|06.07.10 at 11:49 am ET|
Before the start of Game 2 of the NBA finals, legendary UCLA head coach John Wooden, who passed away Friday at the age of 99, was honored with a moment of silence in Los Angeles’ Staples Center. In the days since his death, stars in both the college and the pro game have talked about how the Wizard of Westwood influenced them.
Although he played at the University of Connecticut, Ray Allen can appreciate Wooden’s role in the modern game. ‘He’s had an impact on all of us, indirectly,’ he said. ‘You figure that anybody’s who has played basketball in the last 50, 60 years, we’ve ran his offensive sets, his schemes. We’ve followed the quotations he used to motivate his teams. But not only just basketball: He’s been legendary as a coach, emulated by many coaches across the spectrum. We all have been better as individuals, as sportsmen, to have him in our lives.’
Nate Robinson played against UCLA several times during his tenure at Washington in the Pac-10. “I know a lot of his history because of his winning, but a lot of kids, a lot of freshmen, don’t understand what he brought to basketball alone, but college basketball in general,” Robinson said. “His tradition will carry on. When you hear about UCLA and you hear about basketball, you’ll hear his name. He’s embedded in us. He’s in our DNA.”
Paul Pierce grew up in Inglewood, about eight miles from UCLA, and heard plenty about Wooden. ‘I’m very familiar with what John Wooden has done for the game of basketball,’ he said. ‘When I talk about basketball, I don’t mean [just] the college game, I mean all of basketball. His influence on the game has been awesome, and when you see an icon like that pass away, your heart just goes out to him and his family.’
But the biggest Wooden fan on the Celtics would probably be Doc Rivers. Rivers has autographed pictures of Wooden and Red Auerbach. ‘To have those two on your desk, I don’t think you need to further your collection,’ Rivers said. ‘You know, those are the two best. But with Wooden, I think he’s one of the rare superstars that stood out more about him as a person than he did as a coach or anything. And that’s rare, when you say that about any star in any business.’
When he met Wooden for the first time, Rivers recalls reacting like a child meeting his idol. ‘The fact that I got to meet him and he actually knew my name, to me blew me away on its own right.’
Of course, he had to take advantage of the situation, ‘I don’t ask for a lot of autographs, and he was one that I wanted, and he was as gracious as we thought he would be.’
|06.07.10 at 11:11 am ET|
Celtics point guard Nate Robinson has been a spark plug this postseason, picking up where starter Rajon Rondo leaves off. In Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals, Robinson came in when Rondo landed on the ground hard and came up sore, and the three-time slam dunk champion helped eliminate the Magic by racking up 13 points, two assists and a steal in 13 minutes. In Game 2 of the NBA finals against the Lakers, Robinson helped again by having a perfect shooting night: 2-for-2 field goals, including a 3-pointer, and 2-for-2 on free throws.
Even with his support off the bench, Robinson does not have guaranteed job security with the C’s. With the season soon coming to a close, he was asked about his future plans by AOL FanHouse’s Chris Tomasson.
‘I feel wanted here,’ Robinson said. ‘This group of guys, this team, this organization is good for me. They’re high class, man. They keep it 100 percent [real] with you. Doc [Rivers] keeps it 100 percent. He tells you straight forward what he wants. I like that.’
When Robinson was asked about his 4½-year experience with the Knicks, his review wasn’t as glowing. ‘They treated me good, but at times I felt like they didn’t,’ Robinson said. ‘But it is what it is. Sometimes it’s like your mom and your dad. You don’t communicate all the time being on the same page. But you move forward. I’m moving forward and not looking back.’
If the 5-foot-9 University of Washington alum couldn’t return to the Celtics, he isn’t sure where he’d want to go next. One thing is for sure, though, he definitely isn’t running short on the child analogies: ‘I want to be able to play somewhere that somebody wants me,’ he said. ‘You kind of look at it like being in an orphanage and somebody wants to come and adopt you. So, whoever that NBA family that wants me and loves me and they want me for who I am.’
Finally, he was asked about what he would take from his time in Boston. ‘This whole season has been a roller coaster for me,’ Robinson said. ‘It’s kind of been like at an amusement park. You never know what to expect, what curve or what dip. But day to day, it’s been fun.’
|06.07.10 at 8:15 am ET|
President Obama be warned. Click here to find out why …
|06.07.10 at 7:15 am ET|
Here’s your chance to keep the conversation going. Join WEEI.com site editor Rob Bradford and columnist Kirk Minihane in breaking down exactly what happened at the Staples Center Sunday night, and what will happen at TD Garden Tuesday night when the Celtics take on the Lakers in Game 3.
|06.07.10 at 6:35 am ET|
Lakers center Pau Gasol made some comments about Kevin Garnett over the weekend that some people tried to turn into inspiration for the Celtics. Now it’s Paul Pierce‘s turn for some locker room bulletin board material. During the closing seconds of the C’s Game 2 win Sunday night, as Pierce helped up teammate Kendrick Perkins, he appeared to say, “We ain’t coming back [to LA].” If the Celtics were to win (or, for that matter, lose) the next three games in Boston, the series would be over without the Lakers hosting another game.
It should be noted that after Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals in Orlando, Pierce made a similar proclamation, saying “See y’all next year,” as he walked to the locker room, after an interview with ESPN sideline reporter Doris Burke in which he said, “We’re coming home to close it out.” That proved to be inaccurate, as the Magic pushed the series to six games.
Here’s the clip of the Sunday night comment, which became a hot topic overnight on message boards across the country.
|06.07.10 at 2:20 am ET|
LOS ANGELES — All eyes were on Kevin Garnett after he was thoroughly outplayed by Pau Gasol in Game 1 and some comments from Gasol were taken out of context and became a dominant storyline heading into Game 2.
How would Garnett react? Could he handle Gasol? Would we see a vintage Garnett performance? In the end, none of those questions were answered definitively because Garnett spent the entire night in foul trouble.
Garnett played less than 12 minutes in the first three quarters and scored only two points to go with two rebounds.
“Obviously I would have liked to be in a better flow,” Garnett said. “But fouls, it goes like that.”
Despite his struggles to stay on the court, Garnett turned in a solid fourth quarter. He only had four points and two rebounds, but his one made basket came with the Celtics up one, 91-90. Additionally, Gasol scored only one point and Garnett set a number of screens that opened lanes for Rajon Rondo to drive to the basket.
Garnett did little to answer his critics in Game 2, but he did enough to help his team get a win.
|06.07.10 at 1:38 am ET|
LOS ANGELES — Paul Pierce isn’t worried.
He knows he can perform better, but he doesn’t have to force his shot when his teammates are getting it done on the offensive end.
‘I think I struggled offensively, I think I rushed a lot,’ Pierce said following the Celtics Game 2 win over the Lakers. ‘I don’t think it was too much about what Ron (Artest) did (defensively). I had about three or four open shots off the pick-and-roll that guys got me open that I missed. I loved the looks I got tonight. I’m happy with that, but at the same time I’m not going to force the issue on my offense.’
Pierce finished the game with 10 points, 14 less than in Game 1. But it’s how he made up for it that matters. He grabbed four rebounds and held Artest to just six points off of 1-for-10 shooting. Pierce considers himself to be a versatile player, not just a scorer, and he utilized those skills to help the Celtics get the win.
‘I don’t have a big burden for me offensively on my team as Kobe (Bryant) does,’ he said. ‘So when I’m not out here making buckets I’m out there trying to rebound, defend, make plays for other guys. Obviously Ray was the catalyst tonight along with Rajon (Rondo), so I tried to do other things.’
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