Friday, March 11, 2011
Celtics no stranger to postgame reps
By Chris Forsberg ESPNBoston.com
PHILADELPHIA -- There's a sign-in sheet near the entrance of the Boston Celtics' practice facility, and more often than you'd imagine, coach Doc Rivers will arrive the morning after a game to find Ray Allen's or Paul Pierce's name scribbled at the top with a timestamp past midnight.
Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant drew national attention Thursday when he returned to the court at American Airlines Arena in Miami and worked on his shooting for nearly 90 minutes after a loss to the Heat.
Some decried Bryant, calling him an attention hog for the stunt (Bryant even addressed reporters following the session), while others -- like Rivers -- celebrated the act for the positive message it sent to kids about honing your craft.
Paul Pierce went 0-for-2 from the arc Friday against the 76ers. If he had been home, he might have went to practice after the game.
But Rivers also stressed that it's not quite the rare occurrence it's being made out to be, pointing out that it typically occurs under the cloak of late-night darkness.
"I know there's been many times when, after games, I hear in the morning that guys went straight to Waltham to shoot," Rivers said, referring to the team's practice facility in suburban Boston. "It happens more than you think. Guys are professional, this is their freakin' job. Guys take a lot of pride. Especially when you're a great shooter and the ball doesn't go in. You can't go to a gym quick enough to see the ball go in again. You gotta remind yourself sometimes, that I can freakin' shoot. That was a fluke.
"But what I'm always blown away by is that it's always the great shooters that do it. It's never the [poor] shooters. What's always blown my mind is that it should be the absolute reverse. But it's why Kobe's Kobe, Ray's Ray, and Paul's Paul. They work on their craft. They believe that the way you sharpen your tool is to work on it."
On the heels of an 89-86 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday night, a few Celtics might have wanted to hit the floor at the Wells Fargo Center to get up some shots of their own. Ray Allen didn't score until the fourth quarter, missing nine of the 11 shots he put up overall.
Allen has often admitted there are nights when he considers going to Waltham to iron out the kinks. He said on Friday he couldn't actually remember his last late-night run for the ball rack, but he knows exactly what Bryant was feeling.
"I saw the garbage bags [in the stands] and figured he must've gone back out to shoot," Allen said when asked if he saw the footage. "There have been plenty of nights when I've felt that way. Like, 'There's nowhere I can go right now besides back on the floor to get this bad feeling out, get it out of my mind.'"
Allen admits he can't recall a situation where he's gone and shot on the road and, in fact, he said he's more likely in his advanced age to just try to move on from the night. But sometimes you just need to see the ball go in the basket again.
Glen Davis admitted he's made the trek into Waltham at times to work on free throws or something else that prevented him from getting shut-eye. And when Celtics players trek through the weight room to get to the floor, there's a message written in bold on the wall that reads, "What hurts more, the pain of hard work or the pain of regret?"
It's a friendly reminder that nothing good comes without a little extra effort. After his postgame shooting session, Bryant told reporters that he didn't mind giving up a night on South Beach if it helped the Lakers in their quest for a three-peat.
"It will be much more enjoyable coming back to Miami in the summertime if we win another [championship]," Bryant said.
Rivers marveled at the fact that it's often the superstars who are most eager to get right back on the court. Maybe that's why they're superstars.
"It's always the great ones," said Rivers. "When you think about it, the other guys are at South Beach and Kobe's out on the floor. That amazes me, but that was really cool to see."
Pierce, the Eastern Conference player of the week, is often one of the first players of the court before the Celtics' practice. Allen is notorious for getting to the arena hours early on game days to go through his warmup routine.
While Rivers said he's all for his players trekking in for some late-night shooting, that doesn't necessarily mean he'd have been OK if Bryant started taking some extra jumpers on the Garden floor when the Lakers visited last month.
Particularly not for an hour and a half.
"Turn the lights out," Rivers joked. "No doubt about it. The lights have to go out."
Chris Forsberg covers the Celtics for ESPNBoston.com.