Pierce Making himself More Accessible
November 3, 2005
Paul Pierce made himself available to the media before last night's season opener between the Celtics and Knicks. The move was in marked contrast to last season, when the captain hid out in the trainer's room prior to games. The accessibility appeared to signal Pierce's continuing campaign to be a better leader. It also showed Pierce was not experiencing any pregame jitters as he prepared to start his eighth NBA season.
"I know the mind-set you have to have going into the game," said Pierce of playing in the opener. "I know the intensity and I'm ready. I think it's gotten to the point where it's like riding a bike. It's something I'm used to."
Pierce spent Tuesday night tracking future competition, joking that the New Orleans-Sacramento opener "hurt my eyes." But he was flattered when team president Red Auerbach, in town for the game, compared him to John Havlicek and Frank Ramsey.
"It's a great honor," said Pierce. "I wouldn't say that [I'm there] yet. Maybe if I won a championship one day my name would be mentioned with those guys, but I still have a long career left."
Have a seat
As his teammates readied themselves for the game, rookie Gerald Green changed from workout clothes to dress clothes and prepared for what could be a fairly long stint on the inactive list. Green learned first through the media, then his agent, Byron Irving, that he would watch the opener from the bench. Coach Doc Rivers had yet to talk to Green about the decision, though Irving is Rivers's cousin.
When asked if he could learn the NBA game by watching, Green said, "I can try. I've never really done it before. I'm going to have to do the best I can, make the best of it. I'm a little bummed out. I ain't never really sat before in my life. It's a first. But it's a first for everything. I can use it as motivation."
Rivers will discuss the move with Green, but does not want to further overwhelm the 19-year-old. Green figures Rivers has a lot of other players to worry about besides the ones who won't take the floor.
"Of course, he doesn't understand [being inactive]," said Rivers. "He shouldn't. I hope not. You do talk to him, but he's still not going to be happy about it. But that's OK. It's a grown-up world. It's a competition and he will be a good player someday. We're [addressing it] slowly. One thing I've learned with Gerald is you don't overload him. Just think every second there's things that he has to hear."
Moving toward return
Tony Allen sat beside Green on the bench, inactive as a result of right knee surgery Sept. 13. The second-year guard hopes to return by the end of the month. Allen is riding a stationary bike and doing some light jogging. His lateral movement is not where it needs to be, but Allen expects that to come along shortly. He usually finishes workouts with knee pain, but gets massages to treat it. "It's getting better," said Allen. "I've got five more weeks left, but I think I'll be back practicing in four. But if anything changes, I'm going to do the whole five weeks, a little bit of practice, and I'll be cleared [to play]. One thing I've got is confidence in myself if nobody else has confidence in me. So, I'm going to get back and do what I can do." In the meantime, Allen will take pride in adhering to the NBA's new dress code. Last night, he impressed with a blue pinstriped suit. Pierce, who declared himself head of the Celtics' unofficial fashion police, approved the outfit. "Yeah, he can sit on the bench," said Pierce ... In other fashion news, Brian Scalabrine cut his curly red locks to a short buzz. "It's a new season and I've got to start fresh," said Scalabrine. "If I'm making shots, I let it grow. If we're winning, I let it grow." ... Pierce was back to wearing a headband, showing solidarity with Ricky Davis, whom he called his "sergeant general." ... The mayor of Waterbury, Conn., issued a proclamation yesterday congratulating Ryan Gomes as the first Waterbury native to play in the NBA, and wished the rookie good luck.
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