|Irish Coffee: Boston Charity Classic leftovers (mmm … leftovers)||11.22.11 at 2:34 pm ET|
How fleeting Rajon Rondo‘s Boston Charity Classic was, providing Celtics fans a glimpse of the past, present and future for just one Saturday night before the cold reality of the NBA lockout endures into the winter. All that remains is this highlight package I put together and a few interesting quotes from the postgame interviews. It is the week of Thanksgiving after all, so here are some leftovers from what was a fun evening on the Harvard campus.
CELTICS CAPTAIN PAUL PIERCE
On decertifications: “A lot of players looked to me for leadership when they talk about negotiations, when they talk about options, when they talk about decertification. A lot of guys ask me, and what I did with that was just kind of give them the information. At the end of the day, as a whole, players gotta make a vote — make a choice whether to negotiate, decertify or file an antitrust lawsuit.”
On negotiations: “Right now, I want to get a deal. I want to play. I don’t have too many more years left. But we want the right deal. I think that’s the most important thing.”
On ultimatums: “We don’t feel like it’s a fair deal. If we did, we would have signed it, obviously. Maybe some players do, some players don’t, but as a majority we didn’t feel that was the right deal for us. … If I had a vote, would I make the deal now? You know what? I don’t think the deal that’s on the table is a deal that I would take.”
On meetings: “I wasn’t at the last couple meetings, so it kind of took me by surprise that last day when they broke up the union. So, a lot of that really took me by surprise, but I don’t think it was mentioned to bring it to the whole body, the whole union for a vote. The player representatives get a vote, and we’re at where we’re at.”
On veterans: “A lot of the older guys are kind of different players in this, because it’s for the older guys to say, ‘Take the deal, we already have contracts, we’re on our last two or three years and finish out.’ But it’s something bigger than everybody’s individual legacy. It’s about the future of the league, and that’s what we talked about when we get together. Me, Ray [Allen], Kobe [Bryant], guys who are veterans in the league — we feel like that’s the most important thing moving forward with the NBA.”
On lockouts: I remember when I came out as a rookie, I didn’t lose anything, because I didn’t have anything. So, it was like just sit down, work and wait to get ready. The guys who are on their rookie contracts who have been in a year or two, they’re more in a different position. They’re probably buying homes from their brothers, their mothers, thinking they’re going to be on their rookie deal. They’re in a tighter situation, so I can understand why they want to sign the deal, but it’s a fine line.
“You have players who want to sign, you have players who know what’s at stake — that have been through the ins and outs of the last two collective bargaining agreements — and that’s the reason we’re standing where we’re at.”
On overseas: “I’ve been thinking about it, truthfully. I love the game of basketball. It’s a shame I’m sitting at home not playing, so it’s definitely crossed my mind. Maybe I’ll think about it around mid-December if I can see that there is no future of the league starting this year, then that’s definitely a strong possibility.”
On lawsuits: “I think both sides want to play, because both sides are equally losing. I mean, regardless of the owners waiting out the players or who’s got deeper pockets and all that stuff, I still believe they want to be out on the court, the players want to be out on the court. For them, they feel it’s about the right situation, and so do we, so we’re at a stalemate. … I really don’t want it to go to court, but that’s a real possibility now. Hopefully within the next month we can get back to the table and strike a deal.
On Celtics: “We’re not getting any younger. KG [Kevin Garnett] and Ray are on the last years of their deals, so we don’t really know the future as far as after the year, especially with those two guys. We have [Rajon] Rondo locked in for a couple more years after that, but who knows what direction the team is going to go in after that, so that’s a huge concern.”
On [Big] babies: “I think a lot of my teammates understand what’s going on. Maybe the one player that didn’t understand was Big Baby [Glen Davis], but I had a chance to talk to him last week. He was out in California. Everybody understands what’s at stake and what’s going on.”
On fans: “We love the fans. When Rondo called me and asked me to do this, it was like an instant yes. It was like, ‘Yeah, of course I’m going to come out for the fans who support us, especially in Boston. I walked around the streets today, and I get people asking, ‘When is the season going to start?’ There’s been no negativity. The fans are hungry for basketball. They’re still excited, and hopefully we can get back on the court soon.”
On exhibitions: “I feel like you’re going to see a barrage of pickup games if the season is canceled. You’ve already seen a plethora of them. You’ve got two more tomorrow — one in Houston, one in San Francisco — but my older legs I like to preserve them a little bit more just in case there is a season. If there’s a 50- or 60-game season, advantage Celtics. I think the last four years we’ve probably been the best team in the first three months of the season.”
CELTICS POINT GUARD RAJON RONDO
On meetings: “I went to the last meeting that we had in New York, and we had a pretty good meeting. A lot of guys showed up from different teams to support, show camaraderie by coming together and make a decision. Me, personally, I didn’t think it was a fair deal.”
On negotiations: “Everybody is itching to play basketball. Everybody wants to play basketball on both sides. The owners want to see us playing, and the guys want to be out there playing as well. Hopefully we can come together for some type of agreement before it’s too late.”
On rumors: “Unless you’re actually in the meeting, you hear different things once that meeting is adjourned. The people that are in the meetings on both sides know what’s going on. It just a matter of just compromising.
On fans: “The fans were great. I can’t thank them enough. They’re the reason we’re able together to help the charities. There’s three organizations once we tally up the money that we plan on donating to. This is a great time of giving. That’s what it’s all about.”
On charities: “I’m thinking about doing some other things. I’m just trying to help people right now. I’m Ok as far as my family financially, so I’m just trying to give back to the community — not just in Boston but back home in Kentucky as well.”
