With West out, Wafer to see more time


With West out, Wafer to see more time

By Jessica Camerato

BOSTON -- Just days ago, Doc Rivers called Von Wafer and Luke Harangody into his office.

He had an important message to deliver, one that was critical for the two reserves to remember during the season.

"Just stay ready," Wafer recalled.

In spite of their limited minutes, Rivers urged them to be prepared to play at any time. After all, they never knew when their name would get called.

That time came sooner than Wafer expected.

On Wednesday night Delonte West broke his wrist on a drive to the basket. Rivers projects West could be sidelined until the playoffs, leaving a gap in the Celtics backcourt.

Enter Wafer.

Wafer started the fourth quarter and played during a five-minute stretch in which the Celtics went on a critical 9-4 run. Even though his box score reads zeros in every category, he provided a necessary spark off the bench.

"Von Wafer -- his stat line's going to say he did basically nothing -- I thought his defensive energy was phenomenal," said Rivers. "It was great for Von in the locker room. Everybody was grabbing him . . . because defense' and Von' can now go together. And that's a great thing."

Kevin Garnett called Wafer "electric." Rivers watched his words of encouragement pay off.

"After the game Doc tapped me and said, 'See what I told you?' " Wafer told CSNNE.com. "So I've just got to stay ready and I'm just happy to be part of this. There's something special going on."

As Wafer helps his team fight for a championship, he is also undergoing a personal transformation.

In 2009, Wafer was kicked out of a postseason game by coach Rick Adelman for complaining about playing time as a member of the Houston Rockets.

He then left the NBA and headed to Europe, where he clashed with his coach in Greece.

Just last month, Wafer and West fought in the Celtics locker room.

Wafer, who considers himself laidback, goofy, and "a little sensitive," admits he still has a lot to learn. Now in his fifth NBA season, he is gaining a different perspective on the game.

"I'm really learning how to become a professional here," he said. "I've learned so much. People have a lot of negative things to say about me. I just didn't really know, but these guys have really taken me under their wings and they're showing me. I think I've gotten a lot better. It's just part of staying ready and being part of this culture."

Wafer has been putting in extra time practicing against Harangody and Avery Bradley. He is focused on staying ready, even if he doesn't get on the court every night.

And that is the key to investing in Celtics basketball. Wafer has a better appreciation of "we, not me."

"It's not about you, it's about us," he said. "Just stay ready because you never know what could happen. That's what they preach here and I believe in it. Everybody has one goal and whether you're playing or you're cheerleading, you've got to be ready."

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.comjcamerato