Pitino's Sinking Ship a Distant Memory for Fortson

Pitino's Sinking Ship a Distant Memory for Fortson

March 28, 2002

Danny Fortson moved from one ocean to another, leaving the "sinking ship" behind. Though the Warriors hold down last place in the Western Conference, Fortson's career has been on the rise since he left the Celtics (twice, on less than pleasant terms). The first time he was traded to the Raptors and made the infamous sinking ship comment about a Celtics squad with Rick Pitino at the helm. When the trade fell through, he returned for a few more months before a sign-and-trade deal sent the rebounding forward to Golden State.

Fortson played in the FleetCenter last night for the first time as a Warrior. He missed all but six games last season with a stress fracture in his right foot that required surgery. A stress fracture in the same foot forced Fortson to miss the first 25 games of his one season with the Celtics. Now healthy and happy, Fortson ranks third in the league in rebounding with 11.9 per game. He added to the average with 13 rebounds - as well as a team-high 20 points - in last night's 102-99 loss to the Celtics.

    "After sitting around watching for a couple of years, I couldn't ask for anything more than to finally be out there playing," said Fortson. "It didn't work out in Denver and I was disappointed about that, Boston same way. In this business, you can't worry about it. You're a pawn in the game. You play hard, but you're really actually a chip. If you want this chip to go over here, that's where it's going to go. It's as simple as that."

Fortson has drawn compliments from his former Celtics mates for his rebounding ability and the way he uses his 6-foot-8-inch, 260-pound frame to play physical ball. His name often comes up when the Celtics talk about the need to play stronger on the glass. But from what Fortson sees from across the country, the Celtics, under coach Jim O'Brien, are doing just fine.

"The team they've got now is a real good team," said Fortson. "It's actually the same team that was here [when I was here]. They've just turned on the switch. It's the same thing that we've got to do. With Paul Pierce and Antoine Walker, you really don't need too much. You really just need pieces of the puzzle to come in. What can you say, they're winning."

Still, he wasn't happy to come up short against his former teammates.

"It's awful [to lose], especially tonight," said Fortson. I wanted to get this one in the worst way I could." Campaign trail

Detroit coach Rick Carlisle and New Jersey mentor Byron Scott may have the inside track for Coach of the Year honors. But the Celtics are not going to let O'Brien be forgotten when the ballots are cast at the end of the regular season. Just as the players voiced their desire for O'Brien to be hired as coach last year, they now are starting the NBA version of a grassroots campaign. When asked about O'Brien's performance this year, the players back him all the way. And they need to, since O'Brien is not one to promote his own accomplishments.

"When you look at where we've been and how he's turned the organization around, he definitely should be considered," said Pierce. "He doesn't like to talk about it, but he's turned this program around in less than a year's time. He's done a great job in a little time with what he's had up to this point." Honor role

Pierce received the 2002 Home Team Community Service Award from former Celtic Nate "Tiny" Archibald before last night's game. The presentation included a film tribute on the Jumbotron, showing the ways Pierce has volunteered in the Boston area this season . . . The Celtics-Bucks game Sunday has been moved up to noon to accommodate NBC . . . Coaching legend Jack Ramsay will be featured on ESPN Classic's "Vintage NBA" tonight at 7. The show will feature analysis by O'Brien, Ramsay's son-in-law.

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