaquille O’Neal, who has made no less than $10 million in his last 14 NBA seasons and at least $20 million in his last nine campaigns, said that he had no problem taking a pay cut in excess of 90 percent in order to come to the Celtics. O’Neal signed a two-year deal for approximately $3 million this summer, and he suggested that money was virtually irrelevant in making his decision to join Boston.

“I had other options where the money would have been greater. But this franchise, this team, has a tradition of winning,” O’Neal said. “I’€™ve been one of the luckiest guys in the history of the game. I’€™ve had four max deals and one lifetime of play. So money wasn’€™t an issue. Money will never be an issue. But Danny Ainge had $1 million left, which was the minimum. If I had to, to come here and play, I would have played for free. Doesn’€™t matter to me.”

O’Neal ‘€” who said that he wanted to be called The Big Shamrock while with the Celtics — also discussed whether he will be able to “blend in” in Boston both on and off the court, his bucket list, his experience of last year’s Celtics-Cavaliers playoff series from Cleveland’s perspective and his feelings on Dwight Howard and LeBron James, among several other topics.

A transcript is below. To listen to the complete interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

This is Shaquille O’€™Neal. Don’€™t mess with Dennis & Callahan, weekdays from 6-10 on the WEEI Sports Radio Network.

Skip the boring basketball questions. Is Boston big enough for your personality?

I always tell people that I was raised Karate Kid style. My father took me many places as a youngster. I started off in Northern New Jersey, born and raised. Went down south to Hinesville, Ga., then to West Germany, then to San Antonio, Tex. I say that to say that I can blend in anywhere.

You probably can’€™t blend in.

I can blend in. If people are looking for me in Boston, I’€™ll be in Sudbury. If you’€™re looking for the Big Shamrock, he’€™ll be in Sudbury, in the fields of Sudbury.

You’€™ve settled on the Big Shamrock?

Yes. The Big Shamrock. Yes.

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Read More: Bill Russell, Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James

Celtics: Irish Coffee

09.28.10 at 7:35 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …

Yesterday, the Celtics held their annual Media Day extravaganza, leading into today’s training camp kickoff. Check out the top five quotes that came out of a day that featured Shaq donning green for the first time …

Kendrick Perkins on Game 7 vs. the Lakers: “If I would have played we would have won for sure. By double-figures.”

Shaquille O’Neal on Kobe Bryant’s five rings: “Yeah, I heard it. My whole career I’ve been the measuring stick. Glad to see I’m still relevant. I would’ve been more upset, more hurt, if Tim Duncan would’ve made the comment. I don’t compete with guards. They have the ball more than I do, they shoot way more than I do. You can’t compete with guards. I’m only competing with Tim Duncan, so hopefully I can get No. 5 before Tim Duncan, respectfully before Tim Duncan.”

Kevin Garnett on the 2010-11 season: “I’m really excited, really excited. I don’t like us, I love us. I like how we are, I like our depth, and I’m eager to start.”

Jermaine O’Neal on his new team: “I haven’t walked into a locker room where we talked about winning a championship and a championship only in a long time.”

Delonte West on the truth of the LeBron’s mom rumors: “Not at all. I come from an era where you don’t say nothing bad about someone’s parent, so not at all.”

Nate Robinson hijinks

On the bus ride down to training camp in Newport, Nate Robinson played a few pranks on his sleeping teammates–including Shaq, KG and Delonte–and he posted the pictures to prove it on his Twitter page. Funny stuff.

Antoine Walker’s unemployment

Just a fantastic piece on Antoine Walker by David Aldridge. It’s blunt. He cited one coach who called the former first-round pick “a bad guy in Boston.” Walker touched on his gambling problem and how a “terrible decision” to invest in Chicago real estate led to losses in the double-digit millions. He talked about how he’s had to shrink his inner-circle to a select few, which includes M.L. Carr. After ballooning to almost 300 pounds, Walker is back down to about 265 and looking for a job. So far, though, he’s been turned down by everybody, including the Heat, who he won a championship with in 2006.

“He is a long, long way from the Shimmy and the three All-Star appearances,” writes Aldridge, “and the days he and Paul Pierce were the Celtics’ future, and the day that he signed an extension in Boston that should have taken care of his family for life. There’s no buzz that I can detect that there’s a team interested, so Walker will wait and see if someone goes down during camp and a team needs a body. He wouldn’t mind a camp invite just so he can stay in shape, even if there’s not a real prospect of a job.

“And if it ends for him here? Well, he’s been poor before.”

Paul Pierce, the blogger

Pierce posted a blog on the website yesterday. He described how meaningful his high school jersey retirement ceremony.