On overseas: You never know. I’m still here being a family man and just trying to do the right thing and staying in shape. I probably won’t make that decision until January. Me and Perk [Kendrick Perkins] have talked about doing package deals, but right now we’re just enjoying our time. For me, it’s a gift and a curse. I’m trying to get as healthy as possible with all my injuries. But I’m ready to play.”
On Celtics: “I know you think guys are old, but I see them daily. I know they’re working, and they’re three of the hardest workers on the team. They’re always in the best shape. Obviously, it takes a wear and tear on your body with the age, but they’re in the weight room, they’re in the gym, getting extra cardio in. I’m not worried about those guys. It’s just the guys we bring in. We only have, what, five or six guys on contracts.”
On coaches: “I called Deion [Branch] like four days ago. He pulled it out of nowhere. I looked at their schedule and saw that they play on Monday, and they played last Sunday, so I had a feeling they would be off. He came through. He played at Louisville, so I’ve known Deion. I got upset one time at him. Other than that, he did a pretty good job. He called some key timeouts for us to get the win.”
On recoveries: “It’s a blessing to see Marquis [Daniels] back out on the floor. A lot of people didn’t expect him to play anymore. A lot of prayers were said for him. He’s back out there healthy, running up and down.”
FORMER CELTICS CENTER KENDRICK PERKINS
On homecomings: “I never knew how much I missed being here until I got back in here, but I definitely miss the whole city of Boston, the whole area of New England. It just felt good to be back playing basketball in Boston, so it definitely was a good feeling and a whole lot of fun today.
“It’s always overwhelming. You try to catch yourself from dropping a tear or something like that, but like I always say, the city has been good to me since I came into the NBA as a young man at 18, so I never take it for granted. I definitely appreciate all the support when I come back to the New England area. I hated to leave — to go back to the point — but God does everything for a reason. Boston and all of the New England area is still in my heart, so it was fun to be back. …
“I was kind of nervous at first, just stepping back out there, but it’s not going to be my last time coming to Boston. I was just happy I was able to play in front of the fans and be able to see some old faces, so it’s cool.”
On workouts: “I’ve been rehabbing a lot, trying to take a lot of pressure off my knees and just going from there. I’ve just been working hard. I thought the season was going to start, but it hasn’t yet, so I’m going to continue to work and whenever the season starts try to go from there. I was just happy about playing basketball. Rajon called me and said he was calling a game, I told him I’d be the first to be here. It’s good to be back here. It’s just love.”
On meetings: “The crazy thing about it is that I never made one meeting. I figure it’s really not in my control. Whenever we come to an agreement, I feel like we’re going to come to an agreement that’s fair for both sides. I haven’t been worrying to much about it. I have been worrying about it, because it’s my livelihood and I do want to play basketball, but as far as going to the meetings and doing all the talking and negotiating, not really. I’ve just been working out and staying in shape.”
On negotiations: “Every guy feels different, in my eyes. I feel like some guys may want to take the deal, some guys say they don’t want to take the deal, or whatever it may be, but I think the biggest thing for the players is that we’ve got to stick together and stay on the same page, because we know the owners are going to do the same.
“I just think right now if everybody put their pride aside we can get a deal done. I think both sides are being really prideful. I think if both sides dropped their pride and came in with an open mind and an open heart, we can get a deal done.
“It’s hard to say, just for the simple fact that you never know. You never know until it’s put in front of your face what you’ll sign and what you’ll agree to. Sooner or later, we’re going to have to get something done. It’s not fair to the fans, it’s not fair to people who love the game of basketball. It’s not fair to the players. It’s not fair to the owners. I think we need to just hurry up, get something done for both sides and roll from there.”
On unions: “I think guys are sticking together. It’s something that we’re going to have to do for it to be fair for both sides. If you notice, the players aren’t the ones that are asking for everything. We’re always made to look like we’re the bad guys, but sooner or later both guys have to put their pride aside and go into the meeting with an open mind and an open heart to get something done. Otherwise, there’s no reason to keep meeting if your’e going to come in with the same attitude.”
On lockouts: “I know where my heart is. I’m just ready to play the game of basketball. It’s not a financial situation or nothing to that nature, but it’s time to play basketball. It’s cold outside, it’s the month of November, and you’re used to getting the season cranked off. I’m ready to play, but at the same time I gotta understand that business is business. It wasn’t no different from me being traded than for us negotiating for what’s fair for both sides. I’m just sitting back, patiently waiting and just doing what I gotta do and not worrying about what I can’t control.”
On trades: “Yeah, I’m hurt, surprised. I think it really still hasn’t hit me yet. I think everything happened so fast last year, from me coming back from my ACL injury to straining my MCL to getting traded the next day, going to a young Oklahoma City team that I have to be a leader and stuff like that. It still hurts that I did get traded, but then again at the same time the City of Oklahoma has been great to me, too. They’ve embraced me with open arms, and I have no complaints about the city, the whole organization — from Kevin [Durant] on down to Sam Presti to Troy Weaver — they all welcomed me with open arms. Yes, I do miss Boston, but Oklahoma is a great place.”
On injuries: “I’m not dealing with the knee right now, but last year during the playoffs I was. I was out there, so I was trying to give what I give. I always say if you’re out there, you’re out there for a reason, so you’ve gotta do what you gotta do.”
(Have a question, concern or conception for tomorrow’s Irish Coffee? Send a message to @brohrbach on Twitter.)