Erden back with ill mother in Turkey

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Erden back with ill mother in Turkey

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

WASHINGTON Boston Celtics center Semih Erden, who has been hampered by a sore groin injury, has returned to Turkey to be with his mother who is ill.

Justin Zanik, an agent for ASM Sports which represents Erden, told CSNNE.com on Monday night that the 7-foot rookie plans to rejoin the team prior to the C's playing at Golden State on Feb. 22.

"He is in Turkey now, and we are monitoring the situation," Zanik wrote in an email to CSNNE.com. "If all goes well, Semih will rejoin the team over All-Star weekend."

Erden has been among the biggest surprises for the Celtics this season.

Because of an unexpected rash of injuries at the center position, the Celtics have been forced to play him more than anyone anticipated.

"I feel very comfortable," Erden told CSNNE.com earlier this season. "It's nice for me, to play some my first year. That's a big chance, so I want to use it."

To his credit, Erden has risen to the challenge when called upon.

In 36 games this season, the 24-year-old has averaged 4.2 points and 2.9 rebounds per game. He has also started seven games, averaging 6.9 points and 5.1 rebounds.

Maybe more significant than his numbers, has been the respect he has garnered from a team loaded with Hall of Fame players such as Kevin Garnett and Shaquille O'Neal who have gone out of their way at times to praise Erden for his play.

"I speak a language that he understands," O'Neal said. "He's a young guy. I've seen his tape. I was a fan of his; I saw what he can do. It's just a great opportunity for a guy from Turkey to be another great Turkish player, come over here and do well in the NBA."

And as well as Erden has played at times this season, O'Neal is among those convinced he'll be even better with experience.

"I know one thing," O'Neal said. "When he goes back to Turkey next year for the summer games, he's going to be deadly. He's going to be a machine."

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.”