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Training camp report: Good times 09.30.10 at 4:12 pm ET
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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.”

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Celtics practice report: O’Neals pass first test 09.28.10 at 5:51 pm ET
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NEWPORT, R.I. — It was hot inside Rodgers Recreation Center at Salve Regina University Tuesday, where the Celtics held their first practice of the 2010-11 season.

How hot?

“Way too warm, felt like the [Boston] Garden in the ’80s,” said Doc Rivers, who played in his share of summer playoff games vs. the Celtics during his years with the Hawks.

“It a little humid in here, a little warm,” said Jermaine O’Neal, who felt the players did a “pretty good” job dealing with the heat.

Rivers felt that the temperature inside the gym — best guess was somewhere in the low 90s — “didn’t help” the players during a three-plus hour session, but he wasn’t going to make excuses.

“I think that we’re not in great shape, personally,” said Rivers. “I don’t think that we’ve come back in the condition that we want. So we’re going to have to come back in better shape.”

– It was the first day as a member of the Celtics for both Shaquille and Jermaine O’Neal. Rivers was pleased with the efforts of both.

“Shaq was great, actually. He looked fine,” said Rivers, who when asked about Jermaine O’Neal noted, “What did I see [from him]? He’s going to help us.

Both O’Neals were seen practicing with the first team [the media was allowed to watch the last 20 minutes or so of the session] but it was Shaquille O’Neal who spent some time with the second unit — “The White Team” — that also included Delonte West, Nate Robinson and Marquis Daniels.

“My game is real limited,” Shaq said when asked if he preferred to start or come off the bench. ”I know to look for [Kevin] Garnett and to look for my shooters. I’ve always played with great big men and great shooters, so it’s no different.

“I’m not going to be playing 30-40 minutes a game, just 20-30.”

Jermaine O’Neal didn’t seem concerned about the starter/reserve situation, either.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Doc Rivers Q&A: ‘Kevin was phenomenal’ 09.28.10 at 3:31 pm ET
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NEWPORT, R.I. – With a three-plus hour opening practice in the books. Doc Rivers spoke to the media at Salve Regina University, host of the Celtics training camp until the end of week. Here are a few highlights:

How was the level of conditioning?

“They didn’t hold up very well, honestly. It was a long practice, a lot of talking as you can tell (Rivers was nursing a hoarse voice). We won’t go three hours every day but we needed it. I think we’re not in great shape, personally. I think we’ve come back in the condition we want.”

How was Shaquille O’Neal’s first practice?

“Shaq was great, actually. He looked fine.”

A year ago Kevin Garnett was limping through the first day of camp. A big difference a year later?

“Kevin was phenomenal, really, yeah. Explosive.”

Warm in the gym today (and it was — must’ve been close to 90 degrees). Was that done on purpose?

“No, it’s too warm. That didn’t help practice, honestly. Way to warm — feels like the Garden in the 1980s.”

What did you see out of Jermaine O’ Neal?

“Just one practice, you know? What did I see? He’s gonna help us.”

How hard was it for Kendrick Perkins to watch practice?

“I’m sure it was hard, it was hard for me to watch practice at times. That’s going to be tough for Perk. I’ve been there. That’s going to be really tough, a tough thing to do. He’s a great kid, he’ll get through it, but it’s not going to be easy.”

What will Von Wafer’s role be?

“He’s got to make his role. He’s young, he’s got a lot of guys in front of him right now. He’s a guy coming off the bench and being a good practice player until he can get in front of somebody.”

Comments made by Big Baby at Media Day (doesn’t know his role)?

“I think he’s living up to [The Big Baby moniker] again … if Baby doesn’t know what his role is by now, I guess he’ll be sitting down a lot. It’s just that simple.”

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Shaq nets cameo in new Sandler movie 08.31.10 at 10:20 am ET
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According to a report in thewrap.com, Celtics center Shaquille O’Neal will appear as himself in the upcoming Adam Sandler comedy “Jack and Jill.”

O’Neal will have a small cameo in the film, which co-stars Sandler and Katie Holmes.

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Bird, Magic and other legends reflect on DJ 08.13.10 at 1:38 pm ET
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SPRINGFIELD — Dennis Johnson will be officially inducted as a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday night,  along with such hoops luminaries as Karl Malone, Scottie Pippen and the 1992 Olympic “Dream Team.”  Several members of that 1992 team are in Springfield for the Hall of Fame weekend and met with the media Friday morning. When the name “Dennis Johnson” was raised, all were quick to heap praise on the five-time All-Star.

“No question it’s long overdue,” said Larry Bird, who has famously referred to Johnson as the best teammate he ever  played with. “DJ not only performed well for the Celtics but he had a great career before. I’m very happy for him and his family. We always supported one another and he was just a great teammate to play with. Dennis controlled everything we did on the court, you have to understand that to understand our teams. It was an honor to play with him.”

