Stiemsma, Allen look forward to Milwaukee return

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Stiemsma, Allen look forward to Milwaukee return

The Boston Celtics visit to Milwaukee for Thursdays game against the Bucks will be a homecoming for rookie Greg Stiemsma and a return to where it all began for veteran Ray Allen.

Stiemsma grew up in the small village of Randolph outside of Milwaukee and played college basketball at the University of Wisconsin. As a hoops fan, he watched Allen light up the court for over six years with the Bucks. Now as a member of the Celtics, Stiemsma has spent his first NBA season sitting next to Allen in the locker room.

Growing up in Wisconsin, we kind of ride around our sports teams a little bit, Stiemsma told CSNNE.com. How can you not like a guy like Ray? He plays the game the right way, one of the purest shooters the game has ever seen. Hes a hard guy not to like and look up to, no matter what position you play.

Meeting Ray kind of was surreal at first, Stiemsma continued. But I kind of tried to, not hide those feelings, but I tried to be professional about this whole situation. I was a big fan of KG (Kevin Garnett) and all these guys. Even through college, when I watched the NBA I liked watching these guys play because theyre the best in the business. To be a part of it and to be on the floor with them at the same time, its an honor. But at the same time its my job, too.

Allen appreciates the long road Stiemsma has taken to the NBA. After playing professional basketball overseas, the 26-year-old rookie finally has the opportunity to play in front of a home crowd that has supported him since he was a high school standout, leading his team to three straight Division 4 state titles.

I think just the simple fact that he played overseas and was in that predicament trying to get to the NBA, he doesnt hold a privileged mentality about being here, Allen told CSNNE.com. He has a grateful disposition. Hes happy to be here, so he listens to everything you tell him. You always notice when you tell young guys, sometimes they dont want to listen to you. They have that type of approach or disposition about them that it makes you not want to tell them anything. But Greg is always open and receptive because I guess he does know where he comes from and he wants to stay around.

Stiemsma has become more comfortable with his teammates as the season goes on. Allen has encouraged him to ask questions and reach out to the veterans around him on a daily basis.

The knowledge is invaluable as Stiemsmas role has increased due to the season-ending losses of Jermaine ONeal (wrist) and Chris Wilcox (heart condition). Over the last five contests he is averaging 3.6 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks in 16.6 minutes per game compared to his average of 2.0 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks in 10.7 minutes.

I think it helps the adjustment, getting used to it and being one of the guys, not feeling like an outsider or the rookie or the young guy, said Stiemsma. Theyve all been more than welcoming.

There will be a large crowd of fans cheering for their hometown success story on Thursday in Milwaukee. And there will be another group of supporters on the court as well.

Greg knows the way I give you my information, Im not doing it to make myself sound good, look good, or I want to hear myself talk, said Allen. I want you to do well, be successful, make a lot of money, be around for a long time. He definitely should be around for a long time.

Haggerty: Jacobs may not be beloved, but he's Hall of Fame-worthy

Haggerty: Jacobs may not be beloved, but he's Hall of Fame-worthy

If it was based solely on his 42 years as owner of the Boston Bruins, it might be debatable as to whether Jeremy Jacobs would have been selected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

The Bruins have won one championship and been to a handful of Stanley Cup Finals during Jacobs' long stewardship, of course. They also enjoyed the longest running playoff streak (29 years) in NHL history, though it began before he purchased the franchise. Altogether, the B's have won one Cup, four conference championships, two Presidents' trophies, 15 division championships, and 35 Stanley Cup playoff berths during the Jacobs Era.

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But Jacobs didn't make the Hall of Fame solely on his accomplishments with the Bruins organization. He's being inducted in the "builder” category, which is defined as "coaching, managerial or executive ability, or ability in another significant off-ice role, sportsmanship, character and contributions to his or her organization or organizations and to the game of hockey in general.”  In addition to overseeing the Bruins over the last four-plus decades, he has been a power broker at the league level for just as long.

"I am flattered to be included in with this great group of 2017 inductees, and I am humbled to be included with the legends of hockey that went before me,” said Jacobs. "Owning the Boston Bruins for 42 years has been one of the most rewarding honors of my life. I am indebted to our team's leaders and players, but most of all, to our fans, for giving me a broad and deeply appreciative perspective of the game."

The 2011 Stanley Cup victory was the overriding on-ice moment in his stewardship of the team, and the Jacobs family has had a major, altruistic impact in Boston. No one should overlook the Boston Bruins Foundation, which has touched so many lives with the $28 million that's been awarded to those in need since its inception in 1993.

Unfortunately, Jacobs will always have a reputation with a large portion of the Bruins fan base that his ownership wasn't willing to spend enough for truly competitive teams. At times he was viewed as an absentee owner living in Buffalo, overseeing the team from afar while Harry Sinden ran the operation. Those fans hold that grudge even today, despite the Bruins consistently spending to the salary cap ceiling while fielding competitive teams. They view Monday's Hall of Fame announcement as something akin to Montgomery Burns being inducted into the Springfield Hall of Fame.

Cam Neely disagrees.

"As a player, I knew of Mr. Jacobs' passion for the Bruins,” said Neely, who has served as Bruins president for nearly a decade after a Hall of Fame playing career highlighted by his years in Boston. "Over the past decade while in the front office, I have seen firsthand his dedication to winning, by consistently providing the Bruins the resources that we need to compete for Stanley Cup Championships and also his unmatched commitment to growing the game of hockey."

That commitment to hockey is a key factor in Jacobs' Hall of Fame selection.

Jacobs was unanimously voted in as chairman of the NHL Board of Governors in 2007, and he's been a major driving force in each of the last couple of oft-contentious CBA negotiations. While Jacobs clearly had a hand in the cancellation of the entire 2004-05 season due to a labor dispute, and in the lockout-shortened season of 2013, those CBA negotiations ultimately led to the imposition of a salary cap and a pathway for small-market NHL teams to survive as the cost of doing hockey business continues to go up.

Without Jacobs as an often hawkish, hard-line owner, there's a chance that a team like the Western Conference champion Nashville Predators might not have been able to survive in the NHL, and it's highly doubtful they'd be able to be as competitive as they are now if teams like Toronto, New York and Chicago could outspend everybody else. So there's no denying the seismic impact that Jacobs made at the league-wide level with his leadership and commitment to growing the game, and that the NHL is better off for the battles waged in collective bargaining while he's been in a position of power.

If you polled every single Bruins fan on the street, it's unlikely he'd be a populist choice for the Hall of Fame. The lean budgetary years durinhg the playing days of Neely, Ray Bourque and others will always be part of the Spoked B history. Some will hold those grudges forever, which is part of makes us who we are as a fan base.

But faithful, rabid fans continue to stream into TD Garden, continue to spend money to support their favorite hockey team, and continue to provide the kind of support that's led to a 338-game home sellout streak. It's a sign Jacobs and Bruins ownership continue to do things very right, even if we shouldn't be scheduling any popularity contests anytime soon.

O'Connor: If C's get George, would Griffin be a better fit than Hayward?

O'Connor: If C's get George, would Griffin be a better fit than Hayward?

The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor discusses the potential decision the Celtics could have in free agency between Gordon Hayward and Blake Griffin. If the Celtics are able to sign Paul George, is Griffin a much better fit?