Heinsohn Listened to Fans During Games

October 7, 2005

WALTHAM Before practice yesterday, none of the current Celtics knew about Larry Siegfried . But after a few stories from Tommy Heinsohn at the end of the workout, the players couldn't stop talking about Siegfried, who played seven seasons (1963-70) in Boston.

Siegfried was a central character in one of Heinsohn's anecdotes about Celtics history.

    During a game Heinsohn was coaching, a fan started shouting, "Put Siegi in, put Siegi in." After first dismissing the notion, Heinsohn thought about it and said to himself, "He's right." Heinsohn called for Siegfried to check into the game. The moral of the story was, Heinsohn said, "You never know where your next best idea is coming from."

The story had the team plus coach Doc Rivers and executive director of basketball operations Danny Ainge laughing.

"What I tried to get over was that you've got to trust each other," said Heinsohn. "If you think you're that good that you can beat 12 guys all by yourself over 82 games, the more power to you. But after a while, you find out, you can't do it with two guys, you can't do it with three guys. Nobody's ever done that [brought back a group of former Celtics]. Red [ Auerbach ] created a feeling of loyalty with the [ Larry ] Bird teams because he would take guys from my generation down to the locker room and he'd make Larry go up and meet the guy, which was a measure of respect. There's a history that they have to live up to, which is both a blessing and a curse."

In an effort to educate today's players about the team's history and instill Celtic pride, Ainge and Rivers have invited a number of Celtics legends to address the team. Among those invited to the training camp are: Heinsohn, Robert Parish , Bill Russell, Bob Cousy , K.C. Jones , JoJo White , and John Havlicek . Rivers has also invited former Celtics to stop by any time, believing their presence will inspire the team.

"They deliver the message differently, but it's the same message," said Rivers. "They all talk about team, humility, the best players being almost more accountable in being leaders. They always talk about how each guy points the finger at himself, never at another teammate."

And what do the players think?

"The last story with Siegfried was the funniest," said Paul Pierce . "It's good that these guys are still able to do that [come in and talk to us] for the young players to see what the tradition is all about. They hear about it, but until you really come here and experience it yourself, you really don't understand."

Loud and clear

Pierce and Ricky Davis have been singled out for their vocal leadership at practice. Before camp, the veterans talked about taking more prominent roles in practice. "It starts with me and P," said Davis. "We can be more vocal and get guys into it, pick them up when they make mistakes and guide them through it. I think that makes stuff a lot smoother, a lot easier. On the court, I'm kind of outspoken, anyway. It's fun teaching the guys, leading them and showing them the right things so they won't make the different mistakes that you made a couple years ago. On this team, I feel like a real veteran." . . . While Rivers continued to compliment Kendrick Perkins , noting, "He has played as well or better than all our big players right now," the coach also commented that Raef LaFrentz played well in practice yesterday. "Raef wasn't great up until today, but today he was the old Raef, which was really nice," said Rivers . . . Jon Niednagel , a.k.a. the Brain Doctor, was at practice and will be with the team through Sunday . . . For NBATV's peek inside training camp, Pierce and Rivers wore microphones throughout practice. "I was just being myself," said Pierce. "At one point, I just forgot I had it on. I thought they might have to delete something." The inside look at the Celtics will air sometime next week on NBATV.

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