Bittersweet homecoming for Wafer

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Bittersweet homecoming for Wafer

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

HOUSTON Von Wafer played with five teams prior to becoming a Boston Celtic this season.

But Houston will always stand out from the others.

And that, maybe more than anything else, makes tonight's game against the Rockets so difficult for Wafer who is out with a right calf injury.

"I can't lie, I had (this) day circled on my calendar," Wafer told CSNNE.com.

Wafer, who hopes to resume practicing with the C's by the end of this month, had his best season as a pro with the Rockets during the 2008-2009 season when he averaged 9.7 points while shooting 44.7 percent from the field and 39 percent on 3s.

Instead of sticking with the Rockets, Wafer soon found himself on a basketball odyssey that has taken him across the globe, and ultimately landed him in Boston.

And while he struggled to fit in initially with his new Celtics teammates, Wafer eventually won them over.

"Just worked hard," he said in explaining how the current C's have come to accept him. "I believe in myself and I think these guys like that. They know I'm not scared of any kind of challenge. I believe they respect that. I guess that's how I earned their respect, not backing down."

It was a similar approach he had during his days with the Rockets after he saw limited action with the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, Denver Nuggets and Portland Trail Blazers.

While things haven't gone exactly how Wafer had planned, he's not complaining.

Those setbacks have only strengthened his faith in his skills as an NBA player, a skill set that first caught the attention of many when he was a member of the Rockets.

"It's going to be very emotional," Wafer said of tonight's game. "I'm going to be happy. Those people loved me, and I loved them back."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn.

Former Celtics teammates praise Garnett's passion and intensity

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Former Celtics teammates praise Garnett's passion and intensity

WALTHAM, Mass. – Like so many players who have spent part of their NBA journey having Kevin Garnett barking in their ear words of encouragement or just telling them to get the hell out his (bleepin’) way, you can count Avery Bradley among those who will miss the man affectionately known as ‘Big Ticket.’

Garnett recently announced his retirement after 21 NBA seasons, leaving behind a legacy that includes an NBA title won with the Boston Celtics in 2008.

Among the current Celtics, Bradley is the only current member of the team who played with Garnett in Boston.

When Bradley got the news about Garnett’s retirement, he said he sat down and wrote Garnett a letter.

“To let him know how much I appreciate him, how special he is to me,” said Bradley who added that his relationship with Garnett was impactful both on and off the court. “Kevin’s just an amazing person.”

Leon Powe, a member of the Celtics’ championship team in 2008 with Garnett, echoed similar praise about his former teammate.

“As a teammate, as a player, KG meant the world to me,” Powe told CSNNE.com. “Intensity … he brought everything you would want to the game, to the practice field, he was just non-stop energy.”

And when you saw it time after time after time with him, pretty soon it became contagious.

“The intensity just motivated every guy on the team, including me,” Powe said. “It made you want to go out and lay it out on the line for him and the team. You see how passionate he is. You see he’s one of the greats. And when you see one of the greats of the NBA going hard like that all the time, you’re like ‘Man, why can’t I do that? It trickled down to me and every young guy on the team.

Powe added, “He brought that every single day, night, morning, it didn’t matter. He brought that intensity. That’s all you could ask for.”

And Garnett’s impact was about more than changing a franchise’s fortunes in terms of wins and losses.

He also proved to be instrumental in helping re-shape the culture into one in which success was once again defined by winning at the highest levels.

“KG has had as big an impact as anybody I’ve been around in an organization,” said Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations. “The thing that stands out the most to me about KG is his team-first mentality. He never wanted it to be about KG, individual success to trump team success. He lived that in his day-to-day practice. That’s something I’ll remember about him.”