“Of all the things in my career,” he wrote, “going back to Inglewood High School and having my jersey retired this week in front of my family and friends and the people in my community who supported me from the beginning, was one of the most memorable.”

Considering his career includes an NBA title, that’s saying a lot.

Celtics Late Night Show

Listen to our own Paul Flannery on the Celtics Late Night Show by Gino’s Jungle. He touches on all things green, including Media Day, why fans will like Jermaine O’Neal, Shaq’s star quality, KG’s health, why Rajon Rondo doesn’t watch basketball and the addition of Lawrence Frank to the coaching staff.

Read More: Antoine Walker, Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce

Why Doc Rivers is the ‘perfect coach’ for C’s

09.27.10 at 11:53 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Celtics head coach Doc Rivers believes he enters the season with the most talented group he’s ever coached, with more depth than the 2008 team that won the NBA title.

“You could make the case the 2008 team had more talent because they were younger. Kevin [Garnett] was at the peak of his health at that point so that has changed just a little bit. We’re hoping that all the guys on the bench are as good as their names. We don’t know that, either.”

One thing Rivers does know is the “O’Neal Brothers” – as he labeled the unrelated Shaquille and Jermaine on Monday – gives the Celtics as much in size as name recognition and the two will fight for the starting center’s job while Kendrick Perkins rehabs his right knee.”

Rivers has Delonte West on the bench. He has Nate Robinson on the bench. He Marquis Daniels on the bench. No team north of Miami can bring the depth to the court that the Celtics will bring this season.

“But I like the group as far as talent,” Rivers added. “A lot of the guys we’ve added, they’ve won. They’ve done a lot of winning if they haven’t been the winner [of the NBA title] and they are tough. A lot of them are tough guys, and I think that is good for our team.”

Celtics general manager Danny Ainge said Monday he believes Rivers is the “perfect coach” for the veteran group of superstars he’s assembled to make another run at the franchise’s 18th NBA title. Rivers, Ainge and the rest of the Celtics spoke at Media Day about how ready and primed this group is to make it back to the promised land.

“Yeah, we’ll see about that, that’s for sure,” Rivers laughed when told what Ainge said. “We have a lot of personalities, there’s no doubt about that, probably more than we’ve ever had. Having said that, I also think this is the most talented group we’ve had, as far as deep, on the bench.”

The Celtics are trying to get back to the NBA Finals again next June for the third time in four seasons and avenge their Game 7 loss last June to the Lakers. The Celtics lead the Lakers 17 titles to 16.

Rivers went back with his coaching staff in August and made them all watch just how close they were to No. 18.

“I don’t think you ever get over it,” Rivers said. “I made my staff watch it. We watched it together about a month ago. So, I don’t think you ever get over it. Whenever I see anything [involving Game 7], they always show the damn celebration and all that. That’s not anything I want to watch. Hell, I’m not over Game 7 Celtics-Atlanta Hawks [1987], so I’m certainly not going to be over this.

“It does in some ways. It wants you to get it started again so you can get back there. So yeah, in that way it does. But other than that, you have to move forward. It has to push you a little bit. There’s no doubt.”

One thing Rivers did take from watching again was just how big a role the third-quarter injury to Paul Pierce played in the final devastating outcome.

“It’s easier to watch it the second time,” Rivers said. “It’s still emotional, it always will be. You watch it and you looked at all the opportunities you did have in that in that game. You saw some things you didn’t see. I didn’t realize the Paul injury was bigger, that little injury, was bigger than I thought it was during the game.

“I think [Celtics’ lead] was 12 when he went out. It was only a three-minute period, but when he came back in it was four or six and that was the game. That was in the third quarter and I thought that was the turning point in the game. Nothing in the fourth quarter was different than what I saw. It was more the third quarter I thought changed the game.

In the wake of Game 7 in the locker room, Rivers also admitted Monday that he thought that was it for this group together under his direction.

“Yeah, because I wasn’t sure of what I was going to do at that time,” he said. “I knew Rasheed [Wallace] wasn’t coming back, he told me that before the game. I was, at that time, leaning heavily toward not coming back. Yeah, in the locker room I actually thought that was going to be the last time, at that point, that I would see all these guys together.

“And even if I did come back, I knew it wouldn’t be the same team. I knew we were going to have to make changes. I knew at that time, and no one else knew, the extent of Perk’s injury so I knew he wouldn’t be back until late in next year.”

But he does get another chance to prove – as Pierce believes – that he’s one of the best coaches in the NBA.

Just how many games can this group win this regular season?

“How many games we play, 82? Ok,” Rivers laughed.

Rivers would be just happy with 16 in the playoffs when it matters most.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Los Angeles Lakers, NBA
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