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Celtics bond at Fenway 10.09.10 at 4:03 pm ET
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The fact that the Celtics gathered at Fenway Park on their off day for an impromptu softball game is perhaps less noteworthy than the identity of the organizer. That would be Rajon Rondo, who has been criticized at times for not knowing when to assert his authority as the team’s point guard in a room full of Hall of Famers.

“It was Rondo’€™s deal,” Doc Rivers said. “It was great. The Red Sox are great to us. They gave us the field and we went out and played.”

Paul Pierce called it “one of the best days of my life.” Kevin Garnett said it was, “a dream come true.”

No question, the Celtics are having a good time getting to know one another.

“We’€™re having a blast,” Garnett said. “We come in here and bust each other’€™s [butt.]. Doc he lets us be competitive and be who we are and then off the court we try to get to know each other. It just so happens that we got more people that Tweet more than anything on this team than anybody in the league. That’€™s why y’€™all know what’€™s going on in the locker room, but we’€™re having a good time. We work hard but also we play hard.”

The softball game followed movie night in Newport, assorted team dinners and a duck boat tour. One of Garnett’s tenets is that teams that know each other off the floor are better able to relate with one another when they’re working on the court.

“It certainly doesn’€™t hurt,” he said. “The more you do together, the more activities you have together, the more you get to know one another, the more one-on-one’€™s you have with each other. … You come together for this common goal, so far so good.”

Rondo was apparently voted the MVP of the game, while Jermaine O’Neal surprised everyone with his swing. As for Garnett, he played left in the shadow of Ted Williams, Yaz, Jim Rice and Manny Ramirez. Judging by his own description, Theo Epstein shouldn’t have him on speed dial.

“Danny [Ainge] hit a couple to me,” Garnett said. “Some I dropped, some I didn’€™t. Good day. 50-50. I’€™ll take it. It was fun day. Beautiful day at Fenway. Dream come true. I felt like I was 10 years old.”

Read More: Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo,
Doc on Miami rumor: ‘I’m not going there’ at 3:42 pm ET
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Doc Rivers downplayed speculation that he would one day go to Miami to coach Pat Riley’s South Beach juggernaut. “I’€™m not getting into that.,” Rivers said Saturday after the Celtics concluded practice. “The only guy on [Riley’s] list is Erik [Spoelstra] and that’€™s the only guy that should be there. I’€™m not going there.”

Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski wrote that Rivers would be at the top of Riley’s list if he were to make a change. In the same piece, Rivers told Woj that he’s given thought to being a career Celtics coach.

“I’€™m year to year,” Rivers reiterated Saturday. “That’€™s how I am. The question asked is, where else would you rather go? And I don’€™t think there’€™s a better place than here. It’€™s a great set-up and it is phenomenal.”

Much of the basis for Rivers’ decision to return for the final season of his contract is his relationship with Celtics boss Danny Ainge. The coach has said often that he has a unique friendship with Ainge, and that’s not something coaches can find in every city.

“It’€™s the organization,” Rivers said. “You look at the Red Sox and see Theo [Epstein] and Terry [Francona] and they have a great relationship. It works. When you can get along it’€™s nice. You look around and there’€™s so many groups that’€™s them and us. Here it’€™s just us.

“Maybe because we went through hard times at the start. Not our relationship, but we weren’€™t winning a lot of games. When you endure that as a group, I think you clearly grow together. It’€™s amazing through that whole time I thought as a group, we got closer and that’€™s rare.”

His players are certainly glad that’s sticking around. Paul Pierce noted earlier in camp that Rivers’ decision to return was a key factor in his decision to re-sign, along with Ray Allen.

“He’€™s been able to coach a young team and he’€™s shown he can build a veteran team with a lot of personalities,” Pierce said. “That’€™s a difficult combination for a coach. I wouldn’€™t be surprised to see Doc here for another 20 years, and you might see me here too.”

Read More: Doc Rivers, Erik Spoelstra, Pat Riley, Paul Pierce
Camp report: Fighting through the injuries 10.04.10 at 4:09 pm ET
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As always with the Celtics, injuries and their effects will be a constant theme this season. It’s fitting then that only a week into camp, the team is already dealing with a couple of minor ailments.

