|Celtics have praise for Wooden||06.07.10 at 11:49 am ET|
Before the start of Game 2 of the NBA finals, legendary UCLA head coach John Wooden, who passed away Friday at the age of 99, was honored with a moment of silence in Los Angeles’ Staples Center. In the days since his death, stars in both the college and the pro game have talked about how the Wizard of Westwood influenced them.
Even in a city that is the polar opposite of LA, out in Boston, Wooden’s impact isn’t diminished at all. Several of the Celtics took time away from their finals preparations to comment on Wooden.
Although he played at the University of Connecticut, Ray Allen can appreciate Wooden’s role in the modern game. “He’s had an impact on all of us, indirectly,” he said. “You figure that anybody’s who has played basketball in the last 50, 60 years, we’ve ran his offensive sets, his schemes. We’ve followed the quotations he used to motivate his teams. But not only just basketball: He’s been legendary as a coach, emulated by many coaches across the spectrum. We all have been better as individuals, as sportsmen, to have him in our lives.”
Nate Robinson played against UCLA several times during his tenure at Washington in the Pac-10. “I know a lot of his history because of his winning, but a lot of kids, a lot of freshmen, don’t understand what he brought to basketball alone, but college basketball in general,” Robinson said. “His tradition will carry on. When you hear about UCLA and you hear about basketball, you’ll hear his name. He’s embedded in us. He’s in our DNA.”
Paul Pierce grew up in Inglewood, about eight miles from UCLA, and heard plenty about Wooden. “I’m very familiar with what John Wooden has done for the game of basketball,” he said. “When I talk about basketball, I don’t mean [just] the college game, I mean all of basketball. His influence on the game has been awesome, and when you see an icon like that pass away, your heart just goes out to him and his family.”
But the biggest Wooden fan on the Celtics would probably be Doc Rivers. Rivers has autographed pictures of Wooden and Red Auerbach. “To have those two on your desk, I don’t think you need to further your collection,” Rivers said. “You know, those are the two best. But with Wooden, I think he’s one of the rare superstars that stood out more about him as a person than he did as a coach or anything. And that’s rare, when you say that about any star in any business.”
When he met Wooden for the first time, Rivers recalls reacting like a child meeting his idol. “The fact that I got to meet him and he actually knew my name, to me blew me away on its own right.”
Of course, he had to take advantage of the situation, “I don’t ask for a lot of autographs, and he was one that I wanted, and he was as gracious as we thought he would be.”
|Robinson on future in Boston: ‘I feel wanted here’||at 11:11 am ET|
Celtics point guard Nate Robinson has been a spark plug this postseason, picking up where starter Rajon Rondo leaves off. In Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals, Robinson came in when Rondo landed on the ground hard and came up sore, and the three-time slam dunk champion helped eliminate the Magic by racking up 13 points, two assists and a steal in 13 minutes. In Game 2 of the NBA finals against the Lakers, Robinson helped again by having a perfect shooting night: 2-for-2 field goals, including a 3-pointer, and 2-for-2 on free throws.
Even with his support off the bench, Robinson does not have guaranteed job security with the C’s. With the season soon coming to a close, he was asked about his future plans by AOL FanHouse’s Chris Tomasson.
“I feel wanted here,” Robinson said. “This group of guys, this team, this organization is good for me. They’re high class, man. They keep it 100 percent [real] with you. Doc [Rivers] keeps it 100 percent. He tells you straight forward what he wants. I like that.”
When Robinson was asked about his 4½-year experience with the Knicks, his review wasn’t as glowing. “They treated me good, but at times I felt like they didn’t,” Robinson said. “But it is what it is. Sometimes it’s like your mom and your dad. You don’t communicate all the time being on the same page. But you move forward. I’m moving forward and not looking back.”
If the 5-foot-9 University of Washington alum couldn’t return to the Celtics, he isn’t sure where he’d want to go next. One thing is for sure, though, he definitely isn’t running short on the child analogies: “I want to be able to play somewhere that somebody wants me,” he said. “You kind of look at it like being in an orphanage and somebody wants to come and adopt you. So, whoever that NBA family that wants me and loves me and they want me for who I am.”
Finally, he was asked about what he would take from his time in Boston. “This whole season has been a roller coaster for me,” Robinson said. “It’s kind of been like at an amusement park. You never know what to expect, what curve or what dip. But day to day, it’s been fun.”
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|Pierce to LA fans: ‘We ain’t coming back’||at 6:35 am ET|
Lakers center Pau Gasol made some comments about Kevin Garnett over the weekend that some people tried to turn into inspiration for the Celtics. Now it’s Paul Pierce‘s turn for some locker room bulletin board material. During the closing seconds of the C’s Game 2 win Sunday night, as Pierce helped up teammate Kendrick Perkins, he appeared to say, “We ain’t coming back [to LA].” If the Celtics were to win (or, for that matter, lose) the next three games in Boston, the series would be over without the Lakers hosting another game.
