Bigger picture: West expresses himself through art


Bigger picture: West expresses himself through art

By JessicaCamerato

Basketball is an escape for Delonte West. From the moment the ball is tipped, the worries of everyday life no longer matter for the next 48 minutes.

But there is plenty for West to think about once the buzzer sounds. These arent things he tries to run away from -- they are emotions he wants to address, ones that arent dealt with on the court.

So he picks up a pencil . . . and draws. As his feelings fill the page, the paper soaks up his emotions.

On the court has always been my escape from dealing with life and reality. I think I use basketball for that, he told Art, I use it as therapy for myself. Just dealing with being bipolar, my life, things like that just allow you to relax and just get away, let your mind just create. Ive had my own coping mechanisms my entire life dealing with that.

Just as West uses his creativity on the court to help the Boston Celtics, he uses art off the court to help himself.

Beth Dunbar handed an English assignment back with two grades on it. The first was for the classwork itself. The second, for the artwork which West had scrawled across the paper.

She gave me a D for the actual assignment, West recalled. Then she put an A next to one of my drawings and told me that she noticed my drawings were getting better and better.

West liked to doodle, as he put it, during class. As a student at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt, Maryland, he often let his mind wander and his thoughts take the form of art. Some drawings were random and others accompanied the assigned poem or story.

It was just natural, he said. Anything where I could show individuality and creativity, I was actually a natural with it. When it came to music, instruments, art, sports. I was able to play the piano a little bit by ear, play the congas. I did poetry slams, all bunch of stuff.

Dunbar, Wests sophomore year English teacher, took an interest in his drawings. She encouraged the student-athlete to continue developing his talent.

I like to see students express themselves the best they can and if it means in an unconventional way at times, then so be it, Dunbar said.

West began carrying a drawing pad with him to his other classes. I was told not to draw on my homework, he laughed. With each sketch, his pieces improved. He cites Dunbars interest in his artwork to have played a major role in his pursuit of his talent. The two still keep in touch 10 years later.

I can definitely say that I would consider Delonte a renaissance man in that he has talents in many different areas, such as the arts and sports, Dunbar said. He is one of the more unique students I have taught, that is for sure.

As West continued to hone his drawing skills in the classroom, he made perfecting his basketball skills top priority. After high school, he went on to play college ball at Saint Josephs University (where he majored in art) and was drafted by the Boston Celtics in 2004.

After seven years in the NBA, he still approaches the game with an artists mentality. To West, the basketball court is like a blank canvas. Being a versatile combo guard, there are several different pictures he can paint in on any given day.

Basketball and drawing are the same thing, he explained. Some days you can go out there with a plan. A guy like myself, being able to do more than one thing well, I can go out there and say, Okay, today Im just going to play defense, and be good at it. Or Ill say, Okay, today Im going to be a spot-up shooter.

And then theres games where you say, Im going to go out there and roll the basketball out there and let the creative juices flow and put a masterpiece together.

The Celtics' president of basketball operations, Danny Ainge, always knew West had an interest in art. When West, who had been traded in 2007 as part of the Ray Allen deal, joined the team for a second time last summer, he was impressed by quality of his work.

Ainge notices Wests artistic traits on the court as well as he plays both point and shooting guard off the Celtics bench.

Hes very creative, Ainge said. Hes a terrific passer, he sees things happening. I think Delonte is a little bit of an artist. I would just like him to sometimes finish his art a little quicker (laughs). Sometimes Id like the brush to move a little faster. But hes a terrific artist. He has great vision on the court and I think he sees a lot of things that a lot of people dont see.

The irony of the player who sees so much on the court is that there is a side to him that many dont see. Underneath the exterior of a feisty guard cloaked in tattoos is an introspective artist who turns inward to cope with a series of obstacles he has faced.

Last July West pled guilty to weapons charges stemming from a September 2009 arrest. His sentence included home detention, probation, and community service. He also served a 10-game suspension at the start of this season.

A string of injuries, though, kept him off the court even longer. West appeared in just 24 regular season games for the Celtics. With time on his hands and lots on his mind, West dealt with his emotions artistically.

