OFFSEASON

Nothing he hasn't done before

918797.jpg

Nothing he hasn't done before

If you want it, go out and get it.

Jared Sullinger's family delivered the message to the youngest sibling from the day he began
playing basketball.

At four years old, he learned how to fight for rebounds against his two older brothers. There was no special treatment for the toddler. If he wanted to shoot the ball, he had to fight for it himself.

Success will not be handed to you.

Sullinger took that mentality and ran with it, even when met with obstacles he had to maneuver his way around.

He battled with his weight as a child and suffered teasing from those less tolerant of his struggle.

Other kids called him "Bozo" when his feet skyrocketed to his current shoe size, 18, in middle
school.

Even when he excelled as a high school star and became a standout at The Ohio State
University, his NBA future was clouded by a herniated disc which caused teams to pass by him in the 2012 NBA Draft.

The Celtics saw potential, not red flags, and selected Sullinger with the 21st overall pick. They were aware of his condition and understood there could be issues in the future, but they could not ignore the talent, hustle, and passion exuded by the 20 year old forward.

Sullinger immediately latched on to the Celtics system and tradition when he joined the team last summer. He spoke at Las Vegas Summer League in July about accepting his (lesser) role, and joined his teammates in Waltham a month later for pre-season workouts at the Celtics practice facility. In September, he began soaking up as much wisdom as he could from Kevin Garnett and quickly earned the respect of the hard-to-please veteran, as well as teammates and coaches alike.

While he faced rookie challenges in game competition (he fouled out six games in January
alone), those in the Celtics organization took notice of his quick progress. After years in which rookies rode the bench, Sullinger was given the nod to start in five games, including Sunday's high-tension battle against the Miami Heat. He had also started Wednesday against the Sacramento Kings in which he left the game early in the first quarter with back spasms. On Friday, the Celtics announced he underwent lumbar disc surgery at the New England Baptist Hospital and will miss the remainder of the season.

The Celtics expect Sullinger (6.0 points, 5.9 rebounds) to be ready in time for training camp next season. On the day of his surgery, the rookie is most likely already thinking about his return.

The road to his recovery will not be easy, but nothing about Sullinger's career has been. If he
wants it, he will have to go out and get it.

He's been doing it his whole life.