It should be noted that after Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals in Orlando, Pierce made a similar proclamation, saying “See y’all next year,” as he walked to the locker room, after an interview with ESPN sideline reporter Doris Burke in which he said, “We’re coming home to close it out.” That proved to be inaccurate, as the Magic pushed the series to six games.
Here’s the clip of the Sunday night comment, which became a hot topic overnight on message boards across the country.
|Pierce not concerned with offensive struggles||at 1:38 am ET|
LOS ANGELES — Paul Pierce isn’t worried.
In spite of shooting 2-for-11 in Game 2 of the NBA finals, the Celtics captain was not concerned.
He knows he can perform better, but he doesn’t have to force his shot when his teammates are getting it done on the offensive end.
“I think I struggled offensively, I think I rushed a lot,” Pierce said following the Celtics Game 2 win over the Lakers. “I don’t think it was too much about what Ron (Artest) did (defensively). I had about three or four open shots off the pick-and-roll that guys got me open that I missed. I loved the looks I got tonight. I’m happy with that, but at the same time I’m not going to force the issue on my offense.”
Pierce finished the game with 10 points, 14 less than in Game 1. But it’s how he made up for it that matters. He grabbed four rebounds and held Artest to just six points off of 1-for-10 shooting. Pierce considers himself to be a versatile player, not just a scorer, and he utilized those skills to help the Celtics get the win.
“I don’t have a big burden for me offensively on my team as Kobe (Bryant) does,” he said. “So when I’m not out here making buckets I’m out there trying to rebound, defend, make plays for other guys. Obviously Ray was the catalyst tonight along with Rajon (Rondo), so I tried to do other things.”
|Ainge on The Big Show: ‘That was not our team’ in Game 1||06.05.10 at 11:04 pm ET|
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge joined The Big Show Friday afternoon to discuss the Celtics’ tough loss to the Lakers in Game 1 of the NBA finals, why he doesn’t believe they were out-hustled, and the future for assistant coach Tom Thibodeau.
“There was no rhythm in the game, there was a lot of fouls being called. … I’m not making excuses, I just felt that our guy’s were ready to play, and played hard,” Ainge said about the way the team played in Game 1.
“[In Game 1] we really didn’t get a good performance out of anybody,” he continued. “Hopefully that will change.”
A lot of talk has been about the hustle in Game 1, did it seem like Lakers out-hustled the Celtics?
No i think that maybe some of the fouls early in the game took a little bit of that away, I know our guys were ready to play. A lot of times the team you’re playing does that to you. I thought, not so much effort, as much as tentative. We were in between on some of our defensive things, we weren’t quite on the ball. … We were kind of in no man’s land so many times where we didn’t contest a shot or left the basket open. It looked like there was more indecisiveness, I thought that the natural, just effort. There was no rhythm in the game, there was a lot of fouls being called. … I’m not making excuses, I just felt that our guys were ready to play, and played hard. I think [Rajon] Rondo got hurt half way through the game and kind of re-injured his back a little bit.
There is no way the Celtics can win when getting less second-chance opportunities.
Well I think there’s two things on that. I think 16 second-chance points is not good, and zero is really bad. I mean a lot of that is not effort, it’s just we’re not finding ourselves in those positions, or we’re taking shots too quick, as we were climbing the hill there coming from behind. You know we were taking quick shots and not even ready for offensive rebounds, I mean there are so many factors, more than just effort. But I believe rebounding is crucial for us, and has been for us the last three years. When we rebound the ball, and defensive team’s aren’t getting those second-chance points, that’s when we play our best. It gives us a chance to get out in the open court. If it’s going to be a halfcourt game on both ends, then that’s not our strength.
|Perkins won’t hold back again||at 8:44 pm ET|
EL SEGUNDO — Kendrick Perkins admitted he let his technical foul trouble hold him back in Game 1 of the NBA finals. But he promises he won’t let it happen again.
“Last game in a way I was [holding back],” he said prior to practice on Saturday. “But this game coming up, I’m just going to be myself. We’ve got to get this win, so whatever it takes.”
Perkins entered the NBA finals with six technical fouls, one shy of an automatic one-game suspension. Putting the potential consequence out of his mind is easier said than done. He scaled back his aggressiveness and didn’t go as hard on defense as he would have liked.
“Just a few times where I probably would have went in there and mixed it up a little bit, just got tangled up with guys, I didn’t,” he said. “I was like, ‘I can’t do it.’ Or a time a guy was holding me is a time I might have locked up with him just because. But there are times when you want to get in there and mix it up, go in there and bang a little bit, but you’ve just got to pick and choose.”
After the Lakers dominated the boards and got inside the lane with ease, Perkins knows he has to play differently in Game 2. He looks to find a balance between smart basketball and physical basketball.
Besides, Doc Rivers has made it clear what can happen if Perkins continues to hold back.
“What didn’t he say?” said Perkins. “He said everything, that we need to play harder, that this isn’t the team that played the last game against Orlando, it’s night and day. He said we need to come out and attack or we’d be getting sent home early, so we’ve got to come out and play hard.”