East champ Celtics open training in Newport, RI
Doc Rivers doesn’t want the Boston Celtics to think that they
can coast through training camp just because they have loads of
He made that clear with a three-hour practice on the first day
of training camp.
”We’re not going to let the ‘veteran’ thing be an excuse not to
work,” Rivers said after putting the defending Eastern Conference
champions through an extra-long workout in a sweltering gym at
Salve Regina University. ”Experience is great, but we’re not going
to use it as a crutch.”
The Celtics opened a weeklong training camp on Tuesday at this
seaside school nestled among the famous mansions that had been
summer homes to the Vanderbilts and tobacco heiress Doris Duke. But
the luxurious offerings didn’t include air conditioning for the
”Way too warm,” the coach said. ”Felt like the Garden in the
Rivers said the heat wasn’t an attempt to make his players
sweat, the way Red Auerbach was accused of raising the temperature
in the old Boston Garden to make it uncomfortable for opponents.
(Auerbach denied it, pointing out that there was simply no air
conditioning in the building.)
But Rivers said the workout was a good first start for his
players after a long summer away from basketball.
”They’re not in bad shape at all,” he said. ”But they’re not
in Celtics shape. I told them that.”
Countered Kevin Garnett: ”No matter how good of shape you’re
in, you’re never in Doc Rivers shape.”
The Celtics, who won their unprecedented 17th NBA title in 2008,
reached the finals again last season before losing in seven games
to the Los Angeles Lakers. With Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, along
with Rivers himself, all free to walk away, there was talk that the
window had closed on the aging Big Three that had restored the
once-proud franchise to its former glory.
But Pierce, after opting out of his contract, signed an
extension; Allen barely dipped his toe in free agency before
re-signing with Boston, and Rivers, who had considered taking a
break to spend more time with his family, decided to come back for
a run at another title. Them they added Shaquille and Jermaine
O’Neal and Delonte West to an already experienced team.
”They seem like they’ve been here the whole time,” Allen said
after their first practice together. ”Whether you’re 20 years-old
or 30 years-old, it’s important that we’re all thinking with the
Garnett missed the 2009 playoffs, costing the Celtics a chance
to defend their title intact. He said he felt good getting back on
the court without limitations after spending most of the past
season strengthening his knee.
Jermaine O’Neal played with the first team in the first
practice, filling the spot held by Kendrick Perkins, who was
injured during the finals and isn’t expected to be back until
February. Perkins shot free throws and strolled around the
perimeter of the court without an obvious limp, barking out
encouragement to his teammates.
Shaquille O’Neal said he would have no trouble adjusting to his
role with his new team, saying he expected to play 20-25 minutes a
”My game is real limited. I know to look for Garnett; I know to
look for my shooters. I’ve always played with great shooters,” he
”I’ve had an unorthodox, illustrious career,” he said, leaning
back on the bleachers. ”Unorthodox. Illustrious. Two big words in