Jermaine O’Neal injured his left hamstring at the end of Friday’s practice and will likely be held out for the rest of the week. Delonte West left practice Monday after suffering back spasms. Doc Rivers is a little more optimistic on West, saying that West could be day to day. One thing is certain: the Celtics are playing it safe.

“We cannot take a chance with that,” Rivers said.

The injuries, however minor, do allow for Rivers to begin tinkering with lineups. When practice opened to the media, Shaquille O’Neal was with the first team and Von Wafer and Semih Erden were working with the second unit.

“When you look at Shaq and Jermaine and think that they’€™re going to play 82 games healthy, that would be nice, but we have to be ready for them to miss a couple of games,” Rivers said. “That’€™s why like Luke [Harangody] and Semih are so important. They’€™re going to have to play.”

Jermaine O’Neal’s hamstring injury, which he does not believe is serious, comes at a difficult time because he was just getting comfortable with the new system.

“I’€™m not really concerned about it,” O’Neal said. “It’€™s the timing, being here with the guys getting that chemistry. I was just starting to get comfortable with the philosophies, what Doc wanted. That’€™s the most frustrating part about it. But I don’€™t have any doubt in my mind that I’€™ll be back fairly soon. There’€™s no substitution for it. You can study and look all you want. I felt like Wednesday, Thursday, Friday I was really starting to get comfortable and everything was starting to slow down.”

Rivers termed O’Neal’s play “up and down,” through the first part of camp, which is understandable since he’s just beginning to process all the changes. “When you’€™re playing with a new team, you’€™re not playing, you’€™re thinking,” Rivers said. “But other than that I love what he was doing. He’€™s starting to make shots from the outside.”

The Celtics open their exhibition schedule Wednesday in Manchester, New Hampshire against the Sixers. O’Neal is almost certainly out for that game, while West is day to day.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Delonte West, Jermaine O'Neal, Paul Pierce, Shaquille O'Neal
Rivers on D&C: ‘Let’s do it year to year’ 09.30.10 at 9:48 am ET
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Celtics coach Doc Rivers joined the Dennis & Callahan show to talk about the upcoming season. Rivers discussed a number of topics, including the early odds that he wouldn’t be back in Boston after last season, and how the new additions will help the team.

“The last three years have been a joy,” Rivers said. “I’ve been allowed to coach. I’ve been allowed to tell them to do things. They’ve done them, and so when you get a group like that you want to extend that group. Now we’ve added some more guys; Shaq, Jermaine, and I’m hoping they’re the same way, and I think they will be.”

[To hear the full interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.]

Odds were that you wouldn’t be back as coach after last season. What changed in the offseason that made you want to come back?

Well, I just delayed it for a year. Honestly guys, I had shipped my car home, most of my clothes home, so at that point, you were right. The reason I kept saying I can’t a decision doing this in the year, is because it’s too emotional, number one, you’re too close to it. Getting away was good for me, it was good for my family.

We’re sitting around, and the two kids are in high school, and the first thing they said was, ‘Listen, this is not on us, number one. And you’re a coach, that’s what you do.’ My young one was the best, he actually said it. He said, ‘I can’t imagine you leaving the group that you have.’ He said I would feel awful about that if you left Kevin Garnett and that group.

And my wife thought the same thing, so that part of it was easy. And then the second part for me, was do you want to come back and do it? I love what I do, I love the guys that I coach, and you guys have been around this longer than me I’m going to say. You don’t get special groups a lot when you’re a coach, and you should try to extend it as long as you can.

The way Danny [Ainge] has lined things up, it seems players have been signed for two years for the most part. You’re just talking about one year.

