MIAMI Before the Boston Celtics actually hit the floor, you'll often find Paul Pierce jumping rope or doing some other stretching-related exercise to stay loose.
While it may seem a bit odd to see him doing side-to-side stepping with an elastic band wrapped around the outside of both knees, Pierce is doing it for one reason - he doesn't have a choice.
"This is what it takes for me to come out here," he told CSNNE.com prior to facing Miami. "If I don't do that, I can't do this" as he promptly raises up and makes a jump-shot.
Pierce has been playing at a high level most of this season, something he attributes to working diligently on making sure his body is in shape to absorb the physical pounding it takes on a nightly basis.
"It's been a hard year for everybody, all teams, lots of games," said C's coach Doc Rivers. "Guys that you thought would never miss a game, the Derrick Rose's of the world, even (Dwyane) Wade it's just one of those years."
Making Pierce's durability even more surprising is that he began the season so banged up, he was forced to miss the first three games with a right heel injury. And upon his return, it was clear that his conditioning was not where it needed to be on top of him not being in good basketball shape.
"It's tough to play catch-up in our league, and he's done a great job of that," Rivers said.
Early in the season, Rivers recalls seeing Pierce running on the treadmill an hour before tip-off, "and knowing he may struggle in the game, but it would get him right for the stretch and that's what he's done," Rivers said.
Isaiah Thomas isn't a starter for the Eastern Conference All-Star team. But A. Sherrod Blakely expects it to be more motivation for the Celtics point guard.
BOSTON -- “I didn’t feel that love after I made a pitching change in the sixth inning,” Terry Francona said after a 45-second standing ovation from Boston fans upon receiving the MLB Manager of the Year award from the BBWAA Thursday.
It’s without question the love for Francona runs deep in the city. Why wouldn’t it? He was the leader in breaking the 86-year old curse, and wound up winning another World Series title for Boston three years later.
Actually, he was more of a co-leader, working alongside the same person who won the MLB Executive of the Year honors from the BBWAA for 2016.
Theo Epstein -- who received an ovation 17 seconds shorter than Francona, but who’s counting -- reminisced about the Red Sox ownership group that took a chance on a young kid who wasn’t necessarily the ideal candidate to take over as GM of a team, but now that’s helped him build the Chicago Cubs into a winning franchise and establish a great working environment.
This October marks 13 years since the ’04 championship, 10 years since ’07 and six years since the pair left Boston. Without question they’ve left their mark on the city and forever changed Red Sox baseball.
And while the fans showed their undying gratitude for Francona with an ovation almost as long as his acceptance speech, the Indians manager recognized the favor the current Red Sox brass has done for him.
“I’d like to thank Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox for getting Chris Sale the hell out of the Central Division,” Francona said.