October 4, 2005
WALTHAM About a week ago, Mark Blount and his agent Mark Bartelstein met with executive director of basketball operations Danny Ainge and coach Doc Rivers . Both sides said it was a positive meeting, clearing the air and strengthening channels of communication after last season. One dividend of the get-together appears to be a more open Blount, one willing to acknowledge how poorly he played last season and the frustration with Ainge and Rivers that ensued.
"I wasn't happy about last year," said Blount. "The goals that I wanted to set for myself weren't reached, just being able to be on the floor. If a guy's not able to do his job, of course, he's not going to be happy. I'm just waiting to see what happens. I want to get back out there and prove to everybody what I can do. I don't think [last year] was very productive. We've got to do a better job of communicating in all areas as a team. The team has to be productive and individuals have to be productive also."
When asked if he was angry about what transpired last season, especially with his minutes declining dramatically by the end, Blount added, "Yeah, you could definitely be upset about it. But I just looked at it and refocused. My agent and I came in [to the practice facility] and talked and got a couple things out [in the open]. And we just went from there. I talked about what I wanted to do and they talked about what they wanted from me. I'm definitely worth every penny [of my six-year, $40 million contract] and I will prove that."
Rivers predicts a new and improved Blount.
"I don't think he had the year that he wanted to have last year, obviously," said Rivers. "I thought he did the right work. I thought he worked as hard as anyone else on our team. Early on, things didn't go the way he would like them to go. That happens. I think it was more of a coincidence that it was the year after the contract. Maybe he put more pressure on himself. Maybe he did not, but I know he can play."
Blount was not the only player in a reflective mood, wishing last season turned out differently. Paul Pierce likened his relationship with Rivers to a marriage with good years and bad years. He plans to take a different approach to this season, being more positive with a young team to lead. He also again addressed offseason trade rumors and questions about his leadership skills.
On trades, he said, "As each and every season ends for me, you think about your situation. My job is like every other job. You try to figure out if this is the best place for you. For me, I think I'm in a great situation because this can give me a lot of experience helping lead a young team. Have I thought about playing on veteran teams? Going elsewhere and winning a championship? Of course, it's crossed my mind. A player in my position, why wouldn't it?"
On leadership, he said, "People mistake what a leader really is. I don't believe there's a leader on a losing team. A couple years ago when we were in the Eastern Conference finals, I was considered a great leader. We struggled the last couple years now [people say], 'Paul's not a leader.' It is what you make it. I know what kind of influence I have on other players. I know what I bring to the table on and off the court. I know the guys listen to me."
Pierce joked that he should do a reality TV-style documentary so people outside his inner circle could know him better.