By A. Sherrod Blakely
MIAMI Today's Miami-Boston matchup was a game that Carlos Arroyo knew months ago would be a big one around these parts.
But this is not quite the vantage point he expected to be viewing it.
Arroyo signed with the Miami Heat at the start of the season, and spent 42 games as their starting point guard.
Eventually, Arroyo lost his starting job to Mario Chalmers.
From there, Arroyo became a backup to becoming a seldom-used reserve to eventually being kicked to curb and replaced by Mike Bibby.
Boston, in need of added depth at the point guard position, signed the eight-year veteran for the remainder of the season.
You look at this game and the potential impact it can have on the seasons of both teams, there's no way to understate its importance.
For Arroyo, it's more than just a big game.
"Obviously the way things ended for me, wasn't the way I would have liked it to be," Arroyo told CSNNE.com. "But it is what it is. This is a business. You have to move on. But I'd be lying to you if I said this was just another game. It's not."
There's no telling how much, if at all, Arroyo will play today.
In Boston's last seven games, he has logged a total of just 10 minutes which includes four games in which he did not play (coaches decision).
But having him around has given the Celtics a veteran presence at the point guard position in case there's foul trouble or a potential injury to either Rajon Rondo or Delonte West. Rondo has missed 11 games this season because of injuries after missing just 12 games total in his four previous seasons. And West, already assured of playing in fewer games this season than he has previously, has appeared in just 22 games this season.
Arroyo, who grew up in nearby Puerto Rico, played his college basketball at Florida International in Miami. He was among the more popular players on the team, and connected with the Miami fan base instantly.
Business or not, having all that taken away is not easy to accept.
And Arroyo, 31, admits his past experiences allowed him to handle the situation.
"I can take something like this happening better at this point in my career," Arroyo said.
Undrafted out of college in 2001, Arroyo has played for some of the winningest coaches in NBA history.
After a strong performance during the 2004 Olympics, Arroyo was rewarded with a four-year, 16 million contract with the Utah Jazz then coached by legendary Jerry Sloan.
Sloan and Arroyo had a falling out, which eventually led to him being traded to the Detroit Pistons who were then coached by Hall of Famer, Larry Brown.
Arroyo was brought in as a backup to Chauncey Billups.
But once again, Arroyo fell out of favor.
After spending most of the season as Billups' backup, Arroyo did not play (coaches decision) in two of the Pistons' last three games during the 2005 NBA Finals.
But those days, Arroyo says, are in the past now.
His focus at this point in his career is to do whatever he can to win a championship.
"That's really all that I care about right now," Arroyo said. "That's why when things didn't work out in Miami, I was eager to join up with a team like the Boston Celtics."
And while his playing time has been limited, Arroyo said he knew it would probably play out like this before he signed with the C's.
"Yeah, I knew coming into this situation, Delonte West was the backup before I got here," Arroyo said. "All I can do is stay ready and wait for my time, hopefully contribute, make the playoffs and be part of something great."
While his playing time may have been limited thus far, there's no mistaking the respect he has already garnered from this team of veterans.
"We got a consolidator," said Kevin Garnett in describing Arroyo's game. "We got another guy that can be the floor general. Carlos played in this league for a long time, for a lot of head-strong coaches. He brings a sense of leadership, a lot of respect in our locker room for him and we're glad he's here."
So is head coach Doc Rivers who sees Arroyo as another valuable leader, even if he's not playing significant minutes.
"Even though he's not playing, he's definitely helping us with the little things," Rivers said. "Like during time-outs, he's talking to guys, giving them pointers here and there on things that he sees out there. That's always great to see, because it means that he's thinking about team, not "me". You can't have enough guys on your team thinking like that; you really can't."
Still, that doesn't mean Arroyo is content to sit on the bench.
"Oh, I definitely want to play," he said. "I have to keep the train moving and stay ready. It's hard because you want to stay in rhythm playing. I'll contribute to this team any way I can. Of course I want to contribute more. Hopefully I'll get that opportunity soon."
It could be today against his former team that tossed him aside just a few weeks ago to clear a roster spot to sign Mike Bibby.
"You want to win every game you play," Arroyo said. "And they all count the same at the end of the day."
He added with a smile, "but some, you really, really want to get. This is one of those games."