|Brandon Bass: ‘When my name is called, I’ll be ready’||10.25.12 at 4:54 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Celtics coach Doc Rivers indicated he already knows whether Brandon Bass or Jared Sullinger will start against the defending NBA champion Heat on opening night, but he’s not showing his cards, and Bass doesn’t seem interested in discussing whether he’s in that five-card draw or not, either. If he even knows.
“I’m confident in my work ethic — that when my name is called, I’ll be ready,” said Bass. “You’ve got to take care of what you can take care of, and that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to continue to work hard and do what I do. That’s what got me here, and that’s how I’m going to continue to grow as a player.”
When the curtains came up on Thursday’s practice, Bass wore a green t-shirt along with the four known starters: Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Courtney Lee and Rajon Rondo. (Jason Terry conceded what everyone already assumed: He’ll spare Rondo and Lee off the bench in Avery Bradley‘s absence.) Sullinger wore white.
“I think that’s all Doc,” added Bass. “Doc sees that we have a talented group and we have more pieces than we had last year, and he’s just trying to see which group works best with who and things of that nature. But, being a player, you just play, continue to work on your game and just be able to make a play when your name is called.”
After Rivers started Sullinger in Game 2 of the preseason, the questions began, eliciting a “no comment” from Bass in mid-October. Then again, Bass didn’t comment much when he scored a career-high 27 points in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the 76ers, so the silence surrounding his starting job is only natural.
Read between the lines of this response to Doc’s statement (“If you could play 10-on-10, we would beat everybody”) about the depth of this Celtics bench: “If he said it is, it is,” said Bass. “I’m just playing. If he said it is, that’s what it is.”
Whether Sullinger starts over him or not, that’s not going to change how Bass approaches the season. In the end, while he admitted “there’s always doubt in free agency when you’ve got other teams offering you,” Bass chose to re-sign in Boston for one reason (beyond the $20 million monetary incentive).
“As a player, you want to win,” said Bass. “That’s when your name lives on. I want my son to remember his dad playing in the NBA, and how you do that when your kid’s so young is by playing on a team that wins.”
If starting Sullinger and pairing Bass with what Terry called “the deepest bench in basketball” means the Celtics win, then Bass won’t complain. At least not publicly. Instead, he’ll concern himself with what he can control.
“For me, it’s just letting your work ethic do the talking for you,” said Bass. “I just think that no matter what comes, no matter any obstacle, I feel like with work ethic I can get through it.”
That’s what earned Bass a permanent starting job midway through last season. That’s what made him one of the better midrange shooting bigs in the league (“Leave me open,” he joked. “I want to be open.”). And that’s what turned him into one of the game’s best post defenders last year, according to MySynergySports.com statistics.
“I’m a prideful defender, so I’m going to bring my pridefulness to the team,” he said. “I don’t like to be scored on, and here I’ve developed watching Kevin Garnett and the veterans talk on defense. I’m becoming a better talker, and that alone makes you a better defender. I’m growing on the defensive end. I’m more confident than last year.”
Just don’t expect Bass to talk much off the court, starter or not.
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