Terry dedicates himself to helping Christmas succeed with Celtics

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Terry dedicates himself to helping Christmas succeed with Celtics

The text message alert woke him up around 8:00pm on Tuesday night. Dionte Christmas had been taking a nap, part of his routine to get more rest in preparation for his first NBA season. He reached for his phone and read the question on the screen.
Me and Jason are going to the gym. You want to come?
The message came from a mutual friend of Christmas and Jason Terry. The rookie bolted out of bed, grabbed his gym gear, and headed from his hotel to the Boston Celtics practice facility in Waltham for an impromptu workout session with his new teammate.
I definitely wasnt going to miss an opportunity to do that, Christmas told CSNNE.com in a telephone interview. So I got right up. He said, Well be in the gym in five minutes. I was there in three minutes.
Christmas has spent the past few weeks hitting the court with Terry, trying soak up every ounce of advice offered by the veteran before the start of training camp. The two first met five years ago at a Reebok Breakout Camp in Philadelphia. Terry, a Reebok athlete, was one of the guests at the camp while Christmas, a junior at Temple University, was a counselor. Their interaction was brief Terry had a packed schedule that day but Christmas remembers him mentioning he had watched the young guard play for the Owls.
This summer Christmas joined Terry in the Reebok family by signing with the company. The deal came shortly after Christmas inked a partially guaranteed contract with the Celtics following impressive summer leagues in both Orlando in Las Vegas.
In August, the two officially met as teammates when they spent the week at Reeboks Canton, Mass. headquarters with fellow athletes John Wall, Jameer Nelson, Ramon Sessions, and Maalik Wayns. They worked out together, ate group dinners, and relaxed by going bowling. During this time, Christmas and Terry also began developing a relationship that quickly evolved as the summer continued.
Once we got to Boston, Jason told me he was going to look after me, Christmas said. He told me we were going to get in the gym together a lot, he wanted to see me be the best player I could be for Boston and be the best person I could be, period.
The hours spent together in the gym quickly accumulated. Terry wasted no time encouraging Christmas to push himself. The rookie thrived on the veterans passion for the game. Soon, he began incorporating Terrys methods into his own preparation.
Even though Christmas is entering his first NBA season, he has years of overseas experience behind him having played in Greece, Israel, and Turkey. At 25 years old, he had his own routine and techniques. Yet after watching Terry for a few short weeks, Christmas has made changes to his approach.
He likes to get in and out, but he goes real hard for an hour, said Christmas. Its something Im not used to. Im used to doing my thing, take a break, getting back at it. He goes straight through.
Hes a great shooter and I kind of thought I was a great shooter, but he is a great shooter. We have drills where we compete and I cant let him get too far ahead of me because he can go off making like 30 straight shots. Its just tough, its real competitive. Hes so focused and seeing him like that at 34, 35, its real humbling.
This guys coming in at nighttime when nobodys in the gym. Tuesday it was just like me, him, and the janitor in the gym just getting it in for a good hour, working hard. He does it when nobodys looking. Thats the stuff that gives me motivation because I like to get work in during the day and rest at night, but I see what it takes to be successful in the league. Hes a champion, he has been very successful over his career, so watching him and talking to him, I know what it takes.
