Marquis Daniels' past three seasons with the Boston Celtics have been filled with ups and downs, an irony for the swingman whos mantra is never too high, never too low.
There was a time when Daniels was expected to be one of the Celtics best assets off their bench. And just as quickly, there was a time when he was unsure if he would ever be able to play basketball again.
This season is different. In 2010, Marquis Daniels struggled with injuries to establish a consistency on his new team. In 2011, his season abruptly came to an end when a career-threatening spinal condition was discovered. In 2012, he is appreciative to be playing basketball again.
With me, its bigger than basketball, he told CSNNE.com. Im just happy to be up, walking around in general. So I dont take anything for granted. Not just this basketball season, just in general. Going out there and playing hard every time I do get out there.
Just over a year ago, Daniels discovered he suffered from spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal canal, following a frightening spill against the Orlando Magic which left him temporarily paralyzed. He was traded to the Sacramento Kings weeks later (he never played for them), underwent spinal surgery, and spent his extended offseason rehabbing.
The experience changed his perspective on life, both on and off the court. The 31-year-old father now approaches everyday moments with a greater sense of urgency and appreciation.
I used to be a, OK, its tomorrow type of guy. Now its more of, Ive got to do it right now, he explained. Sometimes you may go a day and say, I may call this person tomorrow or, I may do this tomorrow. But nothings promised to you, so I just try take to take advantage of every moment I get.
Daniels returned to the Celtics -- and basketball -- when he signed as a free agent in December. The roster changed, though. The Cs added more depth to their bench, including fellow swingmen Mickael Pietrus and Sasha Pavlovic.
His spot in the rotation dropped and, in turn, so did his minutes. Daniels is averaging a career-low 13.6 minutes per game in his ninth season, down from 18.4 in 2010 and 19.1 last season.
He sees time, though, as 13.6 minutes he gets to spend on the court.
Im just trying to stay ready for whenever my names called and just go out there and play basketball, he said.
Without a consistent role he has to be prepared at all times. Daniels sticks to a dedicated routine, hitting the gym for extra work on off days and arriving early to the arena on game days.
Fifteen, 20 minutes after Ray (Allen), he said.
While he is not going to get too low over his playing time, that doesnt mean he isnt fighting for minutes. He balances wanting to play more and enjoying the time he is playing.
Theres a competitive nature in you, you still want to play a lot of minutes, he said. But like I said, I just try to go out there and take advantage of every minute I get. I still want to play, but 10 minutes, five minutes, four minutes, 30 minutes, whatever it is, I still want to play, and I want to play a lot. Its a competitive nature.
Daniels role on the Celtics is different than it has been in the past. Then again, his career is different than it was this time last season. After everything he has been through, the pure feeling of being back on the basketball court is better than any extreme.
I just roll with the punches, he said. Ive been through a lot so it takes a lot for me to get too high or too low. I just keep playing. Theres always another game the next night.