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First Impressions of Derrick Rose 10.31.08 at 5:19 pm ET
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What can a first pick get you these days in the NBA?

This summer it didn’t seem like much when Derrick Rose struggled at the Orlando Summer League. Tonight, however, he is showing more signs of potential.

Rose is fast so the match up between him and Rajon Rondo is a quick-moving battle to the basket. Both point guards like to drive the lane and Rose has already proved that like Rondo, he isn’t afraid to take on the big guys.

Early in the first quarter Rose drove to the hoop against Kendrick Perkins and drew the fouls. He blocked out “De-riiicck” chants from the crowd to nail both free throws.

Of course you can’t base an opinion on a few minutes of basketball but tonight Rose is coming out strong against the defending champs.

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New Intro for the Champs at 5:11 pm ET
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Greetings from the TD BankNorth Garden where the Boston Celtics are taking on the Chicago Bulls …

The Celtics have at least 82 games to enjoy being World Champs and they are making it known in the Garden. The new pregame introduction is kicked off with highlights from Tuesday’s ring ceremony, including John Havlicek carrying the trophy out of the players’ tunnel, Paul Pierce overwhelmed by emotion, and the 17th banner being raised to the rafter. The video montage then switches to clips from the NBA Finals and Eastern Conference Seminfals. It’s a medley of slam dunks and screams that is capped off by a few words from Pierce to get the crowd riled up.

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Celtics Exercise Option on Rondo at 9:22 am ET
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In a move that has been expected all month, today the Boston Celtics exercised the fourth year option on point guard Rajon Rondo. Per team policy terms were not disclosed.

In three years Rondo has become one of the many “told you so’s” of Danny Ainge’s career. Ainge had been heavily scouting Rondo for years before landing him in a 2006 Draft Night deal with the Phoenix Suns.

Ainge knew Rondo wasn't just any point guard

Ainge knew Rondo wasn't just any point guard

20 players were selected before the Kentucky native:

1. Andrea Bargnani
2. LaMarcus Aldrige
3. Adam Morrison
4. Tyrus Thomas
5. Shelden Williams
6. Brandon Roy
7. Randy Foye
8. Rudy Gay
9. Patrick O’Bryant
10. Saer Sene
11. J.J. Redick
12. Hilton Armstrong
13. Thabo Sefalosha
14. Ronnie Brewer
15. Cedric Simmons
16. Rodney Carney
17. Shawne Williams
18. Oleksiy Pecherov
19. Quincy Douby
20. Renaldo Balkman
21. Rajon Rondo

Looks like the Celtics hit blackjack with stealing Rondo at 21.

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Lakers Lock in Bynum for Four Years 10.30.08 at 1:55 pm ET
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For all those who said the Los Angeles Lakers would have beat the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals with Andrew Bynum, they will have four more years to make up for it.

Today Bynum agreed in principle to a four-year contract extension worth around $58 million. According to the Los Angeles Times, he will earn $42 million in the first three years. The fourth year is reported to be a team option worth $16 million.

Bynum, who turned 21 this week, is currently making just over $2 million this season. The contract is based on potential despite the fact that he started less than 80 games in his first three seasons. He missed the entire 2008 playoffs with knee injuries.

The Celtics and Lakers will meet again on Christmas Day in Los Angeles.

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Leon the Mutant Ninja Turtle… at 12:14 pm ET
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‘Tis that time of year when we all dress up or know people who embarrass themselves by dressing up in costumes. I am in the latter category because I consider myself too mature to delve into such childish behavior. After all, when you have two awesome girls dressed as a witch and a bumble bee, what’s the need?

And if that’s not enough of an argument for you as to why I prefer civilian clothes, let Leon Powe try to convince you.

Oh yeah? Well, Michelangelo could never dunk on Leon.

Oh yeah? Well, Michelangelo could never dunk on Leon.

Asked by CSN’s Greg Dickerson if he ever dressed up as anything special on Halloween, Powe recalled a downright frightening and ghoulish experience.

“I remember I was a Ninja Turtle. I swear I don’t wear costumes anymore because of that. I was a Ninja Turtle and all my friends teased me because of that. I had the real nunchucks and I tried to do the stuff like Michelangelo does and I hit myself in the head. Man, I was all messed up that day.”

Just ask Cleveland’s Delonte West, Powe doesn’t need a set of nunchucks to be dangerous.
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When not detailing a harrowing Halloween nightmare, Powe also recalled a happier time… this past summer when he took a group of 15 friends and family away to the Bahamas to celebrate the Celtics championship.

“When I went home, I’m all about family, I took all my family on a trip, all expenses paid for, everything. No one needed to spend any money or anything. Just 15 people, my family, my girl’s family and just had fun in the Bahamas. I just cleared my head and came back to work.”