Yeah, you know, I told Danny and them, I didn’t want to go through the extension and walk away. I said let’s just do it year to year. That’s what it’s going to be anyway. The risk is on me, really. It’s not them. You know, Wyc [Grousbeck] and the owners, they offered a long deal, and it wasn’t anything that I didn’t like, it was great. I just thought it would be right by them to not walk out of a deal. I thought it would be better to just do a year-to-year deal. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Doc Rivers, Jermaine O'Neal, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce
Paul Pierce on Doc Rivers’ return: ‘That was huge’ 09.28.10 at 11:48 am ET
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In our countdown of the Celtics 10 most important offseason developments, we gave the top spot to Doc Rivers‘ decision to return to the bench. Paul Pierce backed that up at media day Monday

“I think the most important thing was Doc coming back,” Pierce said. “That was huge. It would have been a tougher decision on me truthfully. It would have been a domino effect. If you had seen Doc leave, I honestly believe that we probably wouldn’€™t have re-signed Ray [Allen]. We probably wouldn’€™t have went after Shaq, re-signed Nate [Robinson]. We probably would have seen rebuilding here”

Pierce also acknowledged that he wouldn’t have wanted to be involved with another rebuilding effort at this point in his career.

Read More: Doc Rivers, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Shaquille O'Neal
Celtics: Irish Coffee at 7:35 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …

Yesterday, the Celtics held their annual Media Day extravaganza, leading into today’s training camp kickoff. Check out the top five quotes that came out of a day that featured Shaq donning green for the first time …

Kendrick Perkins on Game 7 vs. the Lakers: “If I would have played we would have won for sure. By double-figures.”

Shaquille O’Neal on Kobe Bryant’s five rings: “Yeah, I heard it. My whole career I’ve been the measuring stick. Glad to see I’m still relevant. I would’ve been more upset, more hurt, if Tim Duncan would’ve made the comment. I don’t compete with guards. They have the ball more than I do, they shoot way more than I do. You can’t compete with guards. I’m only competing with Tim Duncan, so hopefully I can get No. 5 before Tim Duncan, respectfully before Tim Duncan.”

Kevin Garnett on the 2010-11 season: “I’m really excited, really excited. I don’t like us, I love us. I like how we are, I like our depth, and I’m eager to start.”

Jermaine O’Neal on his new team: “I haven’t walked into a locker room where we talked about winning a championship and a championship only in a long time.”

Delonte West on the truth of the LeBron’s mom rumors: “Not at all. I come from an era where you don’t say nothing bad about someone’s parent, so not at all.”

Nate Robinson hijinks

On the bus ride down to training camp in Newport, Nate Robinson played a few pranks on his sleeping teammates–including Shaq, KG and Delonte–and he posted the pictures to prove it on his Twitter page. Funny stuff.

Antoine Walker’s unemployment

Just a fantastic piece on Antoine Walker by David Aldridge. It’s blunt. He cited one coach who called the former first-round pick “a bad guy in Boston.” Walker touched on his gambling problem and how a “terrible decision” to invest in Chicago real estate led to losses in the double-digit millions. He talked about how he’s had to shrink his inner-circle to a select few, which includes M.L. Carr. After ballooning to almost 300 pounds, Walker is back down to about 265 and looking for a job. So far, though, he’s been turned down by everybody, including the Heat, who he won a championship with in 2006.

“He is a long, long way from the Shimmy and the three All-Star appearances,” writes Aldridge, “and the days he and Paul Pierce were the Celtics’ future, and the day that he signed an extension in Boston that should have taken care of his family for life. There’s no buzz that I can detect that there’s a team interested, so Walker will wait and see if someone goes down during camp and a team needs a body. He wouldn’t mind a camp invite just so he can stay in shape, even if there’s not a real prospect of a job.

“And if it ends for him here? Well, he’s been poor before.”

Paul Pierce, the blogger

Pierce posted a blog on the Boston.com website yesterday. He described how meaningful his high school jersey retirement ceremony.

“Of all the things in my career,” he wrote, “going back to Inglewood High School and having my jersey retired this week in front of my family and friends and the people in my community who supported me from the beginning, was one of the most memorable.”

Considering his career includes an NBA title, that’s saying a lot.

Celtics Late Night Show

Listen to our own Paul Flannery on the Celtics Late Night Show by Gino’s Jungle. He touches on all things green, including Media Day, why fans will like Jermaine O’Neal, Shaq’s star quality, KG’s health, why Rajon Rondo doesn’t watch basketball and the addition of Lawrence Frank to the coaching staff.

