|07.16.09 at 9:34 pm ET|
LAS VEGAS — Most fans remember Gerald Henderson, Sr. as a hero for his iconic steal against James Worthy in the 1984 NBA Finals. Ask his son, though, and he’ll tell you his father was just like anyone else.
‘Well, just like anybody in the [NBA], they’re regular people,’ Gerald Henderson, Jr. said. ‘They have a different job than most people do, but they are regular people who go about their day, go to work every day, and work hard.’
This week Henderson (Charlotte Bobcats) and Austin Daye (Detroit Pistons) — the latter the son of former Celtic Darren Daye — are trying to follow in the footsteps of their fathers at the NBA Las Vegas Summer League. While the rookies are looking to establish their own careers, they are influenced by their fathers’ careers in Boston.
The elder Henderson donned green from 1979-1984 and won two titles along the way. His last-second steal and layup against the Lakers pushed the game into overtime and an eventual victory for Boston. For his son, playing for the Celtics was the most memorable stop in his father’s 13-year career.
‘My dad played for a lot of teams, but his best years were in Boston,’ he said, adding, ‘I grew up in Philly so the Sixers … I was all about the Sixers. But I watched his game tape. Like I said, those were his best years. I was real young when he was really playing, but my images of him are in Boston.’
The images are hard to miss, especially during the postseason. His father’s steal steal was voted No. 26 in the NBA’s top 60 greatest playoff moments. Henderson estimates he has seen the play ‘hundreds of times,’ but it took a few years to realize the significance of that one play.
‘They were celebrating maybe the ’84 championship and me and my family went back and a whole bunch of people recognized him and they were saying his name,’ he recalled. ‘That’s when I kind of realized how important his play was to them winning the championship, and then also the city.’
Austin Daye also has a special memory of an iconic Celtics moment during his father’s two seasons in Boston. Ironically it was against the Pistons, the very team that drafted him.
‘I remember Larry Bird’s steal and the layup,’ he said of the memorable moment during the 1987 Eastern Conference Finals. ‘That’s one of the main things — him jumping up and down like a crazy man.’
Daye was impacted by his father’s time in Boston in a different way — he became a fan. Even though he was born just after Darren’s final season in 1988, Austin has followed the team from the West Coast and cheered for them during the 2008 Finals against the Lakers.
He even considers Paul Pierce to be one of his favorite players, and has incorporated some of the Truth’s game into his own repertoire.
‘I’m considered a big guy but I do guard-like things,’ he said. ‘So his game, I try to watch and get some things from, just the way he uses his body so well, stuff like that. He’s such a good player and his team is so good too.’
While Daye models his game after a current Celtic, Henderson is influenced by his father as he prepares for his first season with the Bobcats.
‘I think a big thing is, he played really hard,’ he said. ‘I try to bring it every time I go on the court.’
As for Daye, it isn’t necessarily what his father did on the court, but rather the support he offered away from the game.
‘It’s a really special experience,’ he said. ‘Not a lot of kids have an opportunity to come up with someone who’s always there for you. He was always there for me whenever I needed help, or if he needed to kick my butt. It was just a special experience and I’m going to cherish it until the day I die.’
|07.15.09 at 7:18 pm ET|
LAS VEGAS — Ray Allen is one of the last players an opponent wants to see with the ball behind the arc. The Celtics guard, however, has faced his own challenges stopping sharpshooters over his career.
‘He was like my favorite player for a year when my dad was playing in Milwaukee,’ Curry told WEEI.com at the Las Vegas Summer League.
Dell and Allen were teammates on the 1999 Milwaukee Bucks. Allen was the Bucks leader in three-point shots made while Dell led the team — and the league — in three-point percentage.
Years later Stephen, the seventh overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, has studied Allen’s game enough to incorporate some of his strengths into his own repertoire. He is averaging nearly 20 points in his first four Summer League games.
‘[I like] the way he moves without the ball and how quick his release is,’ Stephen said. ‘Him and my dad kind of competed for that quickest release title. He was always moving around and a bigger guy was right there and he’d get his shot off.’
Just as Stephen admired Allen as a child, he appreciates the compliments Allen has paid toward his father.