I havent really left the house in over two years besides to go to work, he said. Even now that Ive just recently gotten off house arrest, I still dont know what to do. Ive been in such a routine of staying in the house. I use art to pass the time by. You can only watch but so much TV.

West enjoys sculpting with clay -- One thing that really stood out to me was really being able to get hands on, he explained -- and prefers to draw in charcoal. He likes to sit in his backyard to capture the scenery on paper. Those are the happy pictures.

West says his emotions -- good and bad -- are depicted in his drawings, and there were plenty of those during the trying times.

My drawings change with my mood, but at the same time, its a good thing, he said. Youre able to draw what youre feeling. Sometimes some paintings come out dark, but sometimes thats what makes good art.

West plans to take his art a step further this summer with the help of mentor and former Celtic, Tommy Heinsohn. A noted artist himself, Heinsohn has inspired West to continue with his drawings.

Hes always staying on top of me, not letting talent go to waste, said West. Hes been motivational for me. When the season ends, hes supposed to take me down to a studio, show me his work, give me some pointers, so Im looking forward to that.

Heinsohn says West has expressed in interest in attending art school and believes his dedication will help him succeed.

He has a sincere interest, which is the real part that gets people going, Heinsohn said. When they really get interested, thats when they make something happen. Its more than just a potential hobby with him. I think its become serious and I think hes going to pursue it.

He added, If he pursues it like he developed as a basketball player, which requires the discipline to do that, hell do fine.

This past winter West designed a pair of holiday cards that were sent to Celtics ticket holders. On one of them, he sketched a Santa Claus carrying a bag of presents over his shoulder. Inside the sack was the number 18 and the NBA championship trophy.

As the Celtics battle in their pursuit for the title, West hopes to help paint the picture of victory.

Im an artist out here, he said, looking toward the court. I try to create. I think its just a creative gene thats somewhere in my blood.

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter athttp:twitter.comjcameratoNBAShe can bereached at

Young understands work isn't done after claiming Celtics final roster spot

Young understands work isn't done after claiming Celtics final roster spot

WALTHAM, Mass. – For so many years the game of basketball came easy – almost too easy – for James Young.

He stood out on a young Kentucky team that played at the highest levels, delivering the kind of performances as an 18-year-old college freshman that catapulted him into the first round of the NBA draft.

To be so young and already having achieved a childhood dream, to be in the NBA, Young was too young to realize how quickly the dream could become a nightmare if he didn't put in the necessary work.

The past couple of weeks have not been easy for Young, aware that the Celtics were torn as to whether they should keep him around this season or waive him.

They choose the former and instead waived his now-ex teammate R.J. Hunter, on Hunter’s 23rd birthday no less.

One of the first acts Young said he planned to do following Monday's practice was to reach out to Hunter, offer words of encouragement to a player he looked upon as a brother, a brother who is in a state of basketball limbo right now which could have easily been the latest chapter in James Young’s basketball narrative.

And that’s why as happy as Young is to still be donning the Green and White, his work towards proving himself to this team, to this franchise is far from done.

You listen to veterans like Jae Crowder, a second-round pick who has come up the hard way in the NBA, they speak of how Young now takes the game more serious.

Even Young acknowledged that he didn’t take the NBA game and the need to work at staying in the league as serious as he should have initially.

“I wasn’t playing as hard (early on),” Young admitted. “I just was satisfied being where I was, being too comfortable. My confidence was down. I have to change that around.”

Crowder, a straight-no-chaser kind of fellow, said as much when I asked him about the changes he has seen in Young.

“He’s taking stuff a little more serious,” Crowder said. “It’s growing up. He came in as a first-round draft pick and was on the borderline of getting cut. I don’t know what else is going to wake you up.”

That’s part of what made this decision so difficult and on some levels, left players with mixed emotions about the decision.

For those of us who followed this team through training camp, there was no question that Young had the better camp.

But the one thing that was never questioned with Hunter, was his work ethic. He made his share of mistakes and missed more shots than a player with a sharpshooter's reputation should, but you never got a sense it had anything to do with him not working as hard as he needed to.

