Soft-spoken Lee looking to make big impact with Celtics

Soft-spoken Lee looking to make big impact with Celtics
October 3, 2012, 7:13 pm
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ISTANBUL There is a quiet, unassuming manner in which Courtney Lee goes about his business.

He knows he's good, but doesn't need to run down stats or run his mouth to prove it.

Instead, he just goes about his business focused on doing whatever job he's asked to do.

Lee's low-key approach is similar to another former Celtic player who, like Lee, bounced around a few times before finally finding an NBA home.

That former Celtic was Chauncey Billups, with Boston being the first of many teams to ship him out before he would eventually blossom into one of the NBA's better point guards just a few years ago with the Detroit Pistons.

Fast forward to Lee, who is hoping he'll have a similar emergence with the Boston Celtics.

Not surprisingly, Lee considers Billups a good friend who has at times doled out advice to him -- even during games.

"You know him, he's Mr. Big Shot," Lee told CSNNE.com following the C's three hour practice on Wednesday. "He's won a championship. With me coming into the league, just playing hard, doing my role . . . we've built up a mutual respect."

Lee's relationship with the Billups family goes even deeper.

When Lee played at Western Kentucky, he recalls playing against Billups' younger brother Rodney who attended the University of Denver.

And while no one will confuse their games, the way they go about handling themselves and the pressure of being in the NBA is similar.

Paul Pierce knows both players and agrees that they do share a similar demeanor.

"Courtney is pretty laid back, kind of chill," Pierce said.

But on the floor, Pierce has seen a different side of Lee that he likes . . . a lot.

Pierce views Lee as one of his more competitive teammates, based on the way he has performed in practice as well as how he has fared with other teams. And it is that side of Lee that, in Pierce's mind, makes him a good fit even though he doesn't have an outwardly strong personality.

"We want guys that produce; strong willed," Pierce said. "Those are the type of players we feel we need to win a championship."

Pierce recalls a game last season in which he was playing against Lee's former team, the Houston Rockets, and Lee asked to guard him for a while.

"He really accepts the challenge," Pierce said. "Those are the type of guys you want, veteran guys who want to step up and take the challenge."

Competing for a title was among the many factors Lee considered when choosing to play for Boston instead of another team that he says offered him more money. And it appears Lee will have that opportunity in Boston after the C's signed him to a four-year deal worth 21.35 million.

Having a long-term deal certainly puts Lee's mind at ease some, but he says having played for three teams in just four NBA seasons isn't all bad.

"There's nothing wrong with bouncing around," Lee said. "You gotta get that right feel. I feel I was in a couple right fits."

Originally drafted by Orlando with the No. 22 pick in 2008, Lee was traded the following summer along with Rafer Alston, to New Jersey for Vince Cater.

"That first year in New Jersey, they wouldn't do the trade unless I was in it," Lee said. "So I look at it in a sense, it shows I have value around this league."

Especially to the Celtics who see Lee as a player with tremendous versatility at both ends of thee court.

"Just a solid player," C's coach Doc Rivers said. "He's a really good basketball player. When people hear solid play, they think average. But he's better than average. He does a lot of things well."

He'll have to in order to make the kind of impact both he and the Celtics are looking for this season.