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An older, more mature, Von Wafer

08.10.10 at 2:30 pm ET
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For many the enduring image of Von Wafer in an NBA uniform is when Rockets coach Rick Adelman sent him back to the locker room during a playoff game. Wafer apologized the next day, but the damage had been done.

The Rockets didn’t renew his contract, even after a breakout year in which he averaged almost 10 points a game, and he spent a year in exile.

“I just acted out at the wrong time,” Wafer said. “I love Coach Adelman. He’s the first coach who gave me an opportunity to play. I never talked back to him. I just acted out at the wrong moment. It cost me. It cost me a lot. That just can’t happen.”

Wafer signed with a team in Greece, but he bought his way out of his contract and his attempts to return to the NBA were thwarted when it was reported that he failed physicals in Memphis and Houston. The Mavericks eventually did sign him to a 10-day contract but he never saw action.

Wafer said that he’s fine physically and that mentally he’s a much stronger player. He knows he has a lot to prove this season.

“I didn’t want to go out that way,” he said. “A lot of bad things were said about me. That’s why I’m here early trying to get ready. This is a big year for me. I can’t go out like that. I’ve got too much pride. I’m more mature now. I know how this business works. You work hard, keep your mouth shut and stay out of trouble and you’re going to be blessed and fortunate.”

The biggest knock on Wafer is his defense, which he also acknowledged. “Not good,” he said. “I’ve heard bad things about my defense. I think I’m an okay defender. The name of the game is putting more points up on the board than the other team.”

Wafer will find out soon enough that okay doesn’t cut it defensively with the Celtics, but he is more prepared for the challenge.

“I had a lot of ups and downs, mostly downs, but it made me stronger,” Wafer said. “I actually became a better basketball player last year. Most people might not believe it, but mentally, I’m definitely better. Physically, that will come, but the mental, I needed that.”

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