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This Time Last Year: Bill Walker

10.28.08 at 10:48 am ET
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Life changed instantly for Bill Walker when his named was called this summer in the NBA Draft. Tonight the 21-year-old rookie from Kansas State will join the Boston Celtics to watch them raise the 17th banner to the rafters and receive their world champion rings. As Walker tells us, a ring ceremony is leaps and bounds from where he was this time last year ‘€¦

Where were you on Opening Night last season?
I was in Manhattan, K-State, probably practicing. It’s about the same time but different levels. I think it’s harder here, though, preparing for a season than it was there.

Take me through the day leading up to your first game at Kansas State.
Get up, probably have class from 8 to 12, you go to study table, knock out all the homework. Usually I’d just go home, get dressed for pre-game, come in for shootaround, and I’d usually stay in the gym and wait for game time.

Must be nice not having study table this year.
It’s a relief but it’s a job now so that’s basically how I go about it. It’s an all day thing. I’m in here, shoot around, go home, rest up, and prepare for the game.

This season you don’€™t have to go back to a dorm either. How is it living away from campus?
It’s private, more personal. But I don’t know. I kind of miss just knocking on somebody’s door and starting up a conversation.

What do you miss the most about living with your college roommate, the Miami Heat‘€™s Michael Beasley?
I always had something to laugh at in the morning. From something we did yesterday or something we were going to do that day, I always had somebody to laugh at.

How did living with a potential number one draft pick push you to compete?
Oh man, we competed at everything. On the basketball side, out of basketball, video games, we competed in every thing. Everything was a competition. It teaches you a lot about yourself though. Especially when you go up against somebody that’s just as competitive as you are and he’s skilled in the same manner you are, that really challenges you.

So who was the messy one and who was the clean one?
You know what they say about boys, (laughs) we’re not really neat at all.

How do you expect Opening Night at the Garden to compare to the excitement of your first game at Kansas State?
Especially playing for the Celtics just coming off of a world championship and they’re going to raise the banner and get their rings, you can’t get any better than that so I’m pretty lucky.

Click here for more on “YouTube” Bill Walker

Read More: Bill Walker, Boston Celtics, Kansas State, Michael Beasley

Celtics Promote, Extend Ainge

10.28.08 at 6:02 am ET
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Today the Boston Celtics announced they have promoted Danny Ainge to President of Basketball Operations. He formerly held the joint title of Executive Director of Basketball Operations and General Manager.

The organization has also extended Ainge’s contract. Update: Jeff Goodman of FOXSports.com and WEEI.com has reported that the extension is through the 2011-2012 season. His previous contract would have expired after this season.

Last season Ainge was honored with the 2007-08 Executive of the Year award for transforming the Celtics from worst to first. Tonight he will receive his third world championship ring with the Celtics after winning two titles as a player in 1984 and 1986.

‘€œDanny has been a key part of building our World Championship team and basketball program,’€ said Boston Celtics Managing Partner and Co-owner Stephen Pagliuca. ‘€œHe represents all that is the best of Celtics Pride and we applaud his success.’€

Read More: Boston Celtics, Danny Ainge,

Cassell: What to Expect Defending a Title

10.27.08 at 12:49 pm ET
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Sam Cassell is the only player on the Boston Celtics who knows how it feels to defend an NBA championship. Not only that, he also knows what it takes to win two consecutive titles. Nearly 15 years after going back-to-back with the Houston Rockets, Cassell explains what the Celtics should expect heading into Opening Night.

On playing as an NBA champion: These guys got a grasp of that early in preseason. Everyone’s going to be giving us their best shot. Every game is going to be a big game. Every game.

On controlling emotions from the ring ceremony to focus on the game: You don’t control them. You don’t control them but our game plan is defense. If our offense ain’t hitting, our defense is going to be hitting so that’s the thing we live and die by, our defense. There’s no excuse if our defense isn’t up to par, so you’ll see our defense up to par and if our offense is struggling our defense will have to win the game for us.

On being a target for 82 games: Our big guys understand that and that’s why when we practice, our second unit goes after our starting unit, fouling and going after them, trying to frustrate them. But they’ve been doing a hell of a job just keeping their composure and understanding what’s at stake. And what’s at stake is winning.

On the reception in opposing arenas: Oh we’re on top of the mountain. We’re the Celtics and the majority of places we play at, we’ll have a lot of fans there ourselves. Everybody loves the champion no matter who they are. We’ve got great guys on our team and people really enjoy the way we play the game of basketball. We play it, we don’t taunt, we play hard.

On repeating the same success with different players this season: First of all, we’ve got to have the basketball gods on our side. Injuries, course of the NBA season, they happen. But we’ve also got to understand that every night is going to be a dog fight for us. So we’ve got to bring the fight. If we do that we’ll be fine.

On convincing the new Celtics to buy in to the system: Well they’ve got to. We don’t have too many new guys on this ball club but they’ve got to. They’ve got to understand. I told the guys I had a great summer last summer. I had a wonderful summer being a champ. That’s what we want to get back to. Everyone on this team had probably the best summer of their NBA career. For me it was blast because where I came from and where I ended up at, I went from last to first in a matter of 48 hours.

