Things are going really well here in Boston. It always takes time when you’re going through a transition, but the fans here in Boston have been amazing towards me. Since the day I got here, they’ve embraced me. They’re definitely at the top of the NBA fan base from a knowledge standpoint. They know more about the game than most people would know. I’m glad they’ve stuck with us, and every game is still packed. It’s made for an unbelievable experience, and I’m really grateful to all the fans for the support.
Lately, I’ve been thrust into kind of a dual role with the team while we work Rajon Rondo back into the lineup, but the process has been going really well for me.
I’ve never lost any type of confidence in myself since getting traded, or really, at anytime throughout the season. I know what I’m capable of. I just have continue to work on my craft, and that’s something I do daily. So I expected those good games to come sooner rather than later, and finally, they did.
When you start making shots and playing well, everything else just falls into place. It works itself out. You get in a rhythm, and know the ball is going to go in. It definitely feels great. I think anybody who’s played basketball can relate to that. Sooner or later, you get into a position where you get hot.
As he works his way back, Rondo isn’t playing both games of back-to-backs this season. On those nights that he’s not in the lineup, I’m playing more point, handling the ball the majority of the time. When that’s the case, it’s my duty is to facilitate for my teammates. I have to be the quarterback out there and call the plays, get everybody where they’re supposed to go and kind of run the whole show.
When Rondo is in the lineup, obviously, he’s at the point, and I’m playing off the ball in more of a scoring role, which he facilitates. In that role, I’m more like a receiver, and Rondo’s the quarterback.
I wasn’t here when Pierce, Garnett and Allen were, but it seems like transitioning to being the team leader has come pretty naturally for Rondo. I think he has been preparing for it for a long time, and it shows. He’s a great leader. He’s able to lead vocally and through his actions. When there’s something that needs to be said, he’ll say it, and he leads by example every day. He’s one of the first to the gym and one of the last to leave. He definitely surpassed anything I would have thought.
It’s been great not only getting to play with Rondo, but getting to know him. He is a very smart person, and a lot of the stuff that’s out there about him being tough to deal with is the farthest thing from the truth. He’s great with teammates and with our coach, Brad Stevens. I’ve I’ve had a great time being able to get to know him in the last couple months, and hopefully, we can grow as teammates for a long time.
UNITY AND OPPORTUNITY
This is one of the closest teams I’ve been on. Everybody gets along and enjoys each other’s company. Brad is very team-oriented, and he really stresses being together. A lot of coaches are like that, but with him, it’s about being connected to everybody and being together at all times. With him stressing that so much, it really resonates with us. He’s done a wonderful job of teaching in that respect, and it’s been great for us.
Brad had so much success on the college level, and I think that really has translated into the NBA. In the past, the transition from college to the NBA hasn’t worked out for coaches, but Brad’s attitude and the way he goes about things definitely gives his players a certain amount of confidence. Obviously, it’s a totally different ballgame, but the fundamentals he preaches and his approach to what he believes in, it definitely works. I think it shows.
Losing Gerald Wallace hurt the team a lot. Gerald is the veteran influence that kind of keeps everything together, and a lot of the guys looked to him for advice about different game situations. He’s still around the team so we haven’t lost his voice, but him not being out there with some of the younger guys is definitely going to be a loss.
At the same time, a lot of the guys have taken advantage of their opportunities and really stepped up. Avery Bradley is a guy who has kind of been overlooked around the league, but he’s another great scorer, so working with him has been a great experience as well.
Offensively, Jeff Green has been a huge boost for us. Jeff is the ultimate scorer, and he can do it in a variety of different ways. I always knew Jeff could score through playing against him the last couple of years. You could tell from watching him, scouting him and playing him how capable he is. He’s just proven it even more to since he’s been here in Boston. He’s highly motivated and you can tell he is the type of guy who is going to be just as successful in whatever he does after his career is over outside of the game as he is in basketball.
Jared Sullinger is a great player as well, and he helps the team out a lot in ways. I’ve never been around too many other Jareds, so this is a first, but it’s unbelievable some of the things he does rebounding the basketball. He’s not the tallest guy out there, but really knows how to use his body. He’s also a really good post scorer.
Kelly Olynk has stepped up a lot as a rookie. Right now, he’s bringing rebounding and shooting, and he’s been a surprise. I certainly didn’t know he was going as good as he is.
This season has had its peaks and valleys, but as a team we’re just trying continue to grow together and if we do that we should be okay in the long run. It falls back on our defense. Offensively, Brad lets guys play to their strengths without really having to think. On defense, we’ve really buckled down of late and come together. I think we have a good group of guys who really understand what he wants out of us. When we get going in a good rhythm defensively, it helps us offensively. We just have to continue playing well on defense and we’ll be ok.
To all the Boston fans, we know the season hasn’t gone as expected, but I think you can see the growth in the team. We just have to continue down that road, and hopefully, we’re able to make you guys proud.
I recently started an AAU team in Phoenix, and that’s something I’m really looking forward to working on after the season is over.
It’s my way of giving back to the Phoenix community by helping these kids get the exposure they deserve. I’m partnering with Compton Magic, which is a very big program out of LA, rated as the number one AAU program in the country last year. So partnering with them and being able to put these kids on a platform where they’re going to be exposed to hundreds of different colleges and college coaches is something I’m excited to do.
We have the best kids in Phoenix signed up to participate, and we’re just going to have them go out there and show what they’re capable of. I’m really excited to be a part of it, and I think it’s going to be a great experience for them and for me.
They start playing in mid-April and after the season — whenever I can get back to Phoenix — I’m going to be around them all the time. I don’t want to just fund this thing. I want to participate and help them out as much as I can.
My first message to them, and really any young basketball player who is trying to better themselves, get a college scholarship and possibly make a career in the game is just to stay focused. If that’s your dream, then continue to pursue it no matter what.
I think that’s a message that everyone in the younger generation should receive. If there’s anything that you really want to do, that you dream of accomplishing — whether it’s being a basketball player, or a lawyer or whatever you choose to do, — stay focused, no matter what it takes, stay focused and if you want it, you can achieve it.