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The Champ Returns Home

12.26.08 at 2:37 pm ET

Leon Powe is one of the most down-to-earth players in the NBA. But even he can’t hide his pride of winning a championship, especially when he returns to the Bay Area for the Boston Celtics west coast road trip.

‘€œIt feels great. When I go back home whether it’s Oakland, LA, they call me the champ. I told them that’s my new name,’€ Powe said with a laugh. ‘€œBut it feels good just going back and seeing my family.’€

Being called champ means nothing compared to spending time with his six younger siblings, all of whom Powe takes care of in one way or another. Playing against the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings this weekend will allow them to catch their big brother in action.

‘€œIt’s going to be great for me,’€ Powe said. ‘€œI’ve got my little brothers and sisters back there — I’ve got a lot of them — and they’ve been following each and every game. That’s big for me and them.’€

Powe has more ties to the Bay Area community than just his family. The Oakland native runs free basketball clinics at the ‘€œPowe Folks’€ Camp — ‘€œI don’t really need the money like that, so I let the kids in,’€ he explains ‘€“ and is developing a family services program to pair children with mentors and offer them life skills and guidance.

On the court he is teaching his opponents a lesson of his own ‘€“ don’t send him to the line. Powe ranks second among all NBA reserves in free throws. He has also gotten to the line more than any of his teammates except for Paul Pierce. To put that in perspective, he has taken 41 more free throws than Kevin Garnett in 493 less minutes.

‘€œWhatever you do, make it aggressive,’€ Powe said. ‘€œI’m more confident, settled down out there. So whenever [Celtics coach Doc Rivers] puts me out there, I know what I want to do and how I want to do it. I’m taking my time instead of rushing my shots. If I have a smaller guy on me I’ll take my time, knowing I can get anything I want. And just reading the scouting reports, too.’€

This weekend the scouting report on Powe should read, aggressive power player hungry for a win in front of his family.

‘€œI just like the physical play,’€ he said. ‘€œI don’t shy away from contact.’€

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