Christmas returns home for first time as NBA player

Christmas returns home for first time as NBA player
October 16, 2012, 3:16 am
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PHILADELPHIA Dionte Christmas has been looking forward to this night for quite a while.

The Philadelphia native was back home, playing before family and friends as an NBA player.

An NBA player.

There were so many nights, too many to count, when that dream seemed so far away, so distant to him.

So for Christmas, the Boston Celtics' 107-75 drubbing at the hands of Philadelphia, was indeed a bittersweet moment for him.

He will certainly take away the humbling effect that comes when you get crushed, preseason or not. But he's also mindful that on a personal level, the game offered family and friends a chance to see him play.

Having spent his post-college career playing overseas, Christmas was clearly touched by the fact that his parents - James and Jackie Christmas - would be in attendance as well as his grandmother, Rena Christmas.

"They haven't seen me play live, in person, in like three years," Christmas told CSNNE.com. "So I know for them, for me, this game is pretty special."

Christmas, who starred at nearby Temple University and finished his career among the school's all-time leading scorers, got a surprise tap on the shoulder from Doc Rivers in the second quarter - the earliest action he has seen during the preseason.

Prior to the game, C's coach Doc Rivers said he would limit the minutes of Paul Pierce. That meant players fighting for one of the remaining roster spots, players like Christmas, were sure to see more playing time.

And Christmas was eager to get on the floor, especially after a watching film following Boston's overtime loss to the New York Knicks in Hartford, Conn.

It was a game in which, after reviewing the film as a team on Monday, Christmas realized he stood out for all the wrong reasons.

"Coach (Rivers) was on me (Monday) in film," Christmas said. "That kind of surprised me. He didn't single me out, but he said a lot to me in film."

Rivers' issues with Christmas weren't all that different than what has been an issue with the entire Celtics team - their pick and roll defense.

Specifically, the guards who are to help down on pick-and-roll plays, weren't getting there quick enough - Christmas included.

"I do have to get there, rotate quicker," Christmas said. "It's not what you want to hear, but it is what you need in order to get better. That's why I don't take that to heart. I look at that as a positive. I'm trying to get better, and I'm going to go back and watch more film to better myself."

And in doing so, his next trip back home will be one in which his status will be the same as it was on Monday night.

An NBA player.