Over the weekend, Greg Stiemsma reportedly agreed to terms with the Timberwolves. But this afternoon, The Stiemer made his move to Minnesota as they say on the "Internet" Twitter official:
I"m very grateful to the Celtics and the City of Boston, but I'm very excited to be the newest member of the Minnesota Timberwolves! Greg Stiemsma (@gregstiemsma) July 24, 2012
God speed, Stiemer. God Shamgod speed.
Despite spending only one abbreviated season in Boston, we won't soon forget Stiemsma's time with the Celtics.
His presence almost immediately piqued the interest of fans. In some part due to his unique name. In some part, if we're being honest, due to the color of his skin. For those first few weeks, most of us figured he'd spend the season as a seven-foot Brian Scalabrine. The team's newest victory cigar. And we loved it. Stiemsma Fever was more contagious than the Motaba virus.
But it didn't take long to figure out that, above all else, the guy could actually play. That while he was far from an All-Star, Stiemsma was an exceptional shot blocker and a solid rebounder. That despite possessing one of the ugliest "jump" shots this side of Luke Harangody, he also had a pretty decent touch.
The shot blocking was what stood out to Tommy Heinsohn:
"His timing and how he goes about blocking shots does remind me of (Bill) Russell."
Tommy obviously meant no harm by the comparison, but it was one of the worst things to happen to Stiemsma in terms how he was perceived by people in Boston. StiemsmaRussell became a thing. Even though no one actually believed he was the next Bill Russell, people became obsessed with pointing out that he wasn't.
He'd make a big block or grab a big rebound and someone was always there with a sarcastic: "Haha! There's the next Bill Russell!" It was a lot more fun to joke about that ridiculous comparison than to see Stiemsma's emergence for what it was. An unbelievable story.
Here's a guy who was undrafted in 2008, then went to play in Turkey, did two stints in South Korea, played a season in the D-League and then went back to Turkey. A guy who in the midst of all his world traveling, signed contracts with the Timberwolves and Cavaliers but was cut both times before ever seeing the court. A guy who might have run out of chances if he hadn't caught the eye of the Celtics who were in desperate need of one more big man at last summer's Pan-Am Games (where he shot an absurd .889 from the field).
Less than a month after signing with Boston, Stiemsma found himself in the starting line-up alongside Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. Think about that for a second. From Seoul to sharing the floor with three and a half Hall of Famers.
Stiemer wasn't a season-long staple in the Celtics rotation, though. In fact, there were long stretches when Doc Rivers moved away from him entirely. For the year, Stiemsma only averaged 13.9 minutes a game. That's fewer minutes than Keyon Dooling. Barely a minute more than Marquis Daniels. But he made the minutes count.
For instance, of the NBA's top 30 shot blockers last year, Stiemsma who ranked 14th was the only one who averaged less than 20 minutes a game. He blocked more shots in 13.9 minutes (1.55) than Marcus Camby did in 22.9 minutes, Joakim Noah did in 30.4 minutes and Tyson Chandler did in 33.2. Only Serge Ibaka averaged more blocks per 48 minutes than Stiemsma's 5.33.
By the time, Chris Wilcox and Jermaine O'Neal were done for the season, and Kevin Garnett settled in at the starting center, Stiemsma assumed the role of Boston's sixth man. Not in the traditional sense, but as part of Garnett's 5-5-5 plan Stiemer was technically always the first man off Boston's bench, and almost always provided solid minutes. He continued that role throughout most of the playoffs, until a few tough match-ups and more foot pain than he ever let on forced him out of the rotation.
He only played 2:08 in the C's Game 7 loss in Miami. The final 2:08 of his Celtics career. But over his one abbreviated season in Boston, Stiemsma proved a lot.
First, that he's not Bill Russell. But more importantly, that he IS an NBA player. That he DOES belong in this league. That the next time he's in Turkey or South Korea it will be on vacation.
Sure, it would have been nice to see him continue his career with the Celtics, but considering how far he came, it's just great to see him have a career at all. And there's no question that regardless of where he's playing, Stiemsma will always have fans here in Boston.