|Irish Coffee: Kevin Garnett keeps Celtics’ championship heart beating||10.05.12 at 11:20 am ET|
On the bus after Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals, Rajon Rondo sat next to his ‘closest friend on the team’ and asked Kevin Garnett the obvious: ‘What are you going to do? I’d really like it if you would come back.’
‘When he made the decision to come back,’ said Rondo, ‘I was really excited.’ Along with every other member of the organization — from the brass to the ball boys, who bring out a jovial side of Garnett in the locker room that few others often do — and the millions of Celtics fans who waited anxiously for his June 30 announcement.
‘It was an absolute no-brainer,’ said Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca of the decision to commit $36 million more to a 7-footer who will be 39 years old by contract’s end. ‘It was a very short conversation. We were just really hoping Kevin would want to come back and finish out his career here.’
You could argue whether Rondo is the head of the Celtics snake on the floor, as LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Josh Smith all have, or whether Paul Pierce is the face of the franchise, but any debate about who embodies the heart and soul of the grit-and-balls mentality that has come to define these Celtics begins and ends with KG.
|Irish Coffee: Top 10 Celtics Media Day moments||10.01.12 at 5:36 pm ET|
Considering the Celtics have been unofficially practicing together since early September, Friday’s Media Day at the team’s practice facility in Waltham seemed less like a welcome home party than years past and more like an interruption of a team’s quest for the franchise’s 18th NBA championship already in progress. That attitude is reflected in the top 10 moments from this year’s Celtics Media Day compared to the same post last season.
10. Chris Wilcox on missing the playoffs again: “I was fresh out of surgery when they made it to the playoffs. The whole time, I was just trying to see whatever I could do. I was like, ‘Doc, there’s no way I could come back?’ And he was like, ‘Don’t even think about it.’ So, it was just motivation, because I can’t watch basketball and not play it. … I’m out trying to walk on treadmills and doing all these different kind of things, just trying to get back, because I wanted to be around basketball. I’ve never been to the playoffs before. That was going to be my first experience, and then that had to happen, so it was tough.”
9. Jared Sullinger on dropping to the Celtics: “Everybody was knocking me for the back problems and all this crazy stuff, but I could care less. Like I told everybody, if I dropped to the Celtics at 21, and I could go back and redo everything — and me not getting hurt — I’ll get hurt again and slide all the way back down to 21, just so I could be with the Boston Celtics. I’d redo it, because it’s a great organization, great vets, great team.”
8. Courtney Lee on the Celtics’ championship tradition: “Every organization I’ve been with, winning has always been the key, but here you believe — you feel it, you see it. We’re not even starting training camp yet, and we had our whole team here Sept. 4, and everybody was dedicated to getting better. The motto of it was to win a championship. The first day I got here, on the fourth, all Rondo was talking about is a championship and getting back and winning. Once you hear that from your star players, you don’t want to let them down, so that motivates you to get on the same page, and that’s all it’s about: Winning.”
|Celtics experiment with small ball||at 1:22 pm ET|
WALTHAM — The buzzword around the Celtics these days is “versatility.” In Jason Terry, Courtney Lee and especially Jeff Green, coach Doc Rivers has a number of different lineup combinations he can use, and he plans to test them all. Rivers pointed to Rajon Rondo, who was getting stretched out behind the media scrum. “He’ll be very happy.”
Their last practice before departing for Istanbul was devoted entirely to using small lineups, although small is a relative term. The C’s believe that the 6-foot-9 Green can force matchups whether he’s at the three or the four and there’s even a thought of playing him and Paul Pierce together with two traditional bigs.
“We put it in [Sunday] but we didn’t work on it,” Rivers said. “Today we’re going to have almost exclusively have small lineups on the floor so that will be fun. This is the first year we’ve ever really worked on it and we’re going to work on it so we can do it every game.”
Green is the key because of his length and athleticism. Last season, Rivers used Mickael Pietrus as a smaller small forward with Pierce playing the four. That lineup was almost born out of desperation as a counter to Miami using LeBron James as the second big around a lineup of perimeter shooters.Rivers doesn’t just want to matchup, he wants to attack and he sees Green as a force in the open court.
“He’s the main guy when you talk about small lineups,” Rondo said. “He played the four at Oklahoma City, he stretched the floor with his shooting. We can get a lot of bigs on the floor as well. He can go from the four to the three. Defensively, he can check one through four, I believe. We expect a lot out of Jeff but he’s fine with that pressure.”
