Saturday, January 21, 2012
Key(on) to the City
By Greg Payne
AP Photo/Nick WassKeyon Dooling hasn't been on the court since Jan. 11 with a right knee injury.
BOSTON -- Celtics guard Keyon Dooling is still battling a lingering right knee ailment that has kept him out of the last five games, but prior to Friday's home loss to the Phoenix Suns, the veteran guard opened up about his time in Boston so far.
Dooling, currently in his 12th NBA season, has played for six organizations (previous stops with the Clippers, Magic, Heat, Nets and Bucks), but it's only taken a month in green for the C's to jump to the top of his list.
"This is by far the best organization I've ever played for," Dooling said. "They make it fun to come to work every day. They take care of you from the time you walk in the door with that good breakfast, to the time you leave, with that good lunch. And obviously when you get the coaching of Doc Rivers and you've got all the history around this place, and you've got a whole city behind you, a whole state behind you, a whole area behind you, it would be just asinine for somebody not to want to play here."
Dooling was partly responding to an inquiry concerning the notion that high-profile NBA free agents don't see Boston as a desirable destination. But Dooling noted that he hasn't heard that perception of the city around the NBA. While not arriving in Boston via free agency himself (the C's utilized a trade exception to send the draft rights of Albert Miralles to the Milwaukee Bucks in exchange for the veteran combo guard), Dooling has marveled at the reception he and his family have gotten within the community.
"It's been awesome for me. How many free meals have I gotten?" Dooling joked. "Dunkin' Donuts donuts and coffee and all that for free? Are you kidding me? Me and my family have been very, very impressed with the reception that we've gotten everywhere we've gone. As a matter of fact, the people who helped me move are coming to the game [on Friday]. It's just been awesome. People have just been awesome. I don't know if it's because I'm a Celtic or if it's my smile."
In nine games this season, Dooling has averaged 7 points per game on 46.3 percent shooting. While the Celtics are still figuring out the best way to utilize him -- though Rivers has suggested he prefers to utilize Dooling more at shooting guard than running the point -- the same adjustment process hasn't been needed in the locker room, which multiple Celtics confirm is a very close and comfortable atmosphere. Dooling reinforced that notion, acknowledging the closeness of this year's club.
"I think it's just a culture thing. Not only is the organization great, but we've got a great group of guys," Dooling explained. "When you've got guys like Paul [Pierce], Ray [Allen], [Kevin Garnett], I mean, we've just got a perfect, perfect locker room and I think you can be totally who you are every day, and you're not going to be judged for it or anything like that. You can totally be comfortable in your skin and it's just a great locker room to be in."
A self-described journeyman, Dooling, whose contract expires at the end of this season, isn't looking for his stay in Boston to end any time soon. When asked about the uniqueness of the Celtics' organization compared to the rest of the NBA, Dooling's response was almost instantaneous: "I don't ever want to leave it."