Since the 6-foot-2 Terry also plays the shooting guard position, Christmas, 6-foot-5, has been able to mirror his moves. The two run through shooting drills and reenact possible game scenarios in which they are required to create their own shots. Terry emphasizes repetition when completing the tasks.
I think our games are very similar, said Christmas. Jason, he isnt as big as me, but hes very, very, smart as far as getting open to get his shot off. Hes a great, great, great shooter. He works just like I do to get off of screens, to get open shots. He knows how to use his players, he knows how to lead his opponent, and I think Im the same way.
Christmas admits he was considered the man overseas, but signing with the Celtics means joining a league where his skills havent been tested. Battling it out against Terry in practice sessions has given him a boost of confidence to know he can make an impact in the NBA.
Usually when I walk in the gym with someone, Im usually the best shooter in the gym, Christmas said. Flat out, like I know I can shoot better than all these guys. But when Im in the gym with Jason, I get to really test how good of a shooter I really am. Jason is a great shooter and for me to shoot the ball as well as I am with him shows that I really can shoot the ball well at this level.
Terry has stressed succeeding in the NBA goes beyond what a player does with the ball in his hands. Christmas echoed the advice he has received from the former Sixth Man of the Year to always stay ready, regardless of how many minutes he is or isnt playing. If Christmas missteps on a play, Terry stops to walk him through it. If the rookie has a question about a strategy, the veteran talks it over with him.
Terry has also offered ways to save energy on the court, eat healthier, and incorporate more rest into his daily routine. Most significantly, he has provided Christmas with unwavering support and will continue to as he transitions into the league during his rookie year.
He told me at Reebok, Every time I see you slacking, Im just going to look at you and tell you youre not going back, meaning Im not going back overseas, said Christmas. I said, I hope youre right. So every time I looked at him, hed just give me a look or he keeps telling me Im going hard. Its just a confidence booster in itself, him being in the gym, his presence.
Christmas appreciates the journey to earn a place in the NBA and respects the road Terry has paved to be a part of it for the past 13 seasons. Terry had only played for two teams prior to signing with the Celtics as a free agent. Even after leaving the Dallas Mavericks, team owner Marc Cuban said he would consider Terrys desire to have his Mavs jersey retired.
Terry is revered as one of the good guys in the league, from his dedication and discipline to basketball to his commitment to the communities in which he plays and lives.
No matter who you are, who youre playing against, you have to respect every opponent he always says things like that, said Christmas. I think thats why hes so respected around the league because he respects the game so much and everybody sees that. I saw that the first time me and him even got on the court together. He respects the game so much and he doesnt take plays off. He always wants to win. I think thats what guys respect the most about Jason and thats what Im taking from him.
Christmas will turn 26 on September 15, the same day Terry will turn 35. The younger guard promises in spite of Terrys intense desire to win, he is one of the most easy-going and humorous teammates he has had.
He brings life to the locker room, he brings life to practice, said Christmas. From the time hes stretching, hes cracking little jokes here, little jokes there. Once they blow the whistle, hes serious. But hes a funny guy. Thats what I love about him. Hes going to be 35 but I swear hes like 22, seriously, at heart.
He continued, Hes just fun to be around. I could be around Jason Terry all day.
The time he has spent with Terry could help Christmas be around him and the Celtics all season.

