Jared Sullinger suspended for opener

Updated: October 29, 2013, 4:51 PM ET
By Chris Forsberg | ESPNBoston.com

WALTHAM, Mass. -- Boston Celtics second-year forward/center Jared Sullinger said Tuesday that he understands why the team elected to suspend him for the first game of the season despite having domestic violence charges dismissed against him in court Monday.

Sullinger will stay home as his teammates travel to Toronto to open the 2013-14 season against the Raptors on Wednesday. Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said in a statement that Sullinger "failed to meet the high expectations we have for all Celtics employees."

Jared Sullinger
Steve Babineau/Getty ImagesJared Sullinger appeared in 45 games as a rookie before suffering a season-ending back injury last January.

Said Sullinger: "Honestly, we're trying to build a culture around here. And so I totally accept that one-game suspension."

After the Celtics' afternoon session at HealthPoint, Ainge elaborated on Sullinger's suspension. 

"We have higher expectations and standards, and it was a distraction to our team during an important time this summer," Ainge said. Later he added, "We're trying to send a message, not just to Jared, but the rest of our players that their behavior has an effect on all of us."

Both Ainge and first-year coach Brad Stevens have stressed a desire to install that culture in a young team. Team brass huddled Monday after the charges were dismissed to determine Sullinger's in-house punishment.

Asked if Sullinger's one-game suspension was sending a message to his squad, Stevens said, "I don't know necessarily about making a statement, it was just about what we felt was the right thing to do in this situation."

Sullinger said he's eager to move forward with the legal process behind him.

"[The charges being dismissed] was a relief, now I can focus back on basketball and get back to the swing of things," Sullinger said. "It is what it is. Now I can put it [behind] me."

Later, he added: "It really didn't affect me, honestly, because when I come out [to practice] I really don't think about much. But when I go back home, I remember the court date and what I have to go through and all that stuff. It was a very good learning lesson and now I can move forward from it."

And what lesson did he learn?

"Just discipline, honestly," he said. "And just understanding that what I do doesn't only affect me, but affects so many other things. I just have to understand that in the long run."

Sullinger faced charges of assault and battery, destruction of property and witness intimidation in connection with an Aug. 31 confrontation with his girlfriend. The woman accused Sullinger of pinning her to a bed and the floor at his Waltham home. On Sept. 3, Sullinger pleaded not guilty to the charges and was released on $5,000 bail.

The case was dismissed Monday after his former girlfriend refused to testify against him and asked again that charges be dropped.

Asked if he did anything wrong, Sullinger said, "Honestly, it was just a couple mistakes by young people and it won't happen again."

Chris Forsberg

Celtics reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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