The Sherman Douglas Shoe Saga (Part 1)
Sherman Takes a Leave of Absence
December 18, 1992
WALTHAM Celtics guard ShermanDouglas has been granted an undetermined leave of absence but will be paid, according to team officials.
Douglas is expected to miss tonight's game against New York. He announced his intention to leave the team Wednesday morning and did not participate in the Celtics' 114-91 loss at Indiana that night.
However, Douglas accompanied the team to Boston after the game. He did not attend practice yesterday.
"Sherman is having problems with his role on the team," chief executive officer Dave Gavitt said. "They are emotional problems. He is going through things he hasn't gone through before.
"We need to be supportive of him at this time and let him work things out. Being an NBA player is not an easy thing. Like anyone who is playing with a sprained ankle or another problem, he needs help. That help depends on an eval-uation of where he is at."
Gavitt would not say whether Douglas would be receiving psychiatric evaluation.
Douglas, 26, had announced that he would leave the team after he received 20 minutes of playing time during the Celtics' 124-119 double-overtime victory at Minnesota Tuesday. Douglas had removed his shoes while on the bench after halftime.
However, Douglas decided to remain with the team and was counseled by Gavitt, Larry Bird, agent Eric Fleisher, coach Chris Ford and general manager Jan Volk. During the return flight, Celtic players were advised to support Douglas.
Gavitt said Douglas' confidence had been affected. Apparently, lack of playing time had been a factor.
"Our evaluation of Sherman in the Minnesota game was not negative," Gavitt said. "It was negative in his mind, but Sherman is his own worst critic. He is a far harsher critic than the coaching staff.
"He has high standards, and this is the first time in his life that he is struggling to meet them. He has to get his self-confidence back. At this level, he needs it. All players go through slumps in an 82-game season. This one is a little more than that."
Douglas joined the Celtics Jan. 10, when he was acquired from Miami in a trade for Brian Shaw. The team apparently hoped that Douglas would become the starting point guard. However, Douglas sprained an ankle and John Bagley remained the starter through the playoffs.
The Celtics did not offer Bagley a contract for this season, hoping to alleviate pressure on Douglas. However, Douglas lost the starting position after nine games. His replacement, Dee Brown, had only briefly played the position in the NBA.
The Celtics have rallied after having won but two of their first 10 games and now have a 10-12 record. Brown has been the starting point guard, and Douglas has averaged about 16 minutes of playing time.
"We are behind him 100 percent," Brown said. "But I can't tell what is going on inside his head."
Gavitt would not announce a contingency plan. The simplest scenario would be to sign Bagley as a replacement, but it is unlikely Bagley would be willing to rejoin the Celtics under such circumstances.
"It's the NBA and we have to play 82 games," Ford said. "We will be facing all sorts of problems. We'll have to see if this is short-term or long-term and then discuss the ramifications.
"Personally, I'm very concerned. I wish ( Douglas) all the best and hope everything is resolved. We are taking this seriously, and the well-being of ShermanDouglas is most important."
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