|Big Al tears ACL||02.09.09 at 2:54 pm ET|
Former Boston Celtic/Minnesota Timberwolves big man Al Jefferson is out indefinitely after tearing his ACL during Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Hornets, according to multiple reports. An MRI revealed the extent of the injury on Monday. Jefferson, who received a standing ovation at the Garden earlier this month, was having a breakthrough season. He was averaging 23.1 points and 11.0 rebounds through 50 games. No date for surgery has been set. Jefferson was the centerpiece for the Kevin Garnett trade in 2007.
In a statement on Timberwolves.com, head coach Kevin McHale said, “This is an unfortunate situation for Al and we wish him a quick recovery. Al has been playing at an all-star level all season and has been our go-to-guy on the court. Knowing Al, he will work hard in his rehab efforts to get back on the court as soon as possible.”
|No big surprise: Jefferson and Perkins expected success||02.01.09 at 4:26 pm ET|
If someone had said during the Boston Celtics 18-game losing streak Kendrick Perkins would win an NBA Championship and Al Jefferson would become an All-Star caliber player in less than two years, they would have been laughed at. Yet the pair of big men have made a remarkable turnaround from the dismal 2007 season. And while their accomplishments may have seemed unlikely just a few seasons ago, neither are surprised by the others success.
“It’s funny because his game has improved a lot, of course, because every year you have in this league you get better and better,” Jefferson said of Perkins. “But the things he’s doing now, I’d even seen them when I was here.”
Jefferson and Perkins faced off on Sunday when the Celtics took on the Timberwolves in Boston. (RECAP HERE) Perkins was nonchalant about the match up — “Man, I just want to hoop” — and seemed unfazed by the success of his close friend. The two had a strong chemistry on and off the court, and saw potential in one another early on. So when Jefferson was the centerpiece of the Kevin Garnett deal, Perkins wasn’t shocked.
“He’s grown a lot, but he was doing the same thing when he was here,” Perkins said. “It’s not like he just developed into this star player when he got to Minnesota. That’s why he got traded for Garnett, because he was that type of player before he left here.”
In Jefferson’s last season with the Celtics, he averaged 16 points and 11 rebounds. This season he is ranked first among all centers in scoring (23.2 ppg), fifth in rebounds (10.6), and has recorded 26 double-doubles.
“I think Al is really learning how to be a leader,” Perkins said. “You can tell he’s talking more, he’s communicating on the court, he’s telling guys where they need to be. I think Al’s stepping up, being more of a vocal leader. He’s taking pride in playing defense and it’s really just going from there.”
Even when the Celtics were losing, Jefferson was one of the bright spots on the team. Perkins, however, struggled to learn his role as a defensive presence. He forced baskets and was reluctant to scale down his offensive game.
“The biggest thing when I was here was he was the type of guy who wanted to rush his offense, he wanted to take shots, he wanted to kind of like be a scorer,” Jefferson said. “And Doc (Rivers) used to always tell him, ‘You’re not a scorer. You’re the type of guy who sets pick and rolls. That’s how you get your point.’ And I think that’s what he’s doing now. He finally accepted that and now he gets his points. He scores just as much now just doing his role by setting picks and rolling to the front of the basket, getting offensive rebounds. He’s getting his points that way and I think he’s finally accepted his role and that’s what’s making him a great player.”
It took losing the player he relied on the most for Perkins to improve his game. He is averaging 8.3 points, 8.0 rebounds, and shooting 59.5% from the field this season, compared to 4.5 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 49.1% FG in his last season before the trade. Perkins soaked up Garnett’s veteran knowledge and even began to implement a high-low pass that he learned from Jefferson.
“That’s all he really needed was a guy like KG who was defensive-minded just to bring him up even more,” Jefferson said. “So the things he’s doing now, I’d seen them when I was here. Perk was always one of the guys that was hard for me to score on even in practice. We used to go at each other so it’s fun watching him grow as a player.”
At just 24 years old, Jefferson and Perkins are only beginning to reach their potential. But regardless of how successful the other becomes, it’ll be no big surprise for these big men.
Perkins Cool With Call – By Jessica Camerato
The Captain and the Truth – By Paul Flannery
|Big Al Gets Love in Minny||11.01.08 at 9:40 pm ET|
Al Jefferson’s talent is old news to Celtics fans who watched him shine in the days of 18-game losing streaks and failed youth movements. After all, he was the main attraction for the Minnesota Timberwolves in the Kevin Garnett deal.
But the spotlight doesn’t shine on the T’Wolves and Jefferson is overshadowed by big men on winning Western Conference teams. Until his squad is a postseason contender, Big Al will struggle to receive the same recognition as players like Amare Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer, and David West.
This season, though, one of Jefferson’s newest teammates is spreading the word of his talent. Rookie Kevin Love, who is blogging on NBA.com, is already advocating for more publicity for his mentor.
“Al’s great to me, especially in practice. There are people who like to say he’s not athletic, he’s a below the rim player, he can’t run, and that’s what some people say about me. But people focus on what he can’t do rather than what he can do. He’s going to come out and get 20 and 10 and in practice he works his butt off, he’s one of the hardest workers, if not the hardest. It shows on the court and on the stat sheet. You can’t really do much to stop him. He’s just a great player.”
Thanks to K-Love, Jefferson is getting the love he deserves.