|Tom ‘Satch’ Sanders on the doorstep of basketball immortality||08.11.11 at 11:30 pm ET|
SPRINGFIELD — For all basketball players collegiate, pro, and otherwise, of all places, Springfield, is their desired destination. Reason? That is the locale for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Sometimes the road to the Hall of Fame is a short trip, especially for those players fortunate enough to be elected on the first ballot like 2009’s inductees of Jordan, Robinson, and Stockton. For many others, that road is a long and winding one as years go by and the call from Springfield goes without being dialed.
This year’s induction class includes a headline-grabbers like Dennis Rodman, basketball legends of the Big Apple, innovative coaches, and unsung heroes. Former Celtic Tom “Satch” Sanders certainly fits into the final category.
The Celtics forward will be going into the Hall of Fame as a contributor, which is a distinction befitting a player who amassed eight championship rings playing for legends of the sport and Hall of Famers in their own right, Red Auerbach and Bill Russell and amongst a litany of Hall of Famers including Russell, Bill Sharman, Frank Ramsey, Sam Jones, KC Jones, John Havlicek, and Sanders’ presenter for Friday’s enshrinement Tommy Heinsohn.
Despite playing for Auerbach on a half-dozen NBA Championship squads, the legendary coach was not considered to be a fan of Satch’s game on the offensive end of the floor.
“Red (Auerbach) was not sold on the fact that I had a solid offensive game,” Sanders told reporters at Thursday’s Hall of Fame Enshrinement press conferences.
Sanders was able to get a sizeable amount out of that game in a 13-year-career where he finished with 9.6 points per game, 6.3 rebounds per game, and 1.1 assists per game. At first glance, those numbers are a meager contribution, but those eight championships that he was a part of show the richest portrait of a player who personified the distinction of a, “contributor.”
The contribution that Sanders brought to the parquet floor night in and night out was not lost on the team that drafted him eighth overall in 1960, as the team retired his number ‘16’ in 1973, a year after his playing career came to a close.
Thursday’s press conferences were held in the de facto court of basketball royalty. That hardwood hierarchy included many former teammates and opponents.
That group of people and the magnitude possessed by them within the sport of basketball was not lost on Sanders as he spoke to the media on Thursday afternoon.
“I know a heck of a lot of these people here and it makes me nervous. Real nervous,” he said of those in attendance on Thursday.
On Friday night, Sanders will join an exclusive hardwood fraternity, the very same one that brought on Thursday afternoon’s nerves.
Sometimes the road to enshrinement in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame is a long one like the one travelled by Tom “Satch” Sanders. His enshrinement shows that no matter how initially meager a contribution on the road to championship basketball may first look, the impact of that contribution is to be recognized.
|More Than Money Brought Daniels to the Green||09.04.09 at 5:37 pm ET|
Most professional athletes today tend to live up to Rod Tidwell from the 1996 film Jerry Maguire’s credo of “Show me the Money.”
Such is not the case with newly-signed Celtic Marquis Daniels. Daniels had several offers to sign for more elsewhere, but decided to leave money on the table to sign with the Celtics by inking a one-year deal, reportedly for Boston’s $1.99 million biannual exception.
“I had other situations where I could’ve went and made more money,” Daniels said. “But I wanted to be a part of a great franchise and a winning franchise.”
That new franchise that Daniels joins now boasts a new and improved bench that includes former starters Rasheed Wallace and Glen Davis as well as former Duke University All-American Shelden Williams. Daniels had a career year last season with the Pacers, averaging a career-high 13.6 points and 4.6 rebounds per game.
According to Celtics GM Danny Ainge, Daniels has been a player the Celtics brass has coveted since the Auburn-product entered the NBA with the Dallas Mavericks during the 2003-2004 campaign. Ainge also suggested that, even before he was hired in Boston, now-Celtics coach Doc Rivers has followed the 28-year-old.
“I went and watched him play in his first Summer League game,” Ainge said. “I asked myself, ‘how did we miss that guy?’”
The acquisition bringing Daniels to the Celtics was drawn out over seven long weeks until the signing was finalized and deemed official on Friday. Even the press conference to announce the deal was delayed for an hour and a half as the final t’s were crossed and i’s dotted.
After Pacer teammate Mike Dunleavy Jr., went down with an injury, Daniels was able to crack the Indiana starting five at the beginning of the 2008-09 campaign. Daniels started in 31 of the team’s first 34 games last season.
“With Mike being down it gave me the opportunity to come in as a starter and play a lot more,” Daniels said. “And being the second guy to Danny [Granger] it worked out pretty good and I was able to show guys that I could help out off the bench or start.”
Daniels is looking to help the Celtics reach the heights that they did by winning the NBA Championship just a pair of seasons ago. That team was built on camaraderie and depth, two things that Daniels hopes to contribute in Boston this season by starting to work out with his new teammates before training camp begins.
“I think everybody knows that it’s going to be key for everybody to come in and build some chemistry,” Daniels said.
Daniels has experience in a variety of positions and roles on the court during his six-year NBA career. According to Ainge, Daniels has experience playing the point all the way to playing power forward in some small-ball packages.
Daniels has averaged 9.4 points and 3.2 rebounds and 23.5 minutes per game during his career. Daniels went undrafted out of Auburn University in 2003, but signed with the Dallas Mavericks after a stunning stint while playing on their summer league squad that summer.