Celtics understand banner night will be full of emotion


Celtics understand banner night will be full of emotion

MIAMI -- Defending an NBA title is not easy.

Winning the first game of the following season is no walk in the park, either.

The emotions of opening night interspersed with the feelings that come about in receiving an NBA championship ring can be a bit overwhelming. The Celtics certainly hope that's the case tonight when they open on the road against a Heat team that will receive their championship rings prior to the game.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers knows all too well how challenging it can be to tip the hat one more time in acknowledgment of the previous season's success, and to follow that up with a game that is often against one of the teams you rolled over to win that title.

After Boston's 2008 title, they opened the following season at home against the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers with a hard-earned 90-85 win.

It was a game that Rivers was pleasantly surprised that the C's were able to win.

"I thought we were going to get destroyed," Rivers recalled. "It was a great (ring) ceremony, but when Paul (Pierce) started crying I turned to one of my assistant coaches and said, 'We have no chance tonight.' "

Banner 17 came more than 20 years after the Celtics' previous title, so it was understandable how emotions would be all over the place that night.

However, the Heat aren't nearly as far removed from their previous championship which came in 2006.

"Miami has the advantage of going through it twice," Rivers said.

After they won the franchise's first title in 2006, they proceeded to get blown out on ring night by the Chicago Bulls 108-66. Last season began for the Heat in Dallas on their ring night, with the road team once again finding success as Miami prevailed, 105-94.

Because of those experiences, Rivers said, "they'll be a little more prepared than the average ring team."

Heat players and coaches are well aware of the struggles the home team often has on ring night.

"We want to honor and respect this night in the ceremony, to be able to raise that banner in front of our fans," said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. "It took a tremendous amount of work collectively to accomplish that. We don't want to diminish that."

Spoelstra added: "We don't want to celebrate that and stink up the joint in the most important thing, which is the game."

WATCH: Bruins' Backes battles with Benn right after opening faceoff


WATCH: Bruins' Backes battles with Benn right after opening faceoff

Now THIS is old-time hockey!

There's bad blood between the Bruins' David Backes and the Stars' Jamie Benn that goes back a long way, most recently in last spring's Dallas-St. Louis playoff series when Backes was still with the Blues. They met again today -- and the ungodly (hockey) hour of 11:30 a.m. Dallas time -- for a nationally televised game between Backes' new team, the Bruins, and the Stars.

And it didn't take long for the two to renew acquaintances . . .

Pistons to honor Hamilton, who had impact on several Celtics

Pistons to honor Hamilton, who had impact on several Celtics

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- The Detroit Pistons will retire the jersey number of former UConn star Rip Hamilton tonight, an instrumental figure in the Pistons’ success in the early 2000s that included an NBA title in 2004.
Although Hamilton never played for Boston, his impact can be felt within the Celtics locker room.
Boston’s Amir Johnson spent his first four NBA seasons as a teammate of Hamilton's in Detroit.
In that time, Johnson acknowledges how many of the positive things folks associate with him come from lessons he learned from Hamilton.
“He was so relentless when he ran,” Johnson told CSNNE.com. “I remember working out with him one summer. For him to even get his shot off, he sprints full court, goes back down shooting shots, and he just kept doing this over and over and over again, full court sprinting . . . To see that as a young kid, and at his age, just working hard like that, it was great to see.”
James Young grew up in nearby Rochester Hills, Mich., so he watched Hamilton’s scoring prowess up close and personal.
And as he continued to evolve as a player, Young would see Hamilton during the summer months while attending Hamilton’s basketball camps.
“I was there every year, won MVP a few times,” Young told CSNNE.com. “He’s a great guy, a great player.”
And, like Hamilton, Young has a lanky frame for an NBA player, which was among the many reasons Young acknowledged Hamilton as being one of his first significant basketball influences as a youth.
“For sure,” Young said. “His mid-range game was crazy, great shooter. He was always consistent.”
And that consistency has paid off in the highest honor an NBA franchise can bestow upon a player.
“That’s big time,” Johnson said. “He’s a champion, great father, great baller. To have his jersey retired is an honor. To see the success he had in the league, and to see his jersey retired with the greats, it's definitely an honor. I’m glad I’ll be there to see that. Kudos to him. He’s a hard worker. Had a great career. I had my high school jersey retired, but to get your NBA jersey retired, that’s great.”
Hamilton played 14 seasons in the NBA, nine of which were with the Pistons. A career 17.1 points per game score, he averaged 18.4 with Detroit and was named an Eastern Conference All-Star three times (2006-2008).
Although he is known as one of the greatest mid-range shooters of his era, Hamilton began to expand his range over time. During the 2005-06 season, Hamilton shot 45.8 percent from 3-point range (most of them being corner 3’s), which led the NBA that season.