Pigskin to parquet, Celtics influenced by football

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Pigskin to parquet, Celtics influenced by football

By Jessica Camerato
CSNNE.com

The Boston Celtics will spend Super Bowl Sunday afternoon playing against the Orlando Magic. For many of them, football played a major role in their lives growing up. While they chose parquet over pigskin to pursue careers in the NBA, football has impacted their games on the court.

Nate Robinson

Nate Robinson doubled as a point guard and cornerback for the University of Washington basketball and football teams. He followed in the footsteps of his father, Jacque, a tailback who was named MVP of the Orange Bowl and Rose Bowl during his career with the Huskies.

Football is fun. Its a contact sport. Its a different kind of drive than basketball. Its a different kind of feeling, Robinson said to CSNNE.com. Youve got to imagine, we come in here (TD Garden) and we play in front of 15, 20-thousand. You play football, when I was in college, there were 88- 89,000 out there screaming at the top of their lungs. You get to play outside where the elements change the game. Play in the snow, in the rain, in the mud. I get a kick from it.

Theres so much history. You can feel it going down the tunnel, so much history behind the college, the atmosphere. For me it was crazy because my dad played at the same college. I saw a couple of his accolades that were on the wall when he won an Orange Bowl, Rose Bowl, he was in the Senior Bowl. That has an effect on you because it gets you fired up.

I miss everything about it. Going to play against other schools, putting on equipment, helmets, wrist bands, tape. Every time I put it on when I played in college, it made me feel like I was playing Pee-Wee Football all over again for the first time. It was just awesome.

I fulfilled my dream by playing both sports. I was happy with that. I knew I couldnt continue to do football but one of my goals was to play, and I did that. I knew I had a love for basketball and I had to leave football alone.

Glen Davis

Before Glen Davis was taking charges in the NBA, he was taking hits on the football field as a standout at University Laboratory High School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Now a versatile Sixth Man for the Celtics, he wore many hats on the field as well.

Out of this whole team, I was the best football player (laughs), Davis told CSNNE.com. I was an all-around player. I played like eight different positions - tailback, wide receiver, linebacker, fullback, defensive tackle, punt returner. Just a little of everything.

I went to a lot of football camps. It helped me with my footwork. We did lateral drills and youre always cutting in football. Youre always running a pattern.

I played all my life until my junior year of high school. I was a pre-season All-American in high school my junior year. I was an All-American, All-State. I was recruited heavily. I loved both of the sports, but I played basketball more year round.

Taking a charge it like getting hit in football. Both hurt. Now my body is programmed for a lot of things.

Ray Allen

Ray Allen is one of the most finesse players in the NBA. Growing up, though, he got down and dirty as a wide receiver. He encourages other young basketball players to do the same.

It gave me better strength, Allen said to CSNNE.com. You could always see the basketball players that played football because those guys had great strength and balance. Hand-eye coordination is better, too, because catching the ball as a receiver helps in basketball.

There was a kid on the team that we played when I was growing up, theyd beat the stuff out of us, literally. Wed be in the tackle and theyd be punching us underneath while we were in the pile. I remembered that and said, When basketball season comes, Im going to run circles around him. I did, very much so.

I always urge a lot of mothers who are afraid to let their sons who play basketball to play football. They fight it and say, I dont want my boy to get hurt, and I say, Well this is whats going to toughen him up. If you keep him on the outside, hes never going to get tough and hell be somewhat soft if you dont allow him to do this. Let him play football, let him get beat up, let him catch a nose bleed. Thats how he gets stronger so when he gets to basketball, he will be tougher.

Jermaine ONeal

After a growth spurt skyrocketed Jermaine ONeal to nearly seven-feet tall, he decided to focus on basketball at Eau Claire High School (South Carolina). 15 years into his NBA career, he still applies his football skills on the court.

I played quarterback and defensive end, ONeal told CSNNE.com. We basically played the defense and the offense with the same players. If the ball was changed over from offense to defense, we just changed over to a different position. But we werent very good.

I had a crazy growth spurt from 6-4 to 6-11 the summer going into my sophomore year. At the time my high school was one of the best teams in the country in basketball and had just won the state championship my freshman year. My coach told me, If you want a future in basketball, you have to just concentrate on basketball. I wasnt really as tooled then. I didnt even really know how to dunk or anything. I didnt start doing that until my sophomore year. So I went with basketball.

