NEWPORT, R.I. — Day three at Salve Regina and things remain loose for the Celtics at training camp. Nate Robinson spent the last half-hour of the session wearing Shaquille O’Neal’s size 22 sneakers, running sprints and trying to dunk (funny for the first five minutes, then it turned into a fake-laugh fest. Also wearing sneakers three times your size is probably not the best way to avoid an injury). A fan — a dead ringer for Frenchy from “Goodfellas” — somehow walked into a back door to the gym and was met by Shaquille O’Neal and Kevin Garnett, who both hugged and danced with the guy for about 30 seconds. It’s been that kind of scene so far at Rodgers Recreation Center.
“A lot of personality in our practices, I can say that,” Doc Rivers said Thursday.
“Really, really loose and fun,” said Ray Allen. “But we know when that has to end.”
“Chemistry has been very good, needless to say,” said Garnett, who later added. “It’s a loose environment around here. That’s until we hit the floor and all hell breaks loose.”
DOC WILL LET AUSTIN HAVE THE STAGE
Rivers wouldn’t exactly confirm reports that his son Austin — considered to be the top high school player in the country by many — has committed to Duke, but he got about as close as you can without actually confirming. Make sense? How about I just give you the quote:
“He’s leaning there [Duke],” said Rivers. “Most likely he’ll commit in the next few days, but it’s not official yet. I’ll wait and let him do it.”
YOUR DAILY DOSE OF SHAQ
Local TV Guy: Hey Shaq, get a chance to hang around Newport at all?
Shaq: I went to the Barking Crab — I got the fish, went around the other day, looked at a couple of the yachts. Tried to steal one but I couldn’t find the keys.
Local TV Guy: You know how to drive a yacht?
Shaq: Of course. What do you think?
SO THAT’S WHY ‘SHEED RETIRED
Rivers was asked about the new guidelines for technical fouls. This season, referees have been instructed to call a T for making aggressive gestures anywhere on the court, hitting his own arm to demonstrate how his was fouled, running at a ref to complain about a call and excessive inquires, even if there is no yelling or foul language.
“We’re going to set the record this year,” joked Rivers about his team, who have led the NBA in technical fouls in each of the last two years. “Last year we fell short of the technical record, we’re going to go get it this year. Gotta have a go.”
Rivers said that he hadn’t talked about the new rules yet with his players, instead choosing to wait for the league officials to show the tape that will demonstrate what is no longer permissible.
LAST MAN OUT
Same as Tuesday and Wednesday, Delonte West was the last Celtics player to leave the gym, shooting jumpers a good 20 minutes after most of his teammates had left.
(Paul Flannery has a look at what is really a mulligan for Delonte in Boston this year.)
SOMETHING MAYBE ONLY I CARE ABOUT
Always wondered if it peeved O’Neal that Christian Laettner was the college player chosen for the Dream Team in 1992. This was a chance to play with Bird, Magic and Jordan, after all, and a case could have been made that Shaq was more “Day One” ready for that level of play. So, 18 years later, I have my answer:
“Coming out of college Laettner was probably a better player than me. I was more dominant. A lot of guys are masters at certain things, Christian Laettner was a fundamental [expletive, something about a mother if memory serves]. But I was more dominant, I was more mean. I wanted to be picked, yeah. But no one told me, I don’t even know if I was next after Laettner. I was just at home one day and my dad came in pissed. He broke a lamp and said ‘How’d they pick that [same expletive] over you?’ I was like ‘What are you talking about?’ He said ‘They picked Laettner over you.’ He was pissed. But it was cool. I was happy to be picked for Dream Team 2 and keep it going.”