As noted yesterday, I had the privilege of attending Celtics media day yesterday and was able to attain a few one on one interviews with various Celtics players, staff and personalities. Throughout the upcoming days Celtics Hub will bring you these exclusive interviews to go along with our coverage of the team as it enters training camp.
It was only about a half hour into media day when I spotted the one and only Tommy Heinsohn at the top of a stairwell above the court, towering over the days’ fesitivies as he greeted players below him. Seeing how this was my first media day, I stood in awe for a bit upon seeing the Celtics legend interact with the current C’s.
First, a quick sidebar on Heinsohn. Like most younger Celtics fans, I have known Tommy growing up primarily as a color commenator for the team, well past his days as a championship player and coach. There is a divided camp out there on Tommy as a analyst for the team’s games, as at times his over the top homerism and bias towards the team tends to turn some people off.
I, for one, am firmly entrenched in the pro Heinsohn camp in this department. In a day and age where it seems there are far too many vanilla analysts out there, Tommy’s perspective and candor is always welcomed on my television, even when he goes a little over the top. That’s just Tommy being Tommy.
Heinsohn and his terrific play by play partner Mike Gorman made watching the C’s tolerable throughout the lost years of the Pitino era as well as during the tumultuous years of the Ainge era pre-KG trade. Despite the lackluster talent on those squads, the energy and knowledge Heinsohn brought to those broadcasts touting the potential of an Al Jefferson, the grittiness of Ryan Gomes and exaggerating any kind of promise the team had shown that night made those broadcasts well worth watching for C’s fans everywhere. End of side rant.
In any case, as the thrill of seeing Tommy shook off, I refound my media focused state of mind, and thought “Hey, no one is up there with him…..maybe I can get an interview!” Sure enough, I ran upstairs and Tommy graciously gave me a few minutes of his time to talk about the upcoming season. Heinsohn is 75 years old now. Despite his age though, his basketball knowledge is still as sharp as ever. Onto the questions:
Celtics Hub: What is your take on the teams’ new acquisitions of Rasheed Wallace and Marquis Daniels? What will they add to the Celtics this year?
Heinsohn: I think it’s big, big stuff. I think the addition of Rasheed Wallace is of the importance of the Celtics getting Bill Walton years ago. When you have a guy that potentially comes off the bench whose an all star player like that and still can compete for a long time, that puts you in the driver’s seat.
Daniels is a bonafide scorer and can play a little defense, and slash and get people in trouble. He will be a little replacement for Paul. Last year we were hurting at the big man spot after Garnett and Powe went down so we bolstered that situation quite nicely. Hopefully now, what’s on paper gets translated to really great basketball on the floor.
CH: How do you think Doc will manage The Big Three’s minutes this year? Will we see a lot of thirty minute nights for them or will it be more game by game, seeing how they are feeling?
Heinsohn: There’s no question, if you can get what you want from the bench, so some guys can play in the mid 30’s it’s the best of both possible worlds. With the age of our All Star players right now, you want to make sure they can play their best ball at the end of the season. Also with injury, by giving some of these younger players an opportunity, you give them the chance to be helpful coming down the stretch.
CH: Talk about the backup point guard situation. There’s been talk of Marquis Daniels playing some point, Eddie House has shown the capability to play some….how do you think Doc is going to manage that?
Heinsohn: Well this is really a commitment to Rajon Rondo. Rondo is a potential hall of fame player. He’s got everything, everything you want a point guard to have. Plus he has a huge competitive edge on people, he wants to win so bad, he can taste it.
I think right now, you almost have to have him play some real serious minutes, because he is going to control the style of play, and there are very few point guards that can do what he does for this team. What he does for this team, is control the pace of the game. He is the rabbit for the greyhounds, he is out there and they got to chase him……and they do.
CH: Talk a bit about Rondo’s contract situation….will the team try to lock him up before the season starts or wait it out?
Heinsohn: Well I’m sure they want to sign him long term……we will see what the story is. They will make a good faith effort…..if everyone has their reasonable hats on……they know he is a terrific player and a franchise type player. They will do the right thing.
CH: What’s your take on the other contenders’ moves?
Heinsohn: Well I think Shaq going to Cleveland is number 1. I don’t think that’s going to be as big of a deal as people think. I think Artest playing out in LA….where is he going to play? Is he going to play the quick forward? He’s an offense/defense guy, maybe he helps Kobe, maybe Kobe helps him, I don’t know that remains to be seen. That’s a chemistry issue that remains to be resolved.
Then you have Vince Carter going to Orlando, which is nice….but they were a pretty solid team last year, I’m not sure if Carter is going to put them over the top.
CH: Talk about the window closing on this team. Have you talked to the guys over the summer, and what is their attitude like going into this year? Do they think the window is closing?
Heinsohn: Well I think they are all very competitive people, and they were very disappointed last year when they did what they did. I really thought they had a terrific season though going through all the injuries which brought them down below their potential was. They played way above what they should have been capable of playing to extend people the way they did.
They have nothing to be ashamed of, and I think right now that will carry over into this season. They are real competitors and they are going to give you for as long as they can. If we get what’s on paper, gets produced on the floor, which I think will happen unless there are serious injuries, I think you’re going to have a team that is going to give people a lot of trouble.