That was among the more notable issues with Young who came into the league as an 18-year-old. That youth probably worked for him as opposed to Hunter who played three years of college basketball and was expected to be seemingly more NBA-ready.

Even though Hunter’s NBA future is on uncertain ground now, he’s too young and too talented to not get at least one more crack with an NBA team.

And by Boston waiving him, he really does become a low-risk, high-reward prospect that an NBA team might want to take a closer look at with their club. 

And Young remains a Celtic, doing all that he can to climb up the pecking order which now has him as the clear-cut 15th man on the roster.

He might see more minutes than rookie Demetrius Jackson and possibly second-year forward Jordan Mickey, but Young’s future with the Boston Celtics is still on relatively thin ice.

“I told him this morning, this might be the first time he’s earned anything in his life,” said Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations.  “He earned this by his play, day-in and day-out. He was given a lot as a young kid with a lot of promise, a lot of potential. We talked about earlier this summer, he had to come out and win a spot with some good competition and he did. He needs to keep doing what he’s doing.”

More than anything else, Young has been consistent in his effort, overall energy and attention to detail. But it remains to be seen if Young has done all that to just secure a roster spot, or has he truly grown up and figured out what has to be done in order to be an NBA player.

Celtics break ground on new practice facility


Celtics break ground on new practice facility

BRIGHTON, Mass. -- When it comes to finding ways to attract the best talent, colleges and universities often seek to upgrade their training facilities as an enticement to prospective players.
So why should it be any different at the pro level?
The Boston Celtics had a groundbreaking ceremony Monday morning for The Auerbach Center at New Balance Headquarters.
“When you think he was hired in 1966 and they’re still honoring him, it’s very humbling,” said Randy Auerbach, Red’s daughter.
New Balance officials echoed similar sentiments about the legendary Red Auerbach, the architect of arguably the greatest dynasty in professional basketball.
“Red Auerbach was a true entrepreneur whose passion for winning and dedication to the sport of basketball and the Boston Celtics was equally matched with his commitment to people and his local community,” said Jim Davis, Chairman and Owner at New Balance.  “New Balance is extremely proud to join with the Boston Celtics in honoring his professional achievements and personal values through ‘Red’s House’ at our Boston world headquarters.”
Celtics president Rich Gotham cited several benefits to moving the team to a state-of-the-art practice facility closer to Boston.
Among the reasons given was the potential for the practice facility to be a potential enticement for free agents.
“Players spend more time in the practice facility than they do in the arena they play in certainly, and maybe more than they do at home,” Gotham said. “So having a place where they feel comfortable, a place where they want to spend time to improve themselves across the board … it’s all coming together in a pretty big way. The best players know it’s integral to their success that make sure that support is there, that infrastructure is there. So when we’re out talking to a player, we’re going to be talking about this practice facility we’re building. Because we do think it’s an important part of our story.”
Some of the features of the new practice facility will include:
·  Two state-of-the-art parquet floor basketball courts where the team will practice
·  Leading edge audio-visual technology throughout the facility
·  Expanded strength and conditioning, training, and recovery facilities
·  Best-in-class locker rooms and players’ lounge
·  Physical therapy areas including hydrotherapy pools
·  Sports science and nutrition facilities
·  Expanded media work room, press conference and broadcast facilities
·  A flexible hospitality area designed for community relations activities, partner gatherings and other guest events
·  Work space for the team’s coaching and basketball front office staffs
While the facility will have all the bells and whistles you would come to expect in a new facility, Gotham said there will be a balance of sorts struck between that and the franchise’s longstanding history.
“What will be clear is it will be … at that intersection of, which is a strange intersection, of innovation but honoring our tradition,” Gotham said. “This will be a building that’s state-of-the-art, moving forward. But at the same time, I think one of the things we’re lucky to have is this treasure trove of great guys who came before us who left great wisdom and great quotes. You can see a lot of that built in. Coach Stevens is big on having motivational phrases around for the guys to see every single day when they come in for practice. If those come from Red Auerbach and Bill Russell, all the better. You’ll see us incorporating those kind of things.”