Bird, who teamed with Johnson to win two NBA championships, four Eastern Conference crowns and five Atlantic Division titles, was asked about the chemistry he and DJ had on the court.

“Dennis knew where I wanted the ball, how I wanted the ball and he delivered it,” said Bird. “If I was coming off screens, he always knew where I wanted it, he always led it to my left hand so I could move to my right hand very quickly. Everything he did out there made it easier for me.”

Johnson won a title in his first season with the Celtics, scoring at least 20 points in each of the last four games of the 1984 NBA Finals. His defense was also key in the seven-game classic, as he slowed down Magic Johnson over those last four games. The Lakers’ legend smiled and shook his head when asked about the impact Dennis Johnson had on that series.

“I would have had six [titles] if it wasn’t for Dennis!,” Magic Johnson said Friday. “But no, Dennis is the greatest defensive player I’ve ever played against, and has ever played in the league. Smartest player I ever met. He was five steps ahead. Caused so many problems for me and everyone else that had to go head-to-head with him. Awesome. Big, strong, probably one of the bet players that’s ever plyed the game. I knew Dennis very well because we played against each other every summer at UCLA. We would hang out, and talk basketball all the time. It’s a bittersweet time for me, knowing him so well.

I used to be so mad at Dennis because he used to make me think so much when I played against him. He anticipated my moves before I even knew I was going to do it. Unreal. He was just a master at understanding how to play you, and make you not do what you wanted. And he did it all with that smile, the nice Dennis Johnson. I hated that. He took away what I did best. Great for his family and all of us that knew him so well.”

Charles Barkley echoed some of Magic Johnson’s thoughts, calling DJ “one of the best defensive players of all time.” He also felt this recognition was a long time coming.

“This is way, way overdue, I’ve been saying that for years” said Barkley, who played with the 76ers during the last six seasons of Johnson’s career in Boston. “Clearly everyone is going to talk about the defensive prowess, but the main thing is all the clutch shots he made. So, so tough. It’s crazy that it took so long for this to happen. Go back to Seattle, go back to Boston, a consistent winner. He should have been in the Hall of Fame a long time ago. Just so many clutch shots.”

Lenny Wilkens was an assistant coach on the Dream Team, and also the head coach for the 1979 NBA championship-winning Sonics squad. Wilkens on Friday praised the toughness of Johnson, who was MVP of that Finals series.

“We would put him on the other teams toughest player every time,” Wilkens recalled. “He wanted the challenge. We had to move him to Phoenix but I’ll tell you this: When Red Auerbach called and asked me about Dennis I told him to do whatever he had to do to get him. I knew it would be a perfect fit.”

Scottie Pippen, himself one of the NBA’s most decorated defensive players, counted DJ as a huge influence in his game.

“He was a great guy, well respected all over the league,” said Pippen, an eight-time First-Team all defender (DJ was a six-time choice). ”Just a great guy. I watched him as a young kid. I molded a lot of my game after him, as a defender, a playmaker. I’m so honored to be able to join him in the Hall of Fame.”

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Celtics sign Harangody to contract 08.10.10 at 11:53 am ET
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WALTHAM Doc Rivers announced Tuesday that the Celtics have agreed to a two-year contract with second-round pick Luke Harangody. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The Notre Dame alum met briefly with the media following the Shaquille O’Neal press conference.

“It’s a great feeling to have a little job security, especially guaranteed,” Harangody said. “It helps me sleep easier at night. And to sign the contract is also a great feeling as well.”

The 52nd pick of the 2010 draft, Harangody joins a star-filled front court in Boston. However, the prospect of playing with Shaquille O’Neal does not intimidate the former All-Big East player.

“The first couple of times seeing Shaq today, you are a little in awe, a little starstruck,” Harangody said of the three-time NBA Finals MVP. “At the same time, you just have to come to the gym every day. We’re teammates now, no matter who is on the court.”

There were questions about Harangody’s shooting, which some feel led to a drop in the draft. He quickly impressed, though, with an outstanding showing at the Summer League in Orlando, leading the Celtics for the week with 16.8 points per game, while shooting 47.1% from the floor and 50.0% on 3-point attempts.

“I’ve been working in the gym all summer, working on the 3-point ball, the NBA 3-point ball,” Harangody said. “It’s a big deal. I just got comfortable out there, it showed in the the summer league. It surprised a lot of people.”

As for his role with the Celtics in 2010, the soon-to-be rookie made no predictions.

“Wherever I fit in I fit in,” Harangody said.

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Report: C’s take look at Morrison 07.13.10 at 11:30 pm ET
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According to Alex Kennedy of hoopsworld.com, the Celtics were one of four teams present at free agent forward Adam Morrison‘s workout Tuesday in Las Vegas. The Bulls, Clippers and Cavaliers were also present for the workout.

Morrison, the third overall pick of the 2006 NBA draft, has been a major disappointment in his three professional seasons. He played with the Lakers last season, averaging 2.4 points and 1.0 rebounds in 31 games.

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