Mike James isn't the type to bristle, but he came close when asked about recent high-scoring performances. He scored 38 points against Philadelphia Wednesday and 36 against Seattle Sunday, but he gets a little agitated when reporters treat his recent productivity as a once-in-a-career accomplishment.
"Why do people ask me the questions that they ask me?" said James. "They ask, 'Are you surprised?' What do you mean am I surprised? I've been doing this [for a while]. It's just a matter of getting the opportunity. I've always been productive in my minutes. It's just that when you have All-Stars on your team, you have to take a back seat to that and understand that there's nothing wrong with being a third option or a fourth option. I'm still a third option, but it's just that whenever you get the opportunity to take advantage of it, you make plays.
"My peers probably know what I'm capable of doing. It's probably been the market. Nowadays, I believe in my heart, it's all about hype. Hype is what maintains people in this game today. It's not about your heart and what you bring to the game. It's basically how many sales you can make, how many times your name was written in Slam Magazine. I can't give you hype. I didn't come into this game with hype. The only thing I can give you is my heart."
Since being traded from Boston to Detroit, James has given a few teams his heart, including the Pistons, Rockets, and now the Raptors. He entered last night's game against the Celtics averaging 18 points and 4.1 assists in 31.5 minutes. James said teams often don't recognize what he added until after he leaves. That is as much a result of his character as his game. James will be a free agent after the season.
"I'm just playing the game, taking advantage of opportunities," said James, who began his NBA career in 2001, signing with Miami as an undrafted free agent. "I'm just playing in the offense. If the shot is there, I just believe it's going to go in. I'm just playing aggressive. I'm basically doing what I always did, but because you all were so blind and you always focused on everyone else you never saw it."
Getting out the vote
All-Star balloting has begun just three weeks into the season. Ricky Davis is on the ballot, one of 24 candidates among Eastern Conference guards, competing against the likes of Vince Carter and Allen Iverson. Paul Pierce is one of 24 forwards. And Raef LaFrentz is one of 12 centers, going up against big men such as Shaquille O'Neal and Ben Wallace. Pierce doesn't expect fans to vote him onto the Eastern Conference team as a starter, but he hopes to be added to the team by the coaches. "It may be too early, but I think the NBA kind of already knows who their All-Stars are going to be," said Pierce. "You have your guys that get voted in pretty much every year. The Allen Iversons, the Vince Carters, the Shaqs. You can pencil those guys in, regardless of what kind of year they have. Then, you have guys if they weren't on the ballot that would get voted in too, like your Dwyane Wades, your Jason Kidds. But I do think it's premature because you don't know what kind of year certain individuals are going to have. Maybe they should wait at least 20 games in. That's the NBA. I have no control over it. It's a popularity contest."
Coach Doc Rivers believes Pierce is All-Star worthy, though he didn't know who the Celtics captain was competing against for a spot on the team. Meanwhile, Davis was honored simply to be on the ballot, though an All-Star nod would be something special.
"It would be wonderful [to participate], probably the best accomplishment ever," said Davis. "It's something every guy strives for in the NBA.
Fans can cast their vote at all homes games through Jan. 22 or by logging on to Celtics.com.
Toronto's Eric Williams on his involvement in a clothing line featuring teams from the Black League Basketball, a league that does not exist. "[The BLB] sent me a sample of a jacket and it was in a locker. The reporters up there [in Toronto] jumped on it. I said, 'That's a new clothing line I'm interested in.' After that, it just took off on a mind of its own." ... Rivers on the anticipated return of Tony Allen, who might practice Wednesday: "The one thing you have to worry about with Tony is coming back early," said Rivers. "That's what [trainer] Eddie [Lacerte] and those guys will be watching." Rivers has not discussed the possibility of a rehabilitation stint in Florida with Allen. Allen sprinted and tested his surgically-repaired right knee with some lateral movement before last night's game ... Pierce was not feeling 100 percent, suffering from a cold that left him with a slight cough and congestion. He joked about making the illness a bigger deal, so his performance against the Raptors would seem heroic. But he also said, "I think I've been sick a few times before in eight years."