Ihedigbo: 'I want to be called a champion'


Ihedigbo: 'I want to be called a champion'

At 8 a.m. on Wednesday, James Ihedigbo and the rest of his teammates are ushered into an expansive white tent at IUPUI for another media session. Ihedigbo, in gray team sweats, his jersey, and a red hat, takes a seat at the table marked "1". He shows me the background on his cell phone: it's a photo of the Lombardi trophy raised amid a swirl of confetti.

We talk about football.

I'm into the week. Every morning, every night. This is why we're here.

It's amazing that you can work and get to this point, but it says what you have to be as a team to get here -- how together you have to be, how focused you have to be, how you have to pay attention to every detail.

Because this doesn't happen.

There's a lot of good football teams that have played over the years, but we have the opportunity to be a great football team. And the difference is so small between being good and great. So small.

A lot of times you have tunnel-vision and you're making accomplishments, and people are telling you about the accomplishments that you make, but you don't have a second to notice them because it's on to the next thing, week after week after week.

But this is the only game that's left. There is no tomorrow, there is no next week. It's now.

It means everything, to be called a champion. People pass their boards and are then lawyers their whole lives; people who become doctors are doctors their whole lives. When you are a champion, people will call you a champion for the rest of your life.

I want to be able experience, after you win, the drive that you have to get back, to always pursue that level of football. Tom Brady is a testament to it. Kevin Faulk's been in the league forever and he just continues to play for this opportunity.

It says a lot about the man -- the ability to stay humble, to be successful, but continue to be driven.

My teammates are keeping me grounded in the moment. We haven't done anything yet. Right now, we're AFC champions who've had a good season. We want to have a great one. Winning the Super Bowl determines that.

The game will be here before we know it, he tells me. We'll talk more about that tomorrow.

WATCH: Celtics vs. Hornets

WATCH: Celtics vs. Hornets

Tune into CSN to watch the Celtics host the Hornets at TD Garden. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by McDonald's on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

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Celtics-Hornets preview: Boston, Charlotte heading in opposite directions

Celtics-Hornets preview: Boston, Charlotte heading in opposite directions

BOSTON -- The last time Boston saw the Charlotte Hornets last month, both teams were streaking in the wrong direction with each coming in having lost three in a row.

Both come into tonight’s game streaking, although in two very different directions.

Boston (25-15) has won 12 of its last 15 games to firmly establish itself as the third-best team in the East behind Cleveland and Toronto. Meanwhile the Hornets (20-20) are on the cusp of falling below .500 for the first time this season after losing their last four games.

Still, Celtics coach Brad Stevens has seen enough of this Hornets team to know that a win tonight won’t come easily.

“This is a good team,” Stevens said. “We all know Charlotte. They don’t beat themselves. We’ve had to play really well against those guys. This is going to be a tough one, as we all know.”

Figuring out why these two teams are trending in opposite directions isn’t all that complicated.

For the Celtics, their success of late has hinged heavily on their ability to make 3-pointers. Meanwhile, Charlotte’s problems have had a lot to do with a tough slate of road games (all four of their recent losses were on the road) and their inability to make shots which has been an issue in some form for them all season regardless of the opponent.

Look at the last four games, all of which the Hornets lost while the Celtics won three of their four games in that span.

The Hornets rank 21st in scoring with a 101.5 points per game average while the Celtics average 110.8 points which ranks 8th in the league.

Charlotte ranks dead-last in the league the last four games when it comes to shooting the ball (40.5 percent), while Boston comes in 18th at 46.0 percent.

But it’s the 3-point shot and its impact on having an effective field goal percentage, that really separates these two.

Boston has averaged a league-best 15.3 made 3-pointers in the last four games while the Hornets and their 9.8 made 3’s ranks 20th.

And as far as its impact on eFG%, Boston comes in with the eighth-best eFG% in the league (54.8 percent) while the Hornets next-to-last in the NBA with an eFG% of .462.

So what does that mean tonight?

Boston will look to continue being fueled offensively by good ball movement and attacking the rim which in turn should result in lots of good looks from 3-point range which is clearly a strength of this team.

Charlotte will search for other sources of offense besides former UConn star Kemba Walker who is on the short list of candidates for a spot on this year’s Eastern Conference all-star roster.

As was the case in Charlotte’s 102-93 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday, an off-night shooting for Walker (17 points, 7-for-23 shooting with three assists) left the Hornets extremely vulnerable to defeat. Similar struggles tonight will provide a similar ending for Charlotte which would allow both teams to continue streaking along … something the Celtics wouldn’t mind at all.