Footwork was the first thing that I noticed from playing football - the footwork drills, the quick chop drills. Those really helped me because I was able to translate that from the field to basketball - the quickness in the feet, the ability to pivot and explode, pivot and get to where you need to be. I also learned hand-eye coordination - being able as a defensive end to clear the guy off you or being able as a quarterback to put the ball on target.

I always joke with guys about it. I was with Toronto and we were in LA practicing at UCLA. I had them go get a football and I can really, really throw a football. I joke all the time like, I can play in the Arena League right now and star in it just because of my ability to throw the ball, see over the line, and get the ball to people.

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.comjcameratonba

With Thomas drawing attention, Stevens turns to Rozier in big moment

With Thomas drawing attention, Stevens turns to Rozier in big moment

BOSTON – Prior to Saturday’s game, Terry Rozier talked to CSNNE.com about the importance of staying ready always, because “you never know when your name or number is going to be called.”

Like when trailing by three points in the fourth quarter with less than 10 seconds to play?

Yes, Rozier was on the floor in that scenario and the second-year guard delivered when his team needed it.

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But Rozier’s fourth quarter heroics which forced overtime against Portland, did not provide that much-needed jolt that Boston needed as the Blazers managed to fend off the Celtics in overtime, 127-123.

For Rozier’s part, he had 15 points on 6-for-13 shooting.

The 15 points scored for Rozier was the most for him since he tallied 16 in a 30-point Celtics win at Orlando on Dec. 7.

But more than the points, the decision by head coach Brad Stevens to draw up a play for him in that moment, a time when most of what Boston does revolves around the shooting of Isaiah Thomas who has been among the top-3 scorers in the fourth quarter most of this season, was surprising to many.

And at that point in the game, Thomas already had 13 fourth-quarter points.

Stevens confirmed after the game that the last shot in the fourth was indeed for Rozier, but Thomas’ presence on the floor was important to its execution.

“He (Thomas) also draws a lot of attention,” Stevens said. “So I think you just weigh kind of … what kind of shot you’re going to get, depending on who it is.”

Rozier had initially screened for Thomas, and Thomas came back and screened for him.

“I was open as soon as I caught … and I let it fly,” Rozier said. “Coach drew up a play for me and it felt good to see the ball go in.”

Being on the floor at that time, win or lose, was a victory of sorts for Rozier.

He has seen first-hand how quickly the tide can change in the NBA for a young player.

After a strong summer league showing and a solid training camp, Rozier had earned himself a firm spot in the team’s regular rotation.

But a series of not-so-great games coupled with Gerald Green’s breakout night on Christmas Day, led to his playing time since then becoming more sporadic.

Rozier, in an interview with CSNNE.com, acknowledged it hasn’t been easy going from playing regular minutes to not being sure how much court time, if any, he would receive.

But he says the veterans on the team have been good about keeping his spirits up, and one in particular – Avery Bradley – has been especially helpful.

Like Rozier, Bradley’s first couple of years saw his playing time go from non-existent to inconsistent. But Bradley stayed the course and listened to the team’s veterans who continued to tell him that his hard work would pay off sooner or later.

Those same words of wisdom Bradley received in his early days, he passes on to Rozier.

“It’s big,” Rozier told CSNNE.com. “He (Bradley) tells me things like that. I felt I was ready for this (inconsistent minutes) after all that he told me. It’s big to have a guy like him that has been through it all with a championship team, been around this organization for a while; have him talk to you is big. It’s always good. That’s why I stay positive, and be ready.”

Which is part of the reason why Stevens didn’t hesitate to call up a play for the second-year guard despite him being a 33.3 percent shooter from 3-point range this season – that ranks eighth on this team, mind you.

“He’s a really good shooter,” Stevens said of Rozier. “I think with more opportunity that will show itself true, but he made some big ones in the fourth quarter. We went to him a few different times out of time-outs, and felt good about him making that one.”

And to know that Stevens will turn to him not just to spell Thomas or one of the team’s other guards, but to actually make a game-altering play in the final seconds … that’s major.

“It helps tremendously,” said Rozier who added that his confidence is through “the roof. It makes me want to do everything. You know defense, all of that. It’s great, especially to have a guy like Brad trust you."