Babb looking to fit in wherever he can

Babb looking to fit in wherever he can
October 24, 2013, 11:45 am
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Chris Babb pulled up a stool along the sidelines during Media Day as members of the Boston Celtics trekked around from media station to media station, doing TV interviews, gabbing on the radio, and posing for action shots in front of the cameras. Babb, on the other hand, made small talk with staff members, cracked smiles and looked content as reporters buzzed by him in pursuit of his teammates.
As players finished their to-do's and hurriedly made their way off the court at the Celtics practice facility, he stayed put in his number 52 uniform, waiting, observing, soaking up everything going on around him.
Babb sat on the stool for nearly three hours without doing a single interview.
“I was just taking it all in,” he said. “It was kind of a humbling experience. Last year this time in college, I couldn’t get away from the cameras and reporters. At the time, it was kind of irritating. Now it’s the complete opposite. I felt kind of cool to sit out there and see everybody and how it is.”
Babb was one of four players invited to the Celtics 2013-14 training camp. In a matter of months he went from an NBA hopeful at Iowa State to an undrafted free agent looking to earn a spot in the backcourt of an already-packed roster. The 23-year-old shooting guard came to Boston up for the challenge, even if that meant seeing minimal playing time without any guarantees of making the team.
He knew he would have to prove himself in ways beyond the 30 minutes he played in five preseason games. Babb scored 12 points in just eight minutes during a three-point shooting flurry against the New York Knicks on October 9. Following that head-turning performance, he scored a total of four points in as many games. Still, he has remained positive in practice, in the locker room, and on the bench during training camp.
“I understand my role,” the sharp shooter said. “I really understand the NBA and how you have your elites – the LeBrons, Kobes, Melos – and then you have a bunch of guys that are just good at what they do. I just focus on what I do. I knock down shots when I have open shots, I play defense, and I bring energy. I'm a good teammate. I'm going to ride with it and hope it works out.”
Babb didn’t get to this point in his career by dominating the offense. After moving from Kansas to Texas as a teenager, he played behind a pair of highly touted prospects on his AAU team. He competed two seasons at Penn State and transferred to Iowa State, driven by the confidence head coach Fred Hoiberg instilled in him.
He didn’t have to net 50 points a game, he realized, in order to have a shot in the pros. In fact, Babb never scored more than 20 points in a game last season.
“I didn't really think about playing in the NBA until Coach Hoiberg sat me down in his office on my recruiting visit and he said, ‘I think you have the chance to play with the style that you play and how well you shoot the ball,’” Babb recalled. “When somebody sits you down like that and really shows they care and they believe it, it's hard not to believe it.”
The Celtics have also believed in Babb during training camp. Even if he doesn’t make the regular season team – a longshot for all camp invitees given the state of the roster – he has made a strong impression with his work ethic and outlook. Veteran Keith Bogans has taken Babb under his wing, helping him understand how to be a role player in the NBA. The rest of the Celtics have welcomed him as one of their own as well.
At the C’s final preseason matchup on Wednesday, Babb engaged in conversations with fellow guards Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley, Courtney Lee, and Phil Pressey before the game. During a timeout he rested his hand on Gerald Wallace’s shoulder, not like a timid rookie but someone who felt comfortable as part of the team.
“Chris Babb has been one of the best workers, had one of the best attitudes, and been one of the best teammates in there from day one," head coach Brad Stevens said following Babb’s 12-point showing. "So it's not a shock at all that he went in and did what he did. We have been huge fans of his since he walked in the building."
With the start of the regular season one week away, it remains to be seen how much longer Babb will be on the Celtics roster. He has his sights set on being an NBA player and is open to spending a season in the NBA Development League, knowing that could be a stepping stone to earning a place in the league.
“I'm just kind of waiting to see what happens,” Babb said. “If it doesn't work out here, I think I put on a pretty good show as far as everybody knows what I do. They got a good look at it through this preseason games and in the game I played pretty well. … If (I don’t make an NBA team), I don't have a problem with playing in the D-League for a year.”
Before he left the TD Garden Wednesday night, Babb walked over to each of the Celtics still sitting at their lockers to personally say goodbye for the evening. He’ll see them at practice, he told them, something he hopes to say on a regular basis this season.
“(If I make an NBA team), you’ll see the same how I’ve been playing,” he said. “I think I bring a spark to the team, whether it works out here or wherever I go. I just want to be able to be a positive asset, bring positive energy, a winning attitude, be that role guy who comes to work every day ready to compete, and find some place I fit in.”