Blount Trying to Make Good on 6-Year, $42m Contract


WALTHAM - After a physical, tightly contested game, Mark Blount likes to unwind with a gourmet meal and glass of wine. The center can be the picture of refinement away from the FleetCenter, which runs contrary to the lasting image left with opponents. Blount plays a blue-collar game on the court. He likes to do the dirty work inside as the Celtics' defensive anchor. Tough. Disciplined. Defense-oriented. Consistent. Consummately professional. Prepared to play 48 minutes, if need be.

"I just want to be very successful out there on the court in pretty much every aspect of the game," said Blount. "If I think defense first and help my teammates, I'll be successful on the offensive end. I can help my teammates a lot if they get beat off the drive.

   "I think it's good for the young guys to see my approach, especially the big men like [Kendrick] Perkins and Al [Jefferson]. They can see that coach is comfortable with me, that he knows you'll be a pro out there and that he can depend on you every night. I do my best fitness-wise [in the offseason], so if I have to come in and play 40 minutes to help this team win then I'll run for 40 minutes. I just want to keep adding to what I'm doing and get better."

In addition to his many basketball talents, Blount may also be a master of understatement. Doc Rivers has become more than comfortable with Blount. "Dependent upon" might be a better phrase. Rivers knows the kind of effort he will get from Blount, that the veteran center never will let his offense dictate his defense, that the big man always will place team ahead of statistics.

Since Blount signed a six-year deal worth $42 million this summer, he has been the gift that keeps giving for Rivers. First, just re-signing Blount was a coup for Rivers and executive director of basketball operations Danny Ainge.

Then, Rivers saw in person that Blount was more athletic and more skilled than he'd realized from reviewing tape.

Blount averaged 9.5 points per game, a team-high 5.8 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks in 26.9 minutes during the exhibition season. And he shot 45 percent from the floor.

Rivers and Blount expect those numbers to improve once the regular season starts Wednesday night against Philadelphia, though the starting center brings much more than numbers to the Celtics' game plan.

"Mark is just a star to me," said Rivers. "He does his role. He does his job. He does it every day. In a lot of ways, he's like a rock to me. He rebounds. He loves to defend. He can shoot the little elbow jump shots, the little corner jump shots. He still needs to get a little bit better when he gets trapped. A guy like Mark probably hasn't been trapped a whole bunch in his life. So, he struggles a little with that. But the better he gets, the more attention he gets and probably will see some traps."

"I didn't see Mark a lot last year. I saw him this summer on film and it's never the same. He looked great, but I didn't know how good he was. What I didn't know was how good of a defensive player he was. He mucks up the entire paint just by helping on his guy, getting back, clogging up the middle. He's just so active and that's why he's so good. That's why Philly wanted him. It makes us a better defensive team when your anchor is your best defensive player."

Blount takes the greatest pride in playing tough defense. It's a skill and a passion that has gained notice around the league. In addition to Boston, Miami, Memphis, Philadelphia, and Indiana all expressed interest in signing Blount.

"If I just keep doing my job and people are watching me and they believe that I'm giving my team a chance to win, then that's what they believe," said Blount. "I think if we win, then everybody's going to eat well."

And he should know what it's like to feast.


FLCeltsFan said...

Mark Blount. One of the very, very few Celtics that I have actively disliked.

FLCeltsFan said...

Blount and make good should never be used in the same sentence :)

Lex said...

Still vividly remember the doc "freakin' 1 rebound" quote. . .

Follow by Email