|The Reverend Keyon Dooling and the value of flexin’||05.23.12 at 12:41 pm ET|
PHILADELPHIA — Larry Brown had a question for Doc Rivers regarding his bench. “Do you have anybody like Posey?” Brown asked. “You need someone on your bench to tell the starters the truth.”
Ah, James Posey. For years the Celtics have been trying to recapture the spirit and toughness of the no-nonsense Posey who demanded respect on his first day on the job and proved to be an invaluable cog in the 2008 championship team.
The player who personifies the 2012 reserves is veteran guard Keyon Dooling. He had an up-and-down regular season, but in the playoffs he’s given them 10 minutes a night of pressure defense and 52 percent shooting. Along with Marquis Daniels, he also began the goofy dance sequence on the bench they call “Flexin’” that has become something of an impromptu craze.
Often described as the consummate teammate and a coach in-waiting, Dooling’s value goes beyond the good times on the bench. At halftime of Game 5, he laid it on the starters. Dubbed a “sermon from Rev. Dooling” by Brandon Bass, he told them to play for each other.
Dooling declined to go into specifics on his halftime talk, saying, “That ain’t for me to talk about. That’s for others to talk about. I don’t need to self-promote my halftime speeches.”
The specifics don’t matter as much as the intent and there’s no doubt his words had an impact.
“It’s one thing for the coach to say it, it’s a whole different ballgame when somebody in the locker room says it,” Rivers said. “It’s tough for the starters to say it to each other because it was them. You need a guy to do it with credibility and Keyon has that.”
How does a player who’s been out and out of the rotation and plays less than 10 minutes a night earn credibility on a team stacked with All-Stars and future Hall of Famers?
“With his work ethic,” Rivers said. “Credibility to me is consistency. If you’re consistent with your actions every day, whether things are going well for you or not, you think about Keyon there’s been times when he’s been out of the rotation, he’s been injured. But he’s a pro. When you have that it’s pretty easy to follow.”
Added Dooling, “You’ve got to respect years. Everybody knows how hard it is to have an NBA career that last for 12 seasons. You’ve got to have a sense of respect for it.”
Dooling’s been been instrumental in helping a team with eight new players forge some kind of an identity beyond their core four and there’s no doubt he has everyone’s respect.