Photo Courtesy: Chris Forsberg
Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there's nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
The first thing that stands out is there no bantering or fooling around. The Celtics have developed a reputation for being loose off the court, thanks mostly to the arrival of the Big Maestro Shaquille O’Neal, but when it’s time to do their job, they work.
Then there is Doc Rivers, who cuts an active, athletic image in shorts and workout shirt. Part of Rivers’ genius is he still thinks like a player and he loves to encourage the reserves when they make a nice play. It’s partly to acknowledge them, but it’s also to subtly tweak his veterans in the starting lineup.
“The first unit knows that if they up their pressure defensively they can take the second unit out of anything we want to run, and they do that on purpose,” Rivers said. “They should do that.”
Paul Flannery does a great job taking us behind the rare look at a full Celtics practice. One of my big curiosities as a C's fan and blogger is to get an inside look at Doc Rivers and his coaching style. We see the measured-yet-seemingly-honest guy in the media. But then we occasionally see the former player in him come out (like we did yesterday with Jermaine). I'm glad that Flanns mentions the player-mentality too… because it's such a huge part of how Doc gets through to these guys.
But we never get to see that behind-the-scenes stuff. I'd love to be a fly on the wall to hear the private conversations between Doc and Jermaine about his injuries… or Doc and Rondo about how to run the team… or Doc teaching Avery Bradley (follow the link to read more about that)… or Doc interacting with KG off the court.
Speaking of KG… there's a look at how KG conducts himself in practice:
With Nate Robinson isolated on defense at the top of the key and a screen coming from the man he’s defending, Garnett takes over. He doesn’t so much yell, as make himself heard. “By yourself, Nate. By yourself, Nate.” Then when the screen comes, “It’s hot, Nate.”
Garnett continues to do this every single time, over and over. This is a small, but important part of what he is trying to accomplish during the workout, and in doing so he is also setting an example for the other big men. (Garnett also talks to himself as much as he talks to other players. After setting a screen that freed Ray Allen for a jumper, he blurted to one in particular, “Nice pick, Kev.”)
Garnett is a fantastic practice player. He is active right from the start and he works himself into a quick sweat. Oddly enough, that presents something of a problem for Rivers.
“Almost too good,” the coach said. “That’s Kevin every day. The problem we’re having right now is not having enough guys to sub Kevin in practice and that actually hurts because we need Kevin for the whole year. I told him before practice, I’d like you to not do a lot of the active stuff if you can control yourself, and obviously he couldn’t. That’s just Kevin.”
Kevin Garnett telling himself "nice pick, Kev" is awesome and telling at the same time.
KG lives in his own little world when he's playing. It's a bubble filled with parquet, sweat and a steady stream of expletives. Not much else exists in that bubble when he's playing. I bet watching KG go through a full practice is a mind-bending basketball experience.
On Page 2: A little baby helps Big Baby grow up
On September 2, his world changed. Davis was left speechless at the birth of his daughter, Amari.
"We wrote to her, 'Welcome to the world,' and I couldn't even write," he said. "I got so emotional I couldn't even write. It made me realize, 'Wow, something so small can have such a big effect on you.' It changed me, and it's still changing me to this day."
Davis, 24, quickly matured as a father. As he embraced the accountability and responsibility of having a child, he saw the ties between parenthood and the NBA.
"You have to hit that adult level because you have to make adult decisions," he said. "You have to mature, and I think that had a lot to do with my game and basketball . . . You have to be real punctual, real precise with a baby. You have to be reliable. There are so many things that dealing with a baby and being a player in this game have in common."
Davis credits Celtics coach Doc Rivers for making him open to the maturation process. He appreciates that Rivers enforces a sense of professionalism and holds him to his own actions, characteristics he hopes to instill in Amari.
Davis says Rivers has taught him, "If you want it, you've got to go get it." He wants to be a good father the same way he strives to be a good teammate.
"First of all, you have more of an animal instinct," Davis said. "It's like you're defending your cub. It comes to a point where this is your livelihood. You have to feed, and you think about it in that way. Then you think about it in a way like, 'How can I represent my child so when she looks back, she can be real proud of her father?'
First of all, congrats to Big Baby.
Second of all, congrats to Big Baby.
First, for the birth of his daughter… and second, for understanding what it takes to grow up and be a Dad.
That's not going make Baby any less crazy off the court. I'm sure he's still gonna be doing a lot of that goofy stuff that we know and love him for.
But it's making him more focused on the court. It's funny, when you realize that you're doing something for someone other than yourself, a lot of the extraneous BS goes away.
Maybe Baby needed a kick in the ass to grow up. He got it. And he's a better man for it.
The rest of the links:
ESPN Boston: Dirk passes Bird | Awards watch: Sixth Sense | Video: Christmas Day matchup: C's-Magic | Davis flagrant downgraded | Nate being himself | WEEI: Jermaine 50/50 to play tonight | The latest on Perk's return | Herald: Perkins on fast track | Jermaine O'Neal practices, may go tonight | Sixers get bull-rushed in Chicago | Globe: Practice turns into a Big deal | Shaq's sleigh makes the rounds | 76ers thumbnails | J O'Neal, Perkins near return to Celtics lineup | MWDN: Reinforcements on the way for Celtics