High school coach not surprised by Bradleys attempts to play

High school coach not surprised by Bradleys attempts to play
May 25, 2012, 5:10 am
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Watching Avery Bradley battle through a left shoulder injury, Findlay Prep basketball coach Michael Peck felt for his former backcourt standout.
He knew how badly Bradley, who is reportedly having season-ending surgery Friday, wanted to be competing on the floor.
Bradley was the sparkplug on the 2009 Findlay Prep team that captured the national title over Oak Hill Academy. A fierce-minded competitor, he was so determined to help his team win that one of his gutsy performances is still on Pecks mind three years later.
Bradley grew up in Texas before moving to Washington. When Findlay Prep took on Gods Academy in Dallas, he looked forward to playing in front of his former home crowd. Early in the February 20 game, though, Bradley caught an elbow to his chin. His lip split open and required immediate attention.
Avery, with his whole family there, said, Im playing. Im fine. Theres nothing wrong. Coach, can we somehow tape it? Peck recalled in a telephone interview with CSNNE.com. It was in such a weird spot and, to no avail, we tried to tape it a couple times but it just kept slipping and coming off.
Bradley didnt want to leave the game for stitches. He went with Plan B.
What we ended up doing was more or less taping around his whole head, Peck explained. It almost looked like he had a taped helmet or guard or mask on. It was the goofiest, funniest looking thing, but it was the only way we could sort of cover that and conceal it. He went out there and played like that, looking like that.
Bandage and all, Bradley scored 22 points in 19 minutes during Findlay Prep's 74-51 win in which they improved to 29-0.
We pull it (the photo) up every year, said Peck.
Prior to being sidelined for Games 5 and 6 against the Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals this month, Bradley had embraced the starting shooting guard role he stepped into in March following Ray Allen's ankle injury. After a rookie year in which he averaged just five minutes over 31 games, the 21-year-old guard established himself as an athletic defensive stopper who could contribute on offense as well.
Bradley, like most members of the Celtics, suffered injuries throughout the season. Just as he persevered in high school, he continued to push through with a quiet focus in the NBA.
Its almost like thats just in his DNA, said Peck. He never whined or complained. He was so focused. Avery was one of those guys that, to me, is so focused and he just knows exactly what he wants to do and how he wants to do it and what his ultimate goal is, that everything else, not that its a distraction, but its almost like he has no personality other than what hes locked in on.
Sometimes itd be like, Hey, Avery, that was actually a joke. So I know everybody, regardless of your personality, thought it was funny. He wouldnt laugh. He was just so focused and serious with us that it made you appreciate from a competitive standpoint and from a coachs standpoint him as a player and what he brought to the table.
Peck was not surprised to watch Bradley play as long as he could with the shoulder injury. There is no question he wants to help the Celtics as they look to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals and pursue a championship. That, perhaps, is more painful than the injury itself.
I feel bad for him, said Peck. But at the same time, I know more than anything in the worst way he wants to be out there playing. Thats all he knows. Thats all hes ever known -- Im a basketball player. This is what I do. This what I love to do, so this is what I need to do. I need to be out there. I cant comprehend not being out there.