Friday Free Throws: Rondo issues a challenge


Friday Free Throws: Rondo issues a challenge

By Jessica Camerato Follow @JCameratoNBA
Welcome back to Friday Free Throws, a weekly recap of the most interesting news, notes, and information that have not made the headlines. The NBA lockout may be one week underway, but there is still plenty of hoops to talk about.

Think itd be cool to play a game of H-O-R-S-E against Rajon Rondo? One fan will have the chance on July 15, thanks to Rondos fan contest. Last week Rondo announced on his Facebook page, I'm gonna fly a lucky fan to my camp in Louisville to play me in a game of HORSE. Fans then submitted photos to show why they are the ultimate fan. Of those, 20 fans were selected and now Rondo wants help in choosing the winner. Check out the entrants and cast your vote on Fantapper.

Rondo also promoted the contest on Twitter, where he has been giving shoutouts and retweets to his supporters all summer. From a photo of a young fan in a Rondo jersey to a woman who gave her son the middle name Rajon, to a fan who dedicated her 3,000th tweet to him, Rondo has been busy interacting via his account @RajonRondo.

The Truth is Tough
The Truth is, DIME Magazine thinks Paul Pierce is pretty tough. DIME recently ranked their list of the 10 toughest players in the NBA and Pierce came in at number five. Another player who deserves to be on this list for more reasons than one, wrote Sean Sweeney. Firstly, there might be 10 players in the league who have better minds than Pierce. Hes where he is today as arguably one of the two or three best Celtics ever because of his focus and mental fortitude. Thats a longer way of just saying hes really smart.

Other players rounding out the list include (in order from number one to ten) Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Manu Ginobili, Dirk Nowitzki, Pierce, Wesley Matthews, Carl Landry, Grant Hill, Anthony Carter and Udonis Haslem.

Custom Kicks for Kemba
Earlier in the week Kemba Walker signed with Under Armour, becoming the first player from the 2011 draft class to ink a shoe deal. Darren Rovell of CNBC, who first reported the news, caught up with Walker and Under Armour's senior vice-president of sports marketing, Matt Mirchin, about the endorsement. They talked about Walkers decision to sign with Under Armour, the possibility of a signature shoe (Right now, we're going to build custom shoes for Kemba, said Mirchin), and more. Check out the entire interview here.

A Piece of Celtics History for a Good Cause
The Boston Celtics Shamrock Foundation is holding an auction to benefit the Mass Tornado Relief Fund through July 13. Fans can bid on a basketball autographed by 10 Celtics Hall of Famers, including Bill Russell, Larry Bird, Dennis Johnson and Tommy Heinsohn. Fans can also donate five dollars to the relief fund by texting CELTICS to 20222.
Erden to Represent Turkey
Former Celtic Semih Erden was named to the Turkish Basketball Team, which will compete in the European Basketball Championship taking place in Lithuania later this summer. Erden, who was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers in February, will be joined by four other NBA players Omer Asik, Ersan Ilyasova, Hedo Turkoglu and 2011 third overall draft pick Enes Kanter.

Celtics Tweet of the Week
@Kevin Eastman: Success favors people who show the resolve 2 keep coming back from setbacks. Setbacks remind us 2 get set n back at it!

This Week in NBA History
The Boston Celtics signed Rasheed Wallace as a free agent on July 8, 2009. Wallace played one season of his multiyear contract, averaging 9.0 points and 4.1 rebounds in 79 games (13 starts), and was waived by the Celtics in August of 2010. Wallace has never officially announced his retirement, though, and fans buzzed with questions of his possible return during last season.

Birthdays of the Week
We have to go back in the day for this week's Celtics birthday -- Jim Barnett, who played 48 games during the 1966-67 season, turned 67 on July 7. He was the Celtics; first round draft pick (8th overall) in 1966.

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at!JCameratoNBA

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.”