Pigskin to parquet, Celtics influenced by football


Pigskin to parquet, Celtics influenced by football

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

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

Smart yet to be ruled out of Celtics’ opener


Smart yet to be ruled out of Celtics’ opener

WALTHAM, Mass. – Marcus Smart remains out with a left ankle sprain injury sustained earlier this week, but has yet to be ruled out for the season opener against Brooklyn next week.

An MRI came back negative on Smart’s ankle, which was good news.

But there’s still a high level of uncertainty as to whether Smart will heal in time for the team’s opener at home against Brooklyn on Wednesday night.

He sprained the left ankle in the second quarter of a 121-96 loss to the New York Knicks on Wednesday when he stepped on the foot of Knicks guard Justin Holiday.

Smart fell to the floor and was helped to his feet by teammates Avery Bradley and Isaiah Thomas in addition to the team’s head trainer Ed Lacerte.

The Celtics are indeed hopeful he will heal in time to play next week, but league sources indicate it’s doubtful due to the nature of the injury and Smart’s history with left ankle sprains.

He sustained one in his rookie season and it kept him out for several weeks and he has had a few minor ankle sprains since then.

Even if he shows signs of being healthy enough to play prior to the opener, the Celtics are likely to be overly cautious to best insure that when he does return he does not re-aggravate the ankle.

Smart appeared in all seven preseason games for the Celtics this season, averaging 8.1 points, 2.7 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.6 steals per game. Smart shot 42 percent from the field, but struggled mightily from 3-point range while connecting on just 13.6 percent of his 3-point shot attempts.

If Smart is unable to play in the opener or potentially longer, look for the Celtics to lean heavily on Terry Rozier who has been the breakout performer for Boston in the summer and in camp.

“I’m just trying to do whatever they need me to do, to help us win games,” Rozier told CSNNE.com. “I’m feeling good, real good about where my game’s at now. Obviously we’re a better team in every way, with Marcus out there. But if he’s not ready to go, the next man up has to get the job done. If that’s me, it’s me. I’ll be ready.”








Ainge admits tough decision ahead between Young and Hunter for final roster spot


Ainge admits tough decision ahead between Young and Hunter for final roster spot

WALTHAM, Mass. – With the Celtics waiving Ben Bentil on Friday, Danny Ainge confirmed what has been reported for weeks: the final roster spot for the Celtics will come down to James Young and R.J. Hunter.

“It’ll probably go down to the wire, down to Monday,” said Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations.

Boston currently has 16 players in camp with guaranteed contracts. The league-maximum of 15 players has to be met by Monday at 5 p.m.

“We’re continuing to evaluate and look for opportunities out there,” Ainge said. “If there are any deals to be had which we’ve been looking for, for a few months. Both of those guys [Hunter and Young[ have played very well and have made the decision very difficult.”

Having to make a tough call at the end of training camp is nothing new to Ainge.

But this time around is very unique.

It’s highly unusual for a team to have to waive a former first-round pick that they selected.

Young was the 17th overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft by Boston, while Hunter was selected by the Celtics with the 28th overall pick in the 2015 draft.

“Sometimes the decision is made for me. It’s really easy,” said Ainge. “But this year it hasn’t been that way. Both of those guys have had some outstanding moments in practice, in training camp and in games. So it’s been challenging.”

Boston being in this roster conundrum is due to having lots of draft picks in recent years that either didn’t turn into impact players initially, or were unable to be flipped for more established talent via trade.

In Young’s draft class, Boston selected him with the 17th pick after picking Marcus Smart with the sixth overall pick.

And in 2015, Boston picked Terry Rozier with the 16th overall pick and Hunter with the 28th overall selection. In the second round of that draft, Boston nabbed Jordan Mickey with the 33rd overall pick and Marcus Thornton at No. 45.

Last year’s draft was an even bigger haul for the Celtics, who went into the draft with a record-eight picks.

They traded two of the picks to Memphis, but used the other six which included Jaylen Brown with the third overall selection.

Ainge reiterated that the Celtics like what both players are doing, but doesn’t anticipate a trade scenario presenting itself that would result in both players sticking with the team.

“Unlikely, but always possible,” said Ainge when asked if it were possible for both to remain Celtics.

Both players are still on their rookie contracts, so that along with the increased salary cap teams have now makes each of them a low-risk addition.

However, most of the teams in the NBA have a full roster and the ones that don’t have a couple players in mind to fill out whatever openings exist.

That means there’s a decent chance that Hunter or Young will be waived, clear waivers and can then sign with a team of their choosing.

It sounds good, only if there’s a team to sign with which as stated earlier, is far from a given.