By Jessica Camerato
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 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.
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 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.
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