Friday FT's: Shaq on Kobe; Krstic finds his groove

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Friday FT's: Shaq on Kobe; Krstic finds his groove

Welcome back to Friday Free Throws, a weekly recap of the most interesting news, notes, and information that have not made the headlines but are still worth a read. In spite of the NBA lockout, there's still plenty of hoops to talk about.

How many times have you heard this before? Think Shaq vs. Kobe is over? Think again.

Rewind: Last month Bryant was asked about ONeal during a radio interview in Italy. Bryant said, I like players who work out. I used to do that 67 hours per day. I cannot stand players who practice for 30 minutes. I need to say something to them."

But cmon, did you really think this would be the end of it?

This week in an interview with the New York Times, ONeal addressed Bryants comments by choosing not to address them.

No, he said when asked if he had any response. I dont need to work out. My numbers speak for itself. My three finals M.V.P.s speaks for itself.

And so the saga lives on . . .

Krstic Finds His Groove

Need a laugh during the lockout? Nenad Krstic was one of the first NBA players to sign overseas this summer when he joined CSKA Moscow. So what has he been up to in Russia? Aside from playing basketball, of course, Krstic has been working on his moves off the court. Well, I guess you could sort of call it that. Check it out for yourself here.

Green, Perkins to Hoop it Up with Durant, James

Jeff Green and Kendrick Perkins are slated to participate in a high-profile exhibition game on Sunday night in Oklahoma City. Hosted by Greens former and Perkins current teammate Kevin Durant, the US Fleet Tracking Basketball Invitational will also feature LaMarcus Aldridge, Carmelo Anthony, Michael Beasley, Jamal Crawford, Johnny Flynn, Rudy Gay, James Harden, LeBron James, Chris Paul, Amar'e Stoudemire, John Wall, Russell Westbrook, and Damien Wilkins, according to the event website.

Johnsons Celebrity Status

JaJuan Johnsons NBA debut is still on hold during the lockout, but this weekend he is going back to campus with celebrity status. On Saturday the rookie will be the guest celebrity at Purdue Universitys 12th Boiler Tailgate, an initiative against high-risk drinking. The Purdue Exponent writes, The tailgate, which begins at 9 a.m. outside of Lambert Field house, will be a host to a variety of entertainment for those in attendance. Aside from a veritable buffet of classic, not to mention free, tailgating foods, games and prizes, there will be Purdue themed music played by local band Woodstove Flapjacks, as well as celebrity appearances. Dallas Mavericks forward and former Boilermaker Brian Cardinal has been a guest at previous tailgates.

Celtics Tweet of the Week

@Marquis_Daniels: Back to AU in the morning continue to better myself if u want it you gotta go n get it ain't no way around it beleedat

Celtics Birthdays of the Week

Mel Counts, who won two championships with the Celtics in the 1960s, turned 70 on October 16 . . . Jay Humphries, who played the final six games of his career with the Celtics during the 1994-95 season, turned 49 on October 17 . . . Kevinn Pinkney turned 28 on October 20. He played six games for the Celtics during the 2006-07 season . . . Shelden Williams, who played for the Celtics during the 2009-10 season, turned 28 on October 21.

This Week in Celtics History

October 16 was the day for a trio of trades over the years: In 1984, the Celtics traded Gerald Henderson to the Seattle SuperSonics for the 1986 first-round draft pick that would later be used to select Len Bias. In 1987, the Cs traded Sam Vincent and Scott Wedman to the SuperSonics in exchange for a second-round pick in the 1988 draft (Sylvester Gray). In 2000, Celtics traded Calbert Cheaney and Robert Pack to the Denver Nuggets in a deal for Chris Herren and Bryant Stith . . . On October 19, 1994, the Celtics signed Greg Minor. He played his entire five-year career in Boston . . . On October 20, 2003, the Celtics traded Tony Delk and Antoine Walker to the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for Raef LaFrentz, Chris Mills, Jiri Welsch and a 2004 first-round draft pick (used to select Delonte West). The Celtics waived Darius Miles on that date in 2008 and Mario West on the same date in 2010 . . . The C's signed Marty Conlon as a free agent in October 21, 1999 (the same day former Celtic Sherman Douglas signed with the New Jersey Nets).