Read More: Antoine Walker, Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce
Why Doc Rivers is the ‘perfect coach’ for C’s 09.27.10 at 11:53 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Celtics head coach Doc Rivers believes he enters the season with the most talented group he’s ever coached, with more depth than the 2008 team that won the NBA title.

“You could make the case the 2008 team had more talent because they were younger. Kevin [Garnett] was at the peak of his health at that point so that has changed just a little bit. We’re hoping that all the guys on the bench are as good as their names. We don’t know that, either.”

One thing Rivers does know is the “O’Neal Brothers” – as he labeled the unrelated Shaquille and Jermaine on Monday – gives the Celtics as much in size as name recognition and the two will fight for the starting center’s job while Kendrick Perkins rehabs his right knee.”

Rivers has Delonte West on the bench. He has Nate Robinson on the bench. He Marquis Daniels on the bench. No team north of Miami can bring the depth to the court that the Celtics will bring this season.

“But I like the group as far as talent,” Rivers added. “A lot of the guys we’ve added, they’ve won. They’ve done a lot of winning if they haven’t been the winner [of the NBA title] and they are tough. A lot of them are tough guys, and I think that is good for our team.”

Celtics general manager Danny Ainge said Monday he believes Rivers is the “perfect coach” for the veteran group of superstars he’s assembled to make another run at the franchise’s 18th NBA title. Rivers, Ainge and the rest of the Celtics spoke at Media Day about how ready and primed this group is to make it back to the promised land.

“Yeah, we’ll see about that, that’s for sure,” Rivers laughed when told what Ainge said. “We have a lot of personalities, there’s no doubt about that, probably more than we’ve ever had. Having said that, I also think this is the most talented group we’ve had, as far as deep, on the bench.”

The Celtics are trying to get back to the NBA Finals again next June for the third time in four seasons and avenge their Game 7 loss last June to the Lakers. The Celtics lead the Lakers 17 titles to 16.

Rivers went back with his coaching staff in August and made them all watch just how close they were to No. 18.

“I don’t think you ever get over it,” Rivers said. “I made my staff watch it. We watched it together about a month ago. So, I don’t think you ever get over it. Whenever I see anything [involving Game 7], they always show the damn celebration and all that. That’s not anything I want to watch. Hell, I’m not over Game 7 Celtics-Atlanta Hawks [1987], so I’m certainly not going to be over this.

“It does in some ways. It wants you to get it started again so you can get back there. So yeah, in that way it does. But other than that, you have to move forward. It has to push you a little bit. There’s no doubt.”

One thing Rivers did take from watching again was just how big a role the third-quarter injury to Paul Pierce played in the final devastating outcome.

“It’s easier to watch it the second time,” Rivers said. “It’s still emotional, it always will be. You watch it and you looked at all the opportunities you did have in that in that game. You saw some things you didn’t see. I didn’t realize the Paul injury was bigger, that little injury, was bigger than I thought it was during the game.

“I think [Celtics’ lead] was 12 when he went out. It was only a three-minute period, but when he came back in it was four or six and that was the game. That was in the third quarter and I thought that was the turning point in the game. Nothing in the fourth quarter was different than what I saw. It was more the third quarter I thought changed the game.

In the wake of Game 7 in the locker room, Rivers also admitted Monday that he thought that was it for this group together under his direction.

“Yeah, because I wasn’t sure of what I was going to do at that time,” he said. “I knew Rasheed [Wallace] wasn’t coming back, he told me that before the game. I was, at that time, leaning heavily toward not coming back. Yeah, in the locker room I actually thought that was going to be the last time, at that point, that I would see all these guys together.

“And even if I did come back, I knew it wouldn’t be the same team. I knew we were going to have to make changes. I knew at that time, and no one else knew, the extent of Perk’s injury so I knew he wouldn’t be back until late in next year.”

But he does get another chance to prove – as Pierce believes – that he’s one of the best coaches in the NBA.

Just how many games can this group win this regular season?

“How many games we play, 82? Ok,” Rivers laughed.

Rivers would be just happy with 16 in the playoffs when it matters most.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Los Angeles Lakers, NBA
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