Bird not renewing Vogel's contract; McHale not a candidate

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Bird not renewing Vogel's contract; McHale not a candidate

Pacers head coach Frank Vogel, a good friend of Brad Stevens, is out in Indiana.

Pacers president Larry Bird made the official announcement on Thursday.

Vogel’s contract was up in Indiana and Bird elected to not renew it. That, according to Bird, was hard for Vogel to hear.

Both Bird and Vogel spoke shortly before Bird’s press conference with members of the media, and that’s when Bird gave him the news.

There is speculation now as to who will take over as head coach. With Kevin McHale removing himself from consideration for the Sacramento Kings job, there was some thought that he could become the head coach of the Pacers under good friend and former teammate Bird.

That isn’t going to happen either.

Which players fill Celtics Top 5 draft needs?

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Which players fill Celtics Top 5 draft needs?

BOSTON – When it comes to the NBA Draft, nobody has the flexibility to address a need the way the Celtics can this year.
 
If you are a draft-eligible player expected to be among the 60 names called next month, you are within the Celtics’ reach of being drafted.
 
That’s what having eight draft picks (three in the first round and five in the second) can do for you.
 
And while the Celtics have lots of needs, here’s a look at five specifically that they can address through the draft, and the best players to fill those voids.
 
5. Undervalued talent: Marquese Chriss
Getting players whose talent exceeds where they are drafted is certainly something the Celtics would love to do in a year when they have so many picks. Marquese Chriss of Washington could be that player. He’s a 6-9 forward who in this small-ball era in the NBA, can play both forward positions and have a matchup advantage at both spots. He’s targeted to be selected in the middle of the first round which makes him a prime target of the Celtics who could tab him with their second, first-round selection which will be the 16th overall pick.
 
 
4. Rim Protection
You have to give the Celtics props for having a defense that ranked 4th in the NBA despite no legit rim protector other than 6-9 Amir Johnson. As good as Johnson was, the Celtics need to add at least another player or two with rim protection as their strength. Enter Michigan State’s Deyonta Davis. He’s limited offensively in terms of what he can do, but his knack for blocking/altering shots, lateral quickness, vertical leap and overall strength makes him a force in the middle. He too is a player Boston has to give some thought to selecting if he’s still on the board (he’s considered a possible late-lottery pick) when it’s time for the Celtics to choose at No. 16.
 
 
3. Defensive versatility
One of the reasons Boston’s defense was so good this season was because of its ability to make defensive switches and it not create huge mismatches. Having players with the talent and skill to defend multiple positions will remain something the Celtics will also value on draft night. That’s why Jaylen Brown of Cal could be in the mix depending on where the pick Boston gets from Brooklyn, eventually falls. If it’s outside of the top-4, Brown becomes a viable possibility. He gets props for his strength and ability to use it as a means of scoring. But NBA teams are just as excited about his potential as a defender, already possessing an NBA-ready body with the tools to potentially defend all three perimeter positions.
 
2. Wing scoring
The Celtics ranked 11th in 3-pointers taken per game (26.1) but only 28th in 3-point percentage (.335) which shows that they were getting plenty of long-range shots but unable to make them with any consistency. Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield could change all that. He was hands-down the best shooter in college basketball this past season. And with him being a senior, he’s more likely to come in and make an immediate impact than many of his younger draft brethren who are judged more on potential than proven work. If the Celtics wind up with a top-3 pick, Hield would be a bit of a stretch. But if Boston is on the clock with the No. 4, 5 or 6th pick, he should be on their short list of possible targets.
 
 
1. Superstar potential
The best shot Boston has of landing that superstar they’ve longed for, is to land the top overall pick. And with that pick, there’s a growing consensus that Duke’s Brandon Ingram should be that guy rather than LSU’s Ben Simmons. Ingram has a game that in many ways is reminiscent to a young Kevin Durant. But at this stage, Ingram is a better 3-point shooter (he shot 41 percent on 3s in his lone season at Duke) which is one of the many areas Boston could use a boost through the draft.
 
 

Ainge: McHale's clothesline on Rambis was 'sweet'

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Ainge: McHale's clothesline on Rambis was 'sweet'

If you know anything about basketball in the 1980s and early 1990s, you know it was a physical game. And in the playoffs, that physicality multiplied.

The Boston Celtics were no exception to that. There are countless highlights of Celtics players getting into it with their opponents, but perhaps the most famous incident was when Kevin McHale clothelined the Lakers' Kurt Rambis in Game 4 of the 1984 NBA Finals.

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge was a member of that team, and discussed that play on Thursday morning with the guys from the Toucher and Rich Show.

“I remember that we were at shootaround the morning of the Kevin McHale / Kurt Rambis clothesline incident,” Ainge said. “They had just beat us by 30 . . . it was Hollywood showtime Lakers all the way and we were humiliated. We came to practice the next day and we had some guys chirping about that, like, ‘We have to take some hard fouls. We cannot let these guys fast break over us and dunk on us in transition. We have to take some hard fouls.’ And I said to the whole team, I like screamed at them, I said, ‘Hey listen, I’m booed in every arena in this league because I’m the only guy who takes hard fouls. I need some of you guys to take some hard fouls. And sure enough Kevin clothelined Kurt Rambis and that was sweet.”