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Dionte Christmas got a jump on Boston's veterans this summer.For much of the summer, rookies Jared Sullinger, Fab Melo, and Kris Joseph, along with first-year players Dionte Christmas and Jamar Smith have been working out together in Waltham. As training camp nears, veterans have been slowly trickling into the Celtics' practice facility to join in these informal workouts.
But the freshest faces on the team contend that head start gave them a jump in the daily pick-up games.
"The first couple weeks it was just me and the rest of the rookies, but the last couple weeks, guys have been coming in, like [Rajon] Rondo, Jeff [Green], Jason Terry. It's been great," said Christmas. "The rookies had a little edge on those guys because we were in shape and we were working together and learned the plays. So [the veterans] came in and we beat up on them a little bit, but the last couple days, they've been getting us. It's been fun."
Asked if the rookies had indeed been "beating up" on the veterans and dominating those early matchups, Joseph toned down the success.
"You know, 'dominating' is a strong word, but we did win a couple series, and then Rondo came back and stole the show," said Joseph. "But it's been great. We've been competing at a high level every day, and there's not a day where I can leave that gym and say I didn't get better. Every day I get better and that's the best thing about this place, this organization, is that you're going to get better every day and there's no question about it."
The arrival of Terry has been huge for guys like Christmas, who said the veteran immediately started mentoring him.
"He's really taken me under his wing. From the day I met him at the Reebok [event last month], me and him have been hanging out every day," said Christmas. "He's really been taking great care of me and just showing me the ropes. We get in the gym at night, we shoot. Any time he goes somewhere, he might shoot me a text and let me know and we'll go out somewhere. We've been out to eat a couple times. So he's really taken me under his wing and I'm really learning so much from this guy. I've learned so much in the past three weeks than I've learned in years, just from working with Jason Terry. It's really a blessing for him just to have the time that he's taking and looking out for me and showing me the ropes and the ins-and-outs of the NBA and what to do, what not to do and things like that. So, I'm really appreciative of him."
Speaking of that bond between Terry and Christmas...