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Finley: Not going to ‘hurt what they already have’

03.07.10 at 7:18 pm ET
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Looking at the big picture, it’s perfectly clear why Michael Finley is in a Celtics uniform today. After all, familiarity is a powerful thing.

Finley and his new head coach both hail from the Windy City, and it was in Chicago where their bond began in the late 1970s while Finley’s sister and Doc Rivers were at Proviso East High School.

“Well, me and Doc go way back,” Finley explained. “My sister was a cheerleader and he was the star basketball player at the high school games, and I used to sit under the basket and watch him play. That’s how far our relationship goes back. He’s always been a mentor for me, how to be a professional and how to be a man. He’s a role model for me and it goes way back, I’ve watched his career as a basketball player and as a coach, and it’s definitely an honor for me to play for him.”

Finley said his familiarity with the organization, from general manager Danny Ainge to coach Doc Rivers and players Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, made Boston a good fit for him. He said he had talks with another “championship” caliber team before deciding on the Celtics.

“I’ve talked to Doc and Danny, and coach was very honest with me, which I respect that he doesn’t know how he is going to use me,” Finley said. “I have to respect that. I am coming to a situation, where the team is already established. They have put in ‘X’ amount of games, so for me to come in and try to establish a role would be crazy for me to even think that. But coach has put me in a situation at ease, where he doesn’t know, I don’t know, just when my situation comes just go out there and play hard and do what I can to help the team be a better one. I think that I am able to do that.”

There’s also another practical matter for Finley, who turned 37 on Saturday, the day he landed — literally — in Boston.

“It gave me an opportunity to challenge for a title,” Finley said. “All those things combined with the over history of Boston just drew me here.”

Finley, who suffered what he called a severe ankle injury in December, said he’s ready to play and will wear the No. 40. Rivers held him out of Sunday’s game against the Wizards as he just arrived in Boston Saturday night.

Finley was also honest about his less-than-ideal situation in San Antonio, which precipitated his release last week.

“This all happened within a week, a week or two span,” Finley admitted. “It was something that started as something little and I think it just erupted. I think both sides, myself and the Spurs organization, there was a mutual split. I have no hard feelings with them, it was just something they were willing to do, and I was man enough to be ready to make that move.

“It was frustrating because of the situation I was in at San Antonio, but I think all players at my age and that have been in the league as long as I have experience that. Unfortunately for me, I couldn’t finish something that I had in San Antonio because the role was something that I really didn’t agree with. But here, hopefully the situation will be different, but you never know, it may be the same. But I’m happy with my situation now and I’m definitely going to make the most of it.”

More highlights from Michael Finley pregame:

What kind of opportunity is it to be in Boston? “As you all know this is a great organization, a great opportunity to play with some great players. It gave me the opportunity to challenge for a title, and those things combined with just an overall history of Boston just drew me here. I am glad to be here.”

What kind of impact will he have on the Celtics? “I don’t know, that’s the big question. I just think that I will not hurt anything that they have. This was already a great team without me. Just come in maybe just do a little veteran expertise, whether that be on the court or in the locker room. Just doing what ever I can to make this team a better one. But, like I said this was already a great team before I got here, so I think that my edition is not going to be that big of an impact, if any, but I am just happy and excited to be here.”

What is the situation like for him here? “I think that is a positive for me. It’s a situation where a lot of things in the playoffs I have experienced, as a ‘star’ and as a role player. I could relate to pretty much everybody on the team when it comes to playoff experience. What it takes sometimes to get over the hump, whether in a series or even in a game, or as basic as a possession, so hopefully my credibility will speak for itself. It’s a great group of guys, so I will not be the guy in there talking a lot and getting annoying. I will just speak when I think is needed for me to say something, but again I am just excited to be here.”

What role does he expect to have? “I don’t know. Like I said, this team was already a great one before I came. So for me to come in and say I’m going to do this and do that, it would be unfair for me and it would be unfair for the team. I’m just going to come in and play hard, do whatever the coach wants me to do. Hopefully I can come in and be productive and help the team.”

What teams pursued him and how did he land in Boston? “It was a handful of other teams, not only playoff teams but championship-contending teams that were contacting my agent. I just felt comfortable with the Celtics, with the pieces that they have in place, with the coach, obviously, and with some of the players I already have a relationship with. My transition here has been an easy one because of that. I have a relationship with Ray [Allen], Marquis [Daniels], I’ve known Paul [Pierce] through the years, drafted with Kevin [Garnett] and Rasheed [Wallace], so the relationships on the team are already there, so it was easy for me to just come in and almost be one of the guys right away.”

Biggest adjustment: “I think the biggest adjustment for me is just trying to come in and be perfect right away. In a situation like this, I want to help so badly, I want to do all the perfect things, I put a lot of pressure on myself and that can be detrimental not only to me but the team as well. I’m just going to try to ease in, ease my role, and just ultimately play basketball.”

What number will he wear? “Well all the good numbers were taken, I was going to go for 33, that was gone, 32 was gone, so I decided on 40. I couldn’t get 4, I was two weeks too late to get my number 4 with Nate Robinson coming over, so I just added an imaginary zero to it and made it 40.”

Is his ankle 100 percent? “Yeah, I’m still doing rehab, it was a severe ankle injury that happened back in December, so my rehab will continue for the remainder of this year and probably throughout the summer, but I’m very confident in it. I talked to the training staff here, and they’re an excellent one that I’m just learning the past couple of days. With that being said, I’m ready to go.”

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