‘That’s pretty cool,’ he said. ‘He’s going to be a Hall of Famer, and for a guy to give that kind of compliment to my dad is special. Hopefully, down the road, people he will analyze the NBA and put me in that category.”
|07.14.09 at 11:34 pm ET|
LAS VEGAS — NBA players may be viewed as superstars, but that doesn’t mean the league is immune from the same economic problems faced around the country.
On Tuesday, the NBA held a Board of Governors meeting in Las Vegas to address its financial issues and concerns. Commissioner David Stern said less than half of the teams made a profit in the 2008-2009 season. Now, the league is working to combat the slide.
In response, Stern has appointed a Labor Relations Committee consisting of league executives, a group that includes Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck. This select group will participate in a meeting on Aug. 4 with the National Basketball Players Association Union’s executive committee.
Stern said it is important for the players to be aware of the financial state of the league, as they are impacted by the decreased salary cap and increased luxury tax.
‘We would very much like to begin these negotiations on a positive note of complete disclosure of financials and the readiness to provide more,’ he said, ‘Because that will lead us together to look for a good agreement moving forward that will continue to pay our players, which is the what is the largest average salaries in the history of professional sports, while at the same time return our teams to profitability.’
After projecting a 10 percent drop in ticket revenue and experiencing less interest in sponsorship opportunities, the NBA will focus on new revenue opportunities. The league will hold also hold workshops on the best practices for increasing profits.
In the meantime, teams around the league are getting creative to build championship contenders. Rather than shelling out millions for stars, organizations are opting for trades instead of max contracts.
‘In some ways, you can’t sign free agents because only four teams were under the cap, so you have to have trades. That’s just is the way it’s going to happen,’ Stern said. ‘You’ve got to be imaginative to get these things like these four-team trades that I have to sit down and have someone explain to me with large charts so I can understand what happened. So that’s ongoing.’
The reality is that not every team will be able to pull off a blockbuster deal. The league is working toward new rules and regulations that will allow its organizations to thrive in this market.
‘We want our teams to be competing,’ Stern said.
|07.14.09 at 10:42 pm ET|
LAS VEGAS — On Tuesday, Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck was in Las Vegas to discuss the state of the league at the NBA Board of Governor’s Meeting. Grousbeck was appointed to the Labor Relations Committee, and will serve as the chairman of the planning committee.
While out West, he told WEEI.com he is also focused on preparing for a successful season back in Boston.
‘We are continuing to try to do everything we can to win Banner 18,’ Grousbeck said. ‘We’re looking at our roster and figuring out what other help we need at which positions.’
The Celtics are not zoning in on a specific position, he said, but rather improving the overall team. One player he believes can help the Celtics next season is restricted free agent Glen Davis, whose name has been mentioned as a person of interest to several teams around the league.
‘We’d love to have Baby back,’ Grousbeck said.
They will also evaluate the players who participated in the Orlando Summer League earlier this month. As is the case with many teams, only a select few will have the chance to be contributors. Even though Lester Hudson broke his finger, Grousbeck mentioned the rookie ‘started off well.’
‘I think we liked seeing Lester Hudson and Billy (Walker) and J.R. (Giddens) and the other guys on the roster,’ he said. ‘Some of them will make the team and some won’t.’
As the Celtics piece together their roster for the 2010 season, the acquisition of Rasheed Wallace has been a hot topic of conversation at the Las Vegas Summer League. The signing, many NBA players have said, has put the Celtics back in contention after an injury-stricken postseason.
Grousbeck won’t argue with that.
‘I just looked at the Vegas odds and the Lakers are 2-to-1, Cleveland is 3-to-1, and we’re 4-to-1,’ he said. ‘So Vegas has us at 4-to-1. We’d like to win that bet.’
|07.13.09 at 7:49 pm ET|
LAS VEGAS — It’s a case of role reversal for Ryan Gomes.
Now it is Gomes’ turn to play the role of mentor. This week, he’s offering his knowledge to the Minnesota Timberwolves Summer League team in Las Vegas.