On putting last season behind them: It’s forgotten. It’s forgotten. We haven’t done anything yet. It’s all over. Doc emphasizes that every day in practice that it’s all over. After one night we’re just the world champions, it’s just a title. So we’re trying to get that back again.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Sam Cassell,

Kobe, A-Rod Sing and Dance into Your Homes

10.26.08 at 10:08 pm ET
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Just in time for Opening Night, Kobe Bryant is now singing and dancing his way into your homes through your TV sets. And he’s bringing a friend along, too. His name is A-Rod.

Bryant and Rodriguez, along with Michael Phelps and Tony Hawk, are featured in a new commercial for Guitar Hero. The ad is a throwback to “Risky Business” with the four men donning pink button down shirts and white boxers. Click here to check it out!

Notice how Kobe’s shorts are longer. He’s probably sensitive to the idea of anything above the knee after this incident.

Read More: A-Rod, Alex Rodriguez, Kobe Bryant, Michael Phelps

Notes from practice: Pierce jams index finger

10.25.08 at 11:27 am ET
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Notes from Saturday’s practice:

  • After practicing with his right hand wrapped in tape, Paul Pierce revealed that he jammed his right index finger during Friday’s practice. The medical tape was a preventative measure and Doc Rivers is not concerned. Aside from some soreness, Pierce isn’t anticipating any problems.
  • Rivers was pleased with his team’s high energy today after a less-than-impressive practice yesterday. He is ready to leave last season behind him and has everything in place to kick off the new season on Tuesday.
  • Age knows no boundaries with Sam Cassell. The 38-year-old vet challenged Rivers’ teenage son Austin to a competitive one-on-one battle after practice. Adam Jones, who Rivers recently gained legal guardianship of, was next on Cassell’s radar — “You next, red shorts, you next!”
  • Leon Powe was the last to leave the court, working on his free throws. Kendrick Perkins and Patrick O’Bryant also spent a while at the basket together working on 10′ jumpers.
  • Stephen A. Smith is in Waltham to interview the Big Three for ESPN.

Celtics Entertain at Shamrock Foundation Gala

10.25.08 at 10:46 am ET
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Winning an NBA title is cause for celebration and on Friday night the Boston Celtics shared their excitement at the Shamrock Foundation’s World Championship Gala. Members of the team held little back as they entertained the crowd with anecdotes, jokes, and even an operatic performance when emcee Glenn Ordway passed the mic to Paul Pierce. Highlights included:

  • Eddie House gave his best Ray Allen impersonation while explaining the definition of ‘€œUbuntu.’€ Word is House doesn’t need to practice that anymore … he does it so often it’s like second nature by now.
  • Big Baby shimmied across the stage doing his best take on KG’s dance moves. If Davis’ impression is any indication of the real thing, let’s just say ‘€œDancing With the Stars’€ won’t be calling Garnett any time soon.
  • Pierce invited rookies J.R. Giddens and Bill Walker to the stage for a public display of rookie initiation. The two sang an off-key rendition of ‘€œI Believe I Can Fly’€ which sounded more like Sanjaya than R. Kelly when Giddens tried to hit a high note.

When all was said and done, the gala raised $1.5 million to benefit the Celtics Shamrock Foundation, which provides education and support for charities in and around the Boston area.

The ornate 2008 World Championship rings were revealed and featured a diamond encrusted emerald shamrock. The big ticket auction item was a personalized championship ring, which went for $15,000.

Other auction items featured autographed memorabilia from the Boston Celtics and around the NBA, including celebratory photographs of the Big Three, an oversized cover of the Sporting News with Paul Pierce and David Ortiz, a basketball signed by members of the 2007-08 Celtics and Lakers squads, and a pair of sneakers worn by Dwight Howard. Guests were also able to bid on the opportunity to dine with the 2008 Championship trophy for the evening.

Read More: Bill Walker, Boston Celtics, Glen Davis, J.R. Giddens

NBA Approves Expanded Use of Instant Replay

10.23.08 at 12:44 pm ET
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Today the NBA Board of Governors voted to allow the expanded use of instant replay by game officials. The new sanction will begin this season and can be enacted in the following situations, as explained in an official league release:

  • To determine at any point during a game whether a field goal was correctly scored as a two- or three-point field goal, and, for the purposes of awarding the correct number of free throws, whether a shooter was fouled while taking a two- or three-point attempt.*
  • When the game clock malfunctions during a play concluding with no time remaining on the clock (0:00) at the end of any quarter or overtime period.^

*With respect to the first scenario, review would occur at the discretion of the game officials, and would be based on a conclusion by the crew that they cannot be reasonably certain whether the shot was a two- or three-pointer.

^In the second scenario, game officials are currently required to reconstruct the timing of a play occurring during a clock malfunction; the use of replay would enable them to do so with substantially greater accuracy.

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