IF THERE’S ONE THING Sullinger has now, it’s time. Too much time. “I’m bored, people. I’m really, really bored,” he said in his video chat, explaining how he’s kept himself busy post-surgery. Netflix, for one. Video games, too: Call of Duty, Madden, Grand Theft Auto. He is on Twitter all the time (@Jared_Sully0).
His soundtrack features Jay-Z, T.I., and Nicki Minaj, but also poppier fare from Miley Cyrus and Carly Rae Jepsen. (Do Google his hilariously off-key rendition of Cyrus’s “Party in the USA.”) He has gone to games as a spectator, but, immediately after the surgery, had to watch some on TV. “I’m always at home yelling, screaming,” he said in the chat. As of late February, his pain was minimal, he was reasonably mobile — able to walk and drive — and he had not yet begun his rehab work.
Sullinger, adjusting to life away from Ohio for the first time, acknowledges he’s discovered next to nothing about Boston, having focused almost exclusively on his craft. When a fan asks on the chat about his favorite part about the city, his answer — TD Garden — is a bit pathetic, and he knows it. Yes, he admits, he needs to expand his horizons. When I ask him what he does for fun, he says, “I couldn’t tell you.” He does love what he’s seen of Boston, though. “People have open arms around here,” he says.
His father, meanwhile, is adjusting to life as the parent of an NBA rookie, helping where he can but also keeping a respectful distance. On a trip to Boston earlier this season, Satch asked his son if he could come along to a Celtics practice. “Jared said, ‘Oh no!’ ” Satch told The Columbus Dispatch. “He said, ‘There are no other dads there, and I’m not going to be the first one on the team to ask if his dad can come.’ ”
Satch says he has always told his sons to ask themselves what lesson God wants them to learn. For Jared, he says, “I think the lesson he’s learning now is patience and not taking things for granted.” It’s a lesson Satch believes his son will absorb, spurring him to get smarter about taking care of his body.
Before a recent Celtics practice, Pierce says Sullinger has shown the potential to return strong. But when I suggest Sullinger has already made his mark in Boston, Pierce pushes back a little. “In this league, you’ve got to continue to make your mark,” he says. “You don’t just play a few games and then, you know, ‘Celtic for life.’ You’ve always got to prove yourself. You’ve seen a lot of good players come and go. When he comes back he’s just got to make sure he’s in the best health he can be in and continue to make his mark.”
That’s just what Sullinger intends to do. “The way I was raised was to always push through tough times,” he says. “Everybody will always doubt me for who I am—being short, being tall, it doesn’t matter. But at the end of the day, I’ve got to keep pushing. It’s not about what they say. It’s about what I do.”