‘Even though I know time is flying and it’s going to be my fifth year, when you’ve got a lot of young guys on the team, you want to share some knowledge,’ Gomes said. ‘I don’t know it all and I don’t think there are a lot of people who do, but when you watch the games you want to help them to get better. As players, you’re always trying to help each other out.’
When Gomes isn’t helping the Timberwolves, he is improving his own game at Joe Abunassar’s Impact Basketball in Las Vegas, along with former Celtic Sebastian Telfair. The shortage of wing players on the Timberwolves means Gomes may have to play in the backcourt as well, and he is focusing on his game away from the basket to increase his shooting percentage.
Last season he averaged 13.3 points and 4.8 rebounds, shooting 43 percent from the field and 37 percent from three-point range.
‘We’ve just got to be prepared,’ he said. ‘We’ve got to be on our Ps and Qs because you just never know what can happen. It’s our job over the summertime when you’re not around the coaches and you can’t play in Summer League to work on your game and be ready for next year, and that’s what I’ve been doing.’
Gomes is not the only ex-Celtic looking to help the Timberwolves have a successful season. He noted Al Jefferson has been diligently rehabbing from ACL surgery to get back in the game as their leading scorer and rebounder.
‘He’s doing good. He’s way ahead of schedule,’ Gomes said. ‘He’s training hard and he’s on the court a little bit. We need him back, of course. He’s our All-Star, he’s the motor that goes, so hopefully next year we’ll have a good year.’
While he is focused on helping the Timberwolves win next season, the Celtics are still on his mind — even two years after being traded.
‘I’m still learning from Paul and I’ll still learn from Ray (Allen) and all those other guys because of the fact that they have knowledge of the game,’ he said. ‘Doc Rivers was great to me, Danny Ainge and those guys gave me an opportunity by drafting me, so I stay in touch with them and I still watch a lot of their games because when they made the trade, I knew what it was for. It was to win it.’
And that’s a good example to follow.
|07.12.09 at 11:00 pm ET|
LAS VEGAS — Hasheem Thabeet knows he has a lot to learn about the NBA. But be patient. The big man from UConn is working on it.
Thabeet made his summer league debut with the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday in Las Vegas. He admits there were challenges — like the 24-second shot clock and three-second violations — that he was not used to.
‘I’ve just got to go out there and try to get better playing on this level,’ he said following the Grizzlies’ 86-57 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder. ‘It’s really hard for me to adjust from college level and this level. I thought I was ready, but I just figured out I have a lot of stuff to work on.’
Thabeet scored nine points and grabbed two rebounds in 20 minutes. He was called for four personal fouls. Last season he averaged 13.6 points and 10.8 at UConn.
The Grizzlies had just five practices together before their first Summer League game. Gelling with his new teammates was made easier by the presence of Brookline native Jeff Adrien, whom Thabeet played with at UConn.
‘I’m learning. I’m learning. Every day I go over there I’m trying to get something out of it. Again, five practices since I was drafted by the team. We came out here today, we played hard, we played together,’ he said, adding, ‘That’s what I work on all the time in the gym, I work on my offense. I never really work on my defense. I go in the weight room and I work out there and then play ball.’
The Grizzlies coaching staff and Thabeet are on the same page as he prepares for his first season. They want the 7-foot-3 center to become more aggressive.
‘Just be the force,’ he said. ‘I always go out there and play my hardest to do what I can to help my team. Today was one of those days, my first game, I would go out there and shoot and when the game kept going, I kept getting comfortable and comfortable. I just want to get better. Every day I go out there, I want to be a better player.’
This fall, Thabeet will become the first person from Tanzania to play in the NBA.
‘To me it’s a blessing,’ he said. ‘I’ve been dreaming about this since I left Tanzania, one day I’d go do something for the whole nation. To be in this position, it’s a blessing.’
Sunday wasn’t Thabeet’s best performance. Stay tuned, though, because he has a lot more to prove.
‘I came along way and I’m going to keep working hard to get there,’ he said. ‘For me to get to this position, it took me a lot. Seven years ago I didn’t play basketball at all. Today I’m in this place, I worked hard to get to this position. To me, it’s not the end. It’s the beginning of a new career. I just want to go out there and play ball.’
|07.10.09 at 1:44 pm ET|
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