And the best thing about the Bahamas, you don’t need to bring your nunchucks with you to enjoy fun in the sun.

Other tidbits from Thursday’s practice…

Bill Walker, when asked the same Halloween-themed question by Dickerson, said, “I like candy, I just don’t like going door-to-door for it.”

Paul Pierce was schooling everyone in one-on-one drills to the basket in the open portion of practice, including rookie J.R. Giddens, sans shirt. “We’re making each other better,” Pierce said. “We challenge each other and it’s fun, too.” … unless your name is J.R. Giddens.

The Celtics will not be caught off-guard by Chicago rookie sensation-to-be Derrick Rose. “Derrick Rose, it’s funny just watching him. He didn’t have a great game but you see greatness. He’s going to be a great player. He is already controlling that team, they’re running at a better speed. His decision-making is what stood out.”


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Opening Night … the Day After 10.29.08 at 4:12 pm ET
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If you are still reeling from the excitement of Opening Night, here is a recap of the buzz from the Garden:

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Wahlberg Shows Another Side of Pierce at 12:44 am ET
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Over the last few years the TD BankNorth Garden had become a revolving door of new faces. Countless players came and went, as did fairweather fans who no longer wanted to support a losing cause. But there were two faces that stayed the same – a resilient captain and a diehard Bostonian, both who refused turn their backs on the Boston Celtics.

Celtics captain Paul Pierce and actor/musician Donnie Wahlberg developed a friendship during the 2002 basketball season. They shared a special bond of frustration and unmet expectations. Wahlberg wanted to resurrect his career after New Kids on the Block and Pierce wanted to win a title with the Cs. Through this common understanding, Wahlberg got to know a different side of Pierce.

“Obviously to be an elite athlete you have to have an ego, you have to have confidence, but he’s a special guy because he has humility too,” Wahlberg said during the Celtics regular season opener against the Cleveland Cavaliers. “So do I and I think that’s one of the reasons why he and I get along. We’ve always shared that mutual respect even through the worst of times. I still traveled with the team, still followed them everywhere, and he never treated me any different.”

Pierce and Wahlberg decided to stick by the Celtics. Wahlberg took in games on both the east and west coasts while Pierce never asked to leave Boston. Six years later, their loyalty paid off. Wahlberg, now on a sold out comeback tour, sat courtside to watch a teary-eyed Pierce receive his championship ring.

“To see him tonight so emotional, it’s beautiful because you realize how much it really means to him,” Wahlberg said. “He’s a laidback guy so a lot of people don’t realize how much it means to him and how hard it must have been for him during some of the dark times here. It’s a lot of weight and he never came out publicly and said ‘trade me.’ He never did what all the other superstars do. He didn’t do it.”

Despite reports of Pierce living it up in Las Vegas this summer and claiming he is the best basketball player in the world, Wahlberg said he has never become big time. The only difference he ever noticed, in fact, was that of embarrassment.

“The only time he was ever different was when I could see times when he was really down when the team was really struggling,” he said. “He’d look over and he’d give me a nod and stuff but I could see he was really hurting and embarrassed too. That’s the only change he’s really had. He’s always been consistent, always been gracious, and humble, and wonderful to me.”

To show his appreciation to Pierce for bringing the world championship back to Beantown, Wahlberg invited him to join the New Kids on stage during their first concert at the Garden in 15 years. The group donned Celtics jerseys (Wahlberg wore number 34) while Pierce proudly hoisted the championship trophy in front of a packed house. Even after winning a title and NBA Finals MVP Award, Pierce was still in awe of how Wahlberg could perform under that much pressure.

“It’s the same thing – I don’t know how he gets on the free throw line in front of all the people that are watching him. But that’s Paul. He’s a humble guy,” Wahlberg said. “When we were on stage together at the show he was like, ‘Wow, I’m so happy for you,’ just the same why I was for him. I gave him a big hug after Game Six and I was just so happy for him and it’s just a good thing. It’s really cool and it’s a trip to hear him say that, but it doesn’t surprise me because that’s the kind of guy he is.”

Just as it was during Wahlberg’s return to the stage, the energy in the Garden was electrifying during the ring ceremony.

“This building has been a surreal place for me for the last year,” Wahlberg said. “Most of last season I knew there was a chance we were going to play here, I knew there was a chance the Celtics were going to play in the championship, and to actually see it all happen in just like a year’s time, it’s unbelievable. I don’t want to compare us to the Celtics in any way but to share the stage with Paul was very, very powerful for me. I’ve spent a lot of time at these games going through my own ups and downs of my career while Paul was going through his and in the last year it’s kind of been a comeback of sorts for both of us.”

In just 12 months, their six-year friendship has transformed from commiseration to celebration. The level of success has changed, but as Wahlberg says, Pierce hasn’t.

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