Rapid reaction: Rookie introduction
June, 27, 2011
BRIGHTON, Mass. -- A trio of tidbits after the Boston Celtics introduced rookies JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore to the community and the media Monday morning at the Edison K-8 School:
The decision on numbers
With 21 numbers retired and seven more tied up by returning veterans (all No. 35 or lower), it's not easy for a rookie to get a particularly desirable digit. But both of Boston's new faces found numbers with meaning.
Johnson, who wore No. 25 at Purdue and still has that digit in his Twitter handle, said he chose No. 12 because of his mother, Rhonda Curlin, who wore that number in high school.
"There wasn't a lot to decide from," Johnson said with a smile. "But, pretty much the reason I picked 12 is because my mom, she used to play with No. 12. I couldn't get 25, so I thought I'd just go with 12."
Mrs. Curlin, in attendance for Monday's ceremony, admitted she and her son share a special bond, talking almost every day even while he was at college, and was honored by his decision. She explained that her school colors were green and white, which aided the decision.
No. 25 is retired in Boston in honor of legendary player/coach K.C. Jones. No. 12 was last worn by Von Wafer, an unrestricted free agent this offseason. Other recent 12's include Marcus Landry, Bill Walker, Allan Ray, Ricky Davis, Bimbo Coles, Chris Herren, Bruce Bowen, and Dominique Wilkens.
Moore, the 55th overall pick in Thursday's draft, chose that same number as a bit of a reminder of the uphill battle he faces as a late second-round selection.
"I chose 55, it's motivation," said Moore. "Growing up, I used to wear 55. I used to like Jason Williams -- White Chocolate -- I used to like the way he passed, so I used to wear 55, too, when I was younger."
No. 55 was most recently worn by last year's second-round pick, Luke Harangody. Previous 55's include Wally Szczerbiak, Dwayne Schintzius, Zan Tabak, Eric Williams, and Acie Earl.
The lockout is a bit of a taboo subject around the NBA with team coaches and executives acknowledging that it's steamrolling towards us, but punting on the chance to say much more than that on it. For incoming rookies, it's even more difficult, as none of the players are under contract and won't be by July 1. Even still, Johnson and Moore said they'd simply soak up all they can before the doors lock on Friday.
"I would say just going around a little bit, get acclimated a little bit to the city, go up to the facilities, get familiar with all that, and take as much in from these guys and what they have to tell us about the system," said Johnson. "Things like that, before we have to potentially go into this lockout."
In a whirlwind week, Johnson admitted he hasn't spent too much time worrying about the lockout.
"I'm not too concerned," said Johnson. "I mean, pretty much, we can only focus on the things we can control, and right now that's working out and continuing to get better as a player. Obviously a lockout's probably going to happen, so, there's not too much we can do about it."
Even with the lockout, Boston players like Ray Allen have expressed an interest in getting the team together in the same gym and the rookies hope they are a part of that.
"Oh yeah, definitely, I'm looking forward to just meeting the guys," said Johnson. "Whenever it happens, I'll definitely be excited just to move on with this stage of my life and meet my new teammates."
The Celtics took the unique approach of introducing the two players in the community while unveiling a new mobile computer lab. Managing partner Steve Pagliuca stressed how both players were four-year college athletes that both received degrees in Organizational Leadership and Supervision.
As part of the Celtics' Shamrock Foundation, the rookies handed out 25 new Celtics-themed MacBook computers to the students before engaging in an internet-aided Celtics trivia contest.
"It's great," said Moore. "Any time you can do anything in the community, for them to see us and for us to meet them. It was definitely exciting on the way here."