Sullinger remains humble amid early success


Sullinger remains humble amid early success

WALTHAM, Ma. - The praise has been coming in almost daily for Boston Celtics rookie Jared Sullinger.

Players love his ability to finish around the basket. C's coach Doc Rivers loves his high basketball IQ. Fans love the fact that he rebounds.

All that gushing is enough to make the most level-headed rookie become more like a walking bobble head.

"I'm definitely a rookie," Sullinger said. "I have a lot to learn around here."

Although he has fared well thus far, his first real test will come on Tuesday when the Celtics open at Miami.

Sullinger will likely come off the bench in the season opener, an unusual starting point for the 20-year-old.

"It's different," he said. "Coming from being the man, the go-to guy all these years and now coming here and taking a backseat to some greats, it's a humbling experience. At the same time, I have to get better."

Experience will certainly benefit Sullinger moving forward.

In the meantime, Sullinger will manage to get by with his basketball smarts and a knack for creating space both as a scorer and as a rebounder.

"The best thing about me is using my body. That's my rear end," Sullinger said. "That's what my momma gave me. I was blessed with a healthy mom."

As well as a healthy appetite for success dating back to his days as an AAU star in Ohio.

C's coach Doc Rivers recalls his son Austin's AAU team facing the "Ohio Red" AAU Team which was led by Sullinger.

Rivers recalls seeing Sullinger exposed to an assortment of defensive strategies by opponents, most of which he was able to master his way out of or find a teammate who could be effective.

"He's been trapped his entire life, so he knows coverages, he knows how to use his body," Rivers said. "He is well ahead of the game as far as using his body, playing through double teams. He's just a smart basketball player."

Smart enough to avoid the temptation of trying to do more than the C's need from now.

"I'm an unselfish basketball player, so there's no temptation," Sullinger said. "The main goal for me is to win. I love to win. That's what I pride myself on, is winning."