Three of hearts: Turiaf, Green, Wilcox share survival story

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Three of hearts: Turiaf, Green, Wilcox share survival story

BOSTON -- The scars protruded above their jerseys, two more obvious than the one that has faded over the years.

The marks represented the struggles and fears all three players had overcome, and the triumphs they had achieved to share the same NBA court.

The Boston Celtics Jeff Green and Chris Wilcox and Los Angeles Clippers Ronny Turiaf are survivors of open heart surgery. Turiaf underwent the procedure in July of 2005, while both Green and Wilcox had season-ending surgeries in January and March of 2012.

The trio stepped on the TD Garden parquet to start the second quarter on Sunday afternoon. They played a total of less than four minutes together, but every second, every loose ball, every contested shot was monumental for Turiaf.

"It's something that's very powerful that transcends the game of basketball, that's very powerful and intense," he told CSNNE.com. "To be able to share a moment like this with three heart surgery survivors on the basketball court, I don't feel that people realize what just happened and they think they're just watching a basketball game."

Turiaf reached out to Green and Wilcox last season when he learned of their conditions. He had leaned on former NBA player Fred Hoiberg during his surgery and wanted to be the same support system for the two Celtics.

"I told them what to expect, told them I was there if they ever needed to talk," Turiaf said. "We talked a couple times here and there, trying to see if I could be of any help. I was very fortunate and very happy to be able to share my experiences with them."

Turiaf greeted Wilcox with a compliment that only a select number of people could appreciate -- "Your scar looks good," Turiaf told him.

Then they got down to business. As an NBA player, Turiaf battled with both Green and Wilcox. As survivor, he understood the significance of the opportunity to do so.

"Once you go past the moment where you feel good, you have a tendency to put it in the back of your mind because, to be honest with you, it's not a very pleasant experience," Turiaf said. "So you don't really want to bring it up, but whenever we see each other there is a great deal of respect. When we see each other's eyes, we definitely know what each other has been through."

The short amount of time Green, Turiaf, and Wilcox played together blend into the rest of the box score, but those few moments are a headline story in their lives.

"30, 40 years ago it probably would have not been possible," said Turiaf. "This day and age, for us to be professional athletes and exert our bodies to the limit the way that we do, to be able to have a stronger heart, to be able to perform at a high level, and to be playing against each other in the same league where there are only so many of us in it, it's very powerful and I think it's a testament to technology, faith, and how good life is."

Report: Paul Pierce '50-50' about retirement after Clippers' exit

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Report: Paul Pierce '50-50' about retirement after Clippers' exit

After the Clippers were elminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night, a disappointed Paul Pierce told ESPN that he was "50-50" about retirement. 

In a video after Portland's Game 6 victory posted on oregonlive.com, the former Celtics captain said his "heart is broken" by another playoff elimination. 

Pierce signed a a three-year, $10 million contract to return home (he grew up in Inglewood, Calif.) and play for his old coach Doc Rivers in Los Angeles.  He'll be 39 next season and coming off the worst season of his career. Pierce averaged 6.1 points, 36 percent shooting and 18 minutes a game, all career lows.

How does Isaiah Thomas improve? Eating right is one step

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How does Isaiah Thomas improve? Eating right is one step

WALTHAM, Mass. -- This past season, Isaiah Thomas took a major step forward to becoming more than just a solid NBA player, but one of the game’s best.
 
He knows he won’t stay among the elite for long if he doesn’t make some changes with the most notable being to his diet.
 
“I do not eat good,” Thomas acknowledged following his exit interview this week. “I eat like a young guy, a young guy who got a little bit of money, fast food every day. But I’m definitely going to change.”
 
The change becomes necessary not only in light of how the season ended for him and the Celtics, but also for his long-term goals, which include playing in the NBA until he’s at least 40 years old.
 
“I’m not that old but the greatest players took care of their bodies the best,” Thomas said.
 
Among those cited by Thomas who excelled at taking care of their bodies was former Celtic Ray Allen.
 
But Thomas was quick to add that he won’t go to the lengths that Allen did in maintaining good health.
 
“Because he’s a little crazy with that,” quipped Thomas. “I just want to play at a high level for a long time, like Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant. You have to take care of your body. That’s half the battle of performing out there on the floor.
 
Thomas added, “This is a big summer for me to start doing that.”
 
Eating right is just part of the transformation process for Thomas.
 
He’ll also modify is offseason workouts to include some work in the boxing ring with long time friend Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
 
“I’m definitely work with him a few times, get my conditioning right, probably train, do some boxing stuff on the side, just to get in that type of shape,” Thomas said. “You get in that type of shape you won’t get tired on the basketball floor. This summer is big for me, transforming my body, getting into the best shape possible and coming back and having another all-star year.”
 
For the Celtics to improve upon this past season, they will need Thomas to continue elevating his play as well as the play of those around him.
 
It is that latter point that was among the many reasons Boston’s season is over. No matter what he did, those around him could not step their game up to a level needed in order to get past the Atlanta Hawks.
 
Chalk it up to another lesson learned for Thomas.
 
“You can’t do it on your own,” Thomas said. “There’s no way you can do it on your own. Nobody can do it on your own; and how hard it is to win playoff games, a playoff series. It’s not easy.”
 
And when you come up short, for Thomas is created an uneasiness that he never wants to experience again.
 
“I’m going to do whatever it takes to not have this feeling again,” he said. “It really hurt me. I’m going to use that as motivation to continue to get better and to work on my flaws and make those into my strengths. I promise you’ll I’ll be back better than ever next year.”