Blakely: Appreciating the Celtics Way


Blakely: Appreciating the Celtics Way

BOSTON The storied history and tradition that is the Boston Celtics is among the many alluring qualities that players embrace once they're here.

But in the NBA, history means little without an attractive present and an optimistic future -- the latter two very much in the air with the Celtics.

They are coming off an unexpected run to the Eastern Conference finals where they were eliminated in seven games by the Miami Heat.

With only four players currently under contract for next season and a pair of first-round picks in the June 28th NBA draft, the Celtics have a number of holes to fill, obviously.

Danny Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations, told that he plans to include Celtic free-agents-to-be in the pool of talent he'll look to add from via free agency this offseason.

Those guys get it. They understand what being a Celtic is about.

And while others may have heard about it, some of the Celtic newbies this year learned first-hand that it's so much more than what they were told.

"There really is such a thing as the Celtic way," Boston guard Keyon Dooling told recently. "Accountability, respect for the game, and expectations that are always high, higher than most, that's part of it."

Added Brandon Bass: "You're part of something bigger here than you find other places. Some might see it as 'Boston, they just another team.' Nah. It's not like that. This is a special organization, man, it really is."

Now if only the C's could convince other free agents of that.

For years, the Celtics have not been viewed as a free-agent hotbed, with players often citing the high cost of living and cold weather as reasons to stay away.

In addition, having Rajon Rondo and the Big Three around for five years left little room for a player hoping to develop into an immediate impact player.

And when you throw in the the fact that the Celtics have had so much salary cap space tied up between Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo, making significant changes to the roster has been challenging, to say the least.

We saw that play out during the offseason when the Celtics tried to trade Rondo to New Orleans for Chris Paul who ultimately got his wish and wound up being traded to the Los Angeles Clippers. Boston tried to work out a multi-team deal to land David West, but he too spurned the C's and ultimately signed with the Indiana Pacers. Celtics coach Doc Rivers recently revealed that Boston was close on a deal involving rebounding-magnet Reggie Evans, but that fell apart and Evans eventually signed with the Clippers.

Any of those players would have fit in well here in Boston.

But as important as it may be to have players who are willing to embrace the past, Ainge knows his priority has to be the same every year -- add talented players.

And with that talent, Ainge wants the right fit for Doc Rivers' system in addition to being able to play off of the talents of the C's core group which now consists of Pierce and Rondo.

There will be plenty of time to figure out what it takes to be a Celtic, something that's not fully understood until well after the ink on a new deal is dry.

Ray Allen has a stealth-like confidence about him that's been around since, well, forever. That confidence stems from a long and lengthy track record of success wherever he has played.

But when he was part of a draft-night trade to Boston in 2007, whatever achievements and accomplishments he had prior, meant little around these parts.

He was joining what is arguably the most tradition-rich franchise in the NBA, where expectations are high and mediocrity isn't acceptable.

"It's always been somewhat intimidating," Allen said. "You walk into a building every day and you see the banners and the retired jerseys in the building," Allen said. "It just always makes you work a little bit harder. When (John) Havlicek is in the building, when (Bob) Cousy is around. Tommy (Heinsohn) is watching us every day. Bill Russell is at the games. Those are like our big brothers."

There are few franchises -- not just the NBA, but professional sports as a whole -- that have the kind of longstanding track record of greatness that the C's have.

For someone like Allen who appreciates the journey that is NBA basketball, playing for the Celtics is something that's unique compared to other teams he suited up for.

And to do so with a pair of fellow future Hall-of-Famers in Pierce and Garnett has made his time in Boston even more special.

"Five years has gone quickly," Allen said. "But it seems like it has lasted forever. We've played in a lot of big games. We won a championship together. It's been a privilege. I can definitely say that."

Monday, March 27: Hall call for Habs' Markov?

Monday, March 27: Hall call for Habs' Markov?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, with crunch time coming in the NHL.

*Jack Todd says that the Hall of Fame needs to reserve a spot for Montreal defenseman Andrei Markov. Is he Hall of Fame material, or Hall of Very Good material?

*The playoff streak is coming to an end for Joe Louis Arena as the Detroit Red Wings finish out a lost season.

*Thanks to PHT writer James O’Brien for providing the kind of relaxing hockey moment that any dog lover could appreciate.

*Boston College standout Colin White has signed an amateur tryout deal with the Senators, but it remains to be seen if the entry level contract is coming.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Mitch Melnick offers his hot takes about the Canadiens after a 3-1 win over the Ottawa Senators.

*The US men’s hockey team may join the women’s team in boycotting the world championships if there isn’t a resolution soon.

*A group of longtime Leafs writers share some of their best stories from the press box

*In the shameless interest of self-promotion, here’s my hit with Toucher and Rich this morning talking about riding the hot hand with Anton Khudobin.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Tracey Myers wonders if a lopsided loss will snap the Blackhawks out of their malaise.

*Sidney Crosby fires back at Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk after he called the NHL star a whiner recently.

*For something completely different: getting to know new baseball analyst John Kruk, who we all should know pretty well at this point.



Jaylen Brown steps away from social media to prepare for playoffs

Jaylen Brown steps away from social media to prepare for playoffs

BOSTON –  Like most of the NBA’s Millennials, Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown is active on social media.

But if you holla at him on Twitter or Instagram these days, don’t be surprised if you don’t hear back anytime soon.
That’s because Brown is stepping away from the social media game to better focus on his first postseason journey with the Celtics, which begins next month.
Brown said he isn’t the only player inside the Celtics locker room who has pledged to do things differently leading up to the playoffs.
More than anything, the changes Brown speaks of are symbolic to illustrate the need for everyone to make sacrifices critical for a team’s success.
“I’ve paid attention to that, how a lot of guys are making the sacrifices necessary to add to this team,” Brown said. “Some guys are only drinking water. Some guys are cutting out cursing or other aspects. Some guys have some personal stuff...Everybody is putting themselves in that mind frame to sacrifice for the betterment of the team.”
He added that taking a step back from social media was just one of a handful of changes he has made leading up to the playoffs.
“Some are personal, but some, just being a lot more focused and more locked in, eliminating distractions,” Brown told “This generation, we’re so social media dependent. So just eliminating that, filling that in with other stuff whether it’s gym time or film or just time to yourself instead of it being so predicated on the cell phone.”
Brown understands the battle Boston (48-26) is in for the top spot in the East heading into the playoffs and how important getting that would be to this team.

“It means a lot, especially being a rookie from my perspective, being on a team that’s number one seed in the East and being a contributor.” Brown said. “What more could you ask for, coming in to the league, coming into the NBA. It’s been great for me. It’s been a blessing.”
While Brown has had his share of ups and downs as a rookie, there’s no ignoring the fact that he’s progressing at a brisk rate.

“Offensively, I’m getting a little more comfortable scoring the ball; mid-range game, I’m developing,” he said. “Defensively, being in the right spot at the right time, stuff like that. I’ve come a long way and I still have a long way to go.”