A key to making the smaller lineups work is also coming up with an offense that won’t stall when Rondo is off the court — a frequent occurrence last season. With no traditional backup point guard on the roster and Avery Bradley out for a few months, that task may fall to Terry.
“He’s a better ballhandler,” Rivers said. “I knew he could score of the dribble but he’s really a natural at the point. That surprised me. We have no choice right now with Avery out. We’re trying to create an offense where it’s not a point guard dominated offense, unless Rondo’s on the floor.”
|Jason Terry: I’m the JET (not Ray Allen) and “I like to fly”||09.29.12 at 1:30 pm ET|
“Who?,” the 35-year-old Terry said with a straight face. “No, we’re two different players and hopefully, I’ll bring something that Ray didn’t and some of the things that he did. Obviously, Ray was a great player for this franchise for years, brought them a championship in ’08. But, again, our games are totally different. He’s 6-5 and I’m 6-2, but I am “The Jet” and I like to fly so we’ll see what happens. A lot of those comparisons will be thrown out there but we’re two totally different players.
“For me, my job, it doesn’t change. I’ll be thrust into the sixth-man role. But hey, I’m on one of the best. It is what it is, and I take pride in it. It’s something every team needs, that spark, that energy off the bench and that’s what I’m here to do. Anything other than that, I won’t be doing my job. I don’t want to let these guys down. KG has already talked to me about what it means for him to win another championship, [Rajon Rondo] tells me every day what it means to win another one. And Paul Pierce, he’s looking great and he’s in great shape and condition. They know, they’re champions.”
Terry said he’s been inspired by the veterans like Rondo, Pierce and Kevin Garnett to be a leader for the bench.
“So now, for me as a veteran player, it’s [my job] to help these young guys, those guys we’re going to need off the bench, be the leader for them and help them understand what it’s going to mean to win a championship,” he said. “There is no other goal. The goal is to win a championship and I believe this year we have the talent, the coaching staff, the fans to get the job done. We believe it, we believe it to a man that we will win.”
|Top 5 Darko Milicic quotes from Celtics Media Day||09.28.12 at 10:32 pm ET|
|Top 5 Kevin Garnett quotes from Celtics Media Day||at 9:15 pm ET|
That much was obvious two weeks ago when Rondo took it upon himself to invite Celtics players out to Los Angeles for a pick-up game/workout and a friendly game of flag-football. The reason? Team bonding.
Rondo made it clear Friday at Celtics media day how big of an impact Garnett has had on him in his career. Rondo said after losing Game 7 of the Eastern finals to the Heat in Miami, the first thing he did when he got on the bus was to ask Garnett if he were coming back.
“I can probably say Kevin is my closest friend on the team,” Rondo began. “Kevin always wants to see me do well. From Day 1, I think my second year when he first came in, he told me he would be disappointed if I wasn’t the MVP of the league one day, if I wasn’t considered one of the best point guards one day so he’s always pushed me and expected more out of me than a lot of people did. He’s always showed me how to become a better person each day. Whenever I mess up, Kevin’s always the one who tells me you should do this, or conduct yourself this way or handle it that way.
“He’s been kind of like a big brother/mentor and he’s always wanted the best for me so that’s how we sort of gravitated toward each other. Obviously, off the court, we have a lot of things in common. We share the same interests in a lot of things. He’s been like a big brother to me. The way he goes about the game, the way he approaches the game. He’s a future hall of famer, I consider one of the greatest players to ever play the game who’s been in front of me. So, he’s inspired me to work hard, come in every day, come in get extra shots, taking care of my body, getting proper rest, getting massages, getting treatment and getting stretching. This is how to have longevity in the NBA. He’s played for 17 years and only two or three players can say that in this era.”
As for those who doubt whether a 36-year-old Kevin Garnett can be productive, Rondo said Friday he knows better.
“I don’t take it personal because I’m not him but I kind of laugh when people say he’s old or he doesn’t do this or he can’t do that because if you know the game of basketball, it’s one thing but when you play with Kevin, he does so many little things that don’t show up in the stat book,” Rondo said. “When you play with another big guy that isn’t Kevin Garnett, you know what you’re missing out there on the floor. Obviously, in the playoffs he had a great run. If you look at the stats, the plus-minus when Kevin was on and off the floor, there was a big difference. Read the rest of this entry »
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