Havlicek: New Celtics may be awed by team's approach

Havlicek: New Celtics may be awed by team's approach
August 14, 2012, 8:24 pm
Share This Post

PORTSMOUTH, R.I. Whether it's the first day at a new school or the first training camp with a new team, figuring out how things are done is a priority for the new guys.

For the Boston Celtics and the bevy of new faces they have on the roster, that couldn't be any truer.

The Celtics currently have 15 players under contract, a total that does not include Jeff Green who is expected to officially ink a deal with the C's.

Of those under contract, less than half -- Brandon Bass, Avery Bradley, Keyon Dooling, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo and Chris Wilcox -- saw action for the Celtics last season.

The experience level of the newest Celtics varies, from rookies like Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo, to accomplished veterans such as Jason Terry. But the challenge they all face in blending their games into one of the most tradition-rich teams in professional sports, is no small feat.

Former Celtic and NBA Hall of Famer John Havlicek spent his entire 16-year NBA career with the C's, winning eight NBA titles which included four in his first four seasons.

He recalls how "different" things were for players -- even veterans -- when they signed on with the Celtics.

"They are sort of in awe of how they approach things," said Havlicek, who was participating in the Jeffrey Osborne Celebrity Classic golf tournament at Carnegie Abbey Club in Portsmouth, R.I. "My first eight years, we never made a trade. We picked people up off of waivers and that kind of thing. We picked up Willy Naulls one year from the Knicks."

Naulls, a four-time NBA all-star (1958, 160-1962) with New York, played his final three NBA seasons in Boston -- helping the Celtics to an NBA title in each of those seasons.

"He came to training camp and was overwhelmed," Havlicek recalled. "He said, 'Man, when I was with the Knicks, we sort of came together and just tried to figure out who we all were. But you guys take it to another level.' He had never worked so hard in his life."

One of the hallmarks of those teams was how they began the season with an impressive record.

During his 16-year NBA career with the C's, Havlicek teams had a winning record after the first 20 games in all but two (1969-1970 and his final season, 1977-1978) seasons. During that 20-game start to the season, the Celtics had a winning percentage of 65.9.

"(Red) Auerbach always said, 'those games at the end of the year mean just as much as those at the beginning,' " Havlicek said. "So we always got off to a good start of 14-1, 15-3, something like that. That's the approach that the Celtics take."

Which is yet another Celtic tradition that the new guys, young and old, have to get used to.