Erden receives guidance from countryman Turkoglu


Erden receives guidance from countryman Turkoglu

By A. Sherrod Blakely

BOSTON The TD Garden had all but emptied out except for a dozen or so basketball fans, some carrying camera phones along with red flags that had a white Crescent moon with a star in the center.

It is the national flag of Turkey, and those fans waited patiently to see Orlando's Hedo Turkoglu and Boston's Semih Erden, arguably the face (Turkoglu) and future (Erden) of Turkish basketball.

Another one of Turkey's top NBA imports, Utah's Mehmet Okur, will be at the Garden later this week.

So for Erden, this week will be a chance to not only catch up with a couple of teammates from his national team, but also another opportunity to learn from players he grew up idolizing as a youngster.

"We are all very close because of national team," Erden told "We are like family."

And Turkoglu, the first Turkish-born player to play in the NBA, is the undisputed leader of the Turkish migration to the NBA.

It is a role that Turkoglu does not take lightly.

"I'm trying to be a big brother, take care of them and help them out as much as I can," Turkoglu, a former first-round draft pick, told "When we play against each other, we get together. We talk every week, see what's going on. It's a general thing we do all the time. I'm happy about that."

While Erden has been taking classes to improve his English, Turkoglu improved his speaking skills by reading books, magazines and watching television.

"I used to watch the Martin Lawrence show," Turkoglu said. "And then 'Friends,' definitely 'Friends.' One of my favorites all time. Start to get to know, 'Everybody Loves Raymond'; just keep watching different shows, and like I said, the talking really helped me out. The more you talk, the more you speak, the more you learn, using words."

All those tips have helped Erden, but he said the biggest lessons he has learned from Turkoglu involved advice on how to survive in the NBA.

"He knows better than me; he is experienced," Erden said. "He says you have to be focused every time. And one other important thing. You have to be patient. It's not easy. It's not easy for you to play in the NBA because your first year, you have to be a rookie. It's not easy."

Erden began the season as just another big for the Celtics who was looked upon to provide added depth. Injuries, more than anything else, seemed to catapult him up the depth chart. He has even started four games this season, the only C's rookie to do so this season.

Now, he's out of the rotation while fellow rookie Luke Harangody is logging the minutes he used to get.

While there are some who might become frustrated with this unexpected turn of events, Erden said it doesn't bother him because it's something that, in talks with Turkoglu and Okur, didn't catch him by surprise.

"Now I know, they're right. It's not easy being NBA rookie," Erden, who did not play (coaches decision) on Monday, says with a wide grin. "I appreciate them. They're good guys. They are good persons. They help me a lot."

And as Erden walks away, surrounded by fans from Turkey and Turkoglu, he says, "I am patient. I will stay ready to play, always."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn.

Celtics to begin season with Marcus Smart on the shelf

Celtics to begin season with Marcus Smart on the shelf

WALTHAM, Mass. -- The Boston Celtics will be a bit shorthanded for the first few games of the season with Marcus Smart being out with a left ankle sprain injury.
The Celtics were holding out slim hope that it would heal in time for tomorrow’s game against the Brooklyn Nets.
Smart confirmed a report shortly after the injury on October 19 that it would likely be at least a couple weeks before he returned to action.
Following Tuesday’s practice, one in which Smart watched from the sidelines, he gave an update on his ankle injury which occurred in the Celtics’ last preseason game, a 121-96 loss to the New York Knicks.
“A couple weeks, that’s the projection (of a return) they gave me,” Smart said. “They want to make sure we can limit this from happening again.”
Smart said the two-week timetable began from the time of his injury, which means it’s likely that he will miss the Celtics’ first four games of the season.
That’s a much rosier timetable than the left ankle sprain injury Smart suffered as a rookie which kept him sidelined for several weeks afterwards.
“It shouldn’t be too long,” Smart said. “Better safe than sorry.”
His absence will certainly have an impact on a Celtics defense that ranked among the NBA’s best a year ago, and has only gotten stronger with the addition of Al Horford.
But the Celtics have been a "next man up" team for since Stevens has been the head coach. With Smart out, that’s not going to change.
“That’ll be a great opportunity for someone else to step up in his place,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.
Boston guard Isaiah Thomas echoed similar thoughts.
“When somebody’s hurt, the next man has to step up,” Thomas said. “Guys have to take advantage of these opportunities.”
And for Smart, it’ll mean displaying his leadership skills from the sideline.
He’s totally comfortable taking on that role right now.
For his teammates, it might take a little bit of getting used to. Smart has been very loquacious on the Celtics sideline since suffering the injury.
“These last four days, he has been yelling … I told him to shut up a few times,” quipped Isaiah Thomas. “That’s just him, especially when he’s not playing. He’s very vocal.”
Terry Rozier, the likely benefactor in terms of minutes played due to Smart’s injury, agreed.
“He’s been sitting right there in that seat,” said Rozier, adding, “and he hasn’t shut up yet. It’s good; you’re going to need a guy like that who is going to talk to you. It’s like a guy, he says things … it’s like he’s been in the league 10 years. He knows his stuff.”
Smart’s knowledge bank includes understanding that his current injury will probably happen again at some point. The key isn’t dealing with the injury, but how you move forward from it.
“This isn’t my first ankle sprain and I know it won’t be my last,” Smart said. “I just have to let it heal on its own and let your body do what it does.”