Jaylen Brown may be the future of Celtics, but he's focused on now

Jaylen Brown may be the future of Celtics, but he's focused on now

BOSTON – This is not how this is supposed to work.

When the regular season ends for high draft picks, there’s usually a nice, warm island awaiting their arrival in late-April when the regular season ends.

But this was no typical rookie season for Boston’s Jaylen Brown.

And as we have seen, Brown isn’t your typical rookie.

Drafted with the third overall pick in last June’s NBA draft, the 6-foot-7 Brown found himself in the rotation on a Celtics team that advanced all the way to the Eastern Conference finals before having their season end at the hands of the defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers.

The path towards individual and team success is littered with struggles and potholes of strife along with the pain of disappointment cluttering up things as well.

From within that rubble lies promise; the kind that has Celtics Nation justifiably excited about the future of Brown with the Celtics.

But Brown isn’t about the future, folks.

“I’m excited about the now,” he said. “I’m excited about this summer. I try not to look too far ahead. Everybody talks about the future and how much potential we have; I’m worried about the now. I want to be part of the now. That’s all I’m focused on.”

That kind of focus is among the many reasons that despite being a rookie, his teammates quickly sensed that the now-20-year-old had his sights set on not just talking about cracking the rotation but actually putting in the work that would leave head coach Brad Stevens no choice but to play him.

“He’s going to be really good,” said Boston’s Gerald Green. “If he keeps his same mentality; he’s humble. And continue to work on his game and continue to learn.

Green added, “he couldn’t be in a better place, than being here. With his talent and his work ethic, he’s going to be great.”

But like most rookies, Brown’s play was anything but a steady on-the-rise movement.

His first NBA start came on the road at Cleveland on Nov. 3.

Boston lost the game, but Brown won over many with his career-high 19 points while spending a good deal of the night guarding LeBron James.

In his next four games, Brown scored a total of just 17 points.

And in Boston’s first-round series with Chicago, Brown's role shrunk in the last four games – all Celtics wins. In those games, he played a total of just under 10 minutes.

So what did he do?

He got back in the gym, continued to work on his game and do a better job at making the most of the minutes he received.

More than anything else, Brown attributes his improved play as the season progressed to simply figuring out the NBA landscape as far as what he could do and what he needed to work on, to get better.

Which is why there are many who believe that Brown will be a much better player than the one we saw this season.

That said, he still had decent numbers – 6.6 points and 2.8 rebounds while shooting 45.4 percent from the field and 34.1 percent from 3-point range.

“I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, coming into the NBA,” Brown said. “Throughout the year, I don’t think people expected me to contribute as much as I did. Now just getting to the Eastern  Conference finals and losing, it builds a hunger you know;  I have a bad taste in my mouth. Gotta put in work during the offseason and come back stronger.”

Like Brown, Al Horford came into the NBA as a high draft pick who wound up in the playoffs that rookie season.

Horford can totally relate to Brown’s comments about not knowing what he was getting into.

“The first year you’re really feeling everything out,” Horford said. “Jaylen has an understanding now of what the league is about. It’s a lot for a rookie to handle. Now he has a better idea (so) he can just focus on getting better, working on his game and I expect him to be much better his second year.”

Brown will have the knowledge gained from being part of a team that came within three wins of getting to the NBA Finals.

To come that close is tough to accept, but Brown sees it all as part of a bigger plan for him and his role with the Celtics moving forward.

“I can use it as fuel. I’ve been learning all year,” Brown said. “I’ve had ups, I’ve had downs, I’ve had opportunities, I’ve had mistakes. So I’ve been learning and growing and improving all year and I’m going to continue to grow and improve and prove people wrong, prove doubters wrong.”

And that process Brown speaks of has certainly been aided by being in a successful situation like Boston compared to some other lottery picks who saw lots of playing time but showed minimal growth playing lots of minutes.

“Being on a winning team and developing good habits, learning how to win, play the game the right way … learning that at a young age is really going to help me,” Brown said. “A lot of young guys, they don’t learn that early. They have to figure it out three, four, five years in. I’m happy I learned it now.”

And while the learning will continue on for Brown during this offseason, it won’t be nearly as tough now than it was when he came into the league.

“I know exactly what I’m preparing for,” Brown said. “I expect a really different result.”

Brown added, “I want to be ready for whatever is thrown at me; no excuses whatsoever.”

Now that’s how this is supposed to work!