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

Brown taking opportunities with Celtics as they come

Brown taking opportunities with Celtics as they come

BOSTON -- Compared to most high draft picks, Jaylen Brown doesn’t log a ton of minutes for the Boston Celtics.
 
Playing on an experienced team with legit hopes of making a deep playoff run, rookies seeing limited minutes is a given.
 
Knowing playing time will come in a limited supply, Brown understands all too well the importance of taking advantage of every opportunity he gets on the floor.
 
He did just that on Saturday in Boston’s 107-106 win over Philadelphia, and he hopes to do more of the same on Monday when the Celtics take on the Houston Rockets.
 
When you look at Brown’s stat line, nothing about it looks impressive. He played 15 minutes, scored two points with one rebound and one blocked shot.
 
But beyond the stats was the fact that he was on the floor for seven minutes in the fourth quarter in a close back-and-forth game on the road. Rookies on the floor in crunch time is not the norm in the NBA.
 
“It means a lot,” Brown told reporters after Saturday’s win. “I try to be as best I can be for my team; try to put my best foot forward every night out.”
 
And he did just that on Saturday.
 
In the fourth quarter with the Celtics leading 87-83, Brown blocked a Gerald Henderson shot that wound up in the hands of Jae Crowder. Moments later, Jonas Jerebko hit a 3-pointer that gave the Celtics their largest lead of the game, 90-83.
 
And just two minutes prior to the blocked shot, he was out in transition following an Isaiah Thomas steal and threw down a dunk that pushed Boston’s lead to 86-83 with 7:11 to play.
 
Brown acknowledged making the most of those opportunities bodes well for him and the franchise.
 
“It’s great for our team in general; not just for me,” Brown said. “Those plays helped us to pull the game out in the end. So I’m glad we got the win. I think we should have played a little better than we did.”
 
The continued pursuit of self-improvement is a hallmark of what Brown’s focus and desire are at this stage of his pro career. He has talked often about not wanting to be just one of the best in this draft class but also one of the best in the NBA overall.
 
But he’s also learned that to get there takes time and experience developing both physically and mentally. Part of that mental growth entails having the right approach to games.
 
“Usually you try to tell yourself not to mess up,” Brown said. “Now that I’m getting more comfortable, it’s just play basketball, bring energy, things like that; come out and do what you’re supposed to do. A lot of times you try to tell yourself to not mess up and it’s counteractive; just come out and play basketball and have fun.”
 
And by doing so the minutes will come.
 
“You can’t control that. I just have to control what I can control,” Brown said. “I trust coach (Brad Stevens); I trust my coaching staff. I have to come out and in the minutes I get, play my hand as best I can and take advantage of what I do get and impact this team as much as possible.”
 
This season, Brown is averaging 4.8 points, 2.0 rebounds while shooting 41.9 percent from the field.

Sixers' success against C's defense shows Boston still has room to grow

Sixers' success against C's defense shows Boston still has room to grow

Avery Bradley was a member of the NBA’s All-Defensive first team a year ago. And Al Horford has been among the league’s best interior defenders for a number of years.

MORE ON CELTICS-SIXERS

But as talented defensively as they may be, the Celtics are still learning how to play with each other as well as off of one another.

Injuries have slowed down the chemistry developing as quickly as some might expect. Horford missed nine games due to a concussion, and another game due to wife giving birth to their second child, Alia Horford.

And in Boston’s 107-106 win over Philadelphia on Saturday night, defensive chemistry -- not only among Horford and Bradley, but with all of the players -- remains a work in progress for sure.

Boston had a number of defensive issues in the first half which factored in the Sixer shooting 46.1 percent from the field while shooting 9-for-18 from 3-point range.

But the second half was an entirely different story as Boston’s defense picked up his intensity and focus level which would prove to be just enough to beat a scrappy Sixers team.

The Celtics (12-8) are four games over .500 for the first time this season currently have the third-best record in the Eastern Conference behind Cleveland (13-5) and Toronto (14-6). 

And while the players point to a handful of games that they felt they gave away, Avery Bradley reminds all that the success of this team this season has for the most part come with key players out of the mix or limited in some capacity.

“We haven’t played that many games with the full roster,” Bradley told reporters after the win. “We’re still learning how to play with each other.”

Bradley pointed out a moment in Saturday’s victory where a miscommunication between him and Horford led to a defensive miscue.

Boston has had similar mistakes made on offense this season, too.

“We haven’t really been in pick-and-roll that much,” Bradley said. “Every single game we need to improve.”

And that improvement has to continue evolving on the defensive side of things for this team to achieve its goals this season which include being among the last teams standing in the East.

Doing that will likely mean Boston re-establishing itself as a defensive force, something that should come with time and experience playing with each other.

Horford, who signed a four-year, $113 million deal with Boston in the offseason, says it’s an ongoing process for all involved.

“I have to learn to play with our concepts, the guys have to learn to play with me,” Horford told reporters after Saturday’s win. “We just have to make sure we keep playing the right way, be more consistent with that. I feel like we’re getting better but there’s still some work that we need to do.”