Shaq. The Truth and KG. Shrek and Donkey. As the names suggest, Doc Rivers has once again been handed a roster not only with outsized talent, but also with oversized personalities. It’s a challenge Rivers may be uniquely qualified to handle, and one he welcomes.
“We have a lot of personalities,” said Rivers. “There’s no doubt about that. More than we’ve ever had. Having said that I also think this is the most talent we’ve had, as far as a deep bench. You can make the case that we had more talent on the 2008 team because they were younger. Kevin was at the peak of his health. That’s changed a little bit. So we’re hoping that all the guys are as good as their names.”
It’s not as if last year’s Celtics team (Rasheed Wallace) or the team before it (Stephon Marbury) lacked personality. But it can’t be understated that Rivers handled those players, and that he’s back to handle these. On June 17 — the night of Game 7 and the most somber night in recent Celtics memory — it was anything but certain Rivers would be returning.
“I wasn’t sure what I was going to do at that time,” said Rivers. “I knew Rasheed wasn’t coming back because he told me before the game. At that time I was leaning heavily toward not coming back. So, yeah, I actually that was going to be the last time, at that point, that I would see all of these guys together.”
Rivers said he’s watched the tape of that Game 7 over and over, and that it has, actually, gotten easier. He recently watched it with his new coaching staff. He’s back now, with a talented-but-outspoken roster, to give it another run.
He seems to like his chances.
“I lot of the guys on this team, they’ve have had a lot of winning,” said Rivers.”They’re tough. They’re tough guys.”
— Speaking of the team’s personalities, if media day is any indication, this group is going to be fun. Kevin Garnett got into a playful verbal sparring session with Nate Robinson, who was standing some 50 feet away (think loud) on a balcony of the gym the Celtics practice in. It’s obvious to this observer that Robinson feels more comfortable being vocal with his Celtics teammates this year than last year.
Speaking of Robinson, Paul Pierce said that during the team’s recent scrimmages, Robinson and Shaquille O’Neal spent some time discussing potential rap songs they were going to make together.
“I thought we were here to play basketball,” Pierce said jokingly.
Another one of the team’s new (and old) personalities, Delonte West, described the new Celtics locker room.
“If you’re not in there you’re just not in there,” said West. “When KG and Shaq, Paul and Ray interact all together, it’s unreal. It’s a pleasure for me to be around.”
Pierce says that Garnett is the most vocal of the Celtics, despite not talking much to the media.
“I wanna go home, and I’m sitting there for another hour listening to a KG story,” said Pierce.
Given the chance to respond to his reputation as the team talker, Garnett said, “Paul just said that because he doesn’t really have any stories.”