Camp Fire: Rookies sing Happy Birthday
October, 3, 2013
By Chris Forsberg | ESPNBoston.com
NEWPORT, R.I. -- Boston Celtics rookie Kelly Olynyk noted Wednesday that he had, to that point, been spared from any egregious hazing at training camp on the campus of Salve Regina University. That changed Thursday when Boston's three rookies -- Olynyk, Vitor Faverani, and Phil Pressey -- and the training camp invites -- Chris Babb, Damen Bell-Holter, DeShawn Sims, Kammron Taylor -- were forced to sing for birthday boy Courtney Lee after the team's final session at the Rodgers Recreation Center.
Led by Jared Sullinger, who Lee suggested has not shed yet his rookie status after playing in just 45 games last season, the true rookies briefly conferenced and came up with a little dance move to go along with their rendition. The effort wasn't lost on Lee, who gleefully watched and clapped along with Boston's veteran players.
Chris Forsberg/ESPN BostonThe remnants of Courtney Lee's post-practice birthday cake.
"That was the best [rendition] by far," said Lee. "I had about five or six rookies over there, and they were 2-stepping while they were singing to me. That was by far the best one."
Lee noted that Sullinger has to play 37 more games this season before he'll reach 82 for his career and shed the "rookie" label. Until then, he's been tasked with babysitting the true rookies.
"Sully is considered a rookie still because he hasn’t played 82 games yet," said Lee. "His job is to get the rookies in order and get that performance underway. And he did a good job of that."
The rookie group was a motley crew with Brazilian center Vitor Faverani and Olynyk offered some 7-foot baritone from the back line of the Singing Septet. Olynyk was brutally honest in reviewing the group's debut performance.
"We have a lot to work on there," deadpanned Olynyk. "We weren’t very in sync. We weren’t in tune. We have a lot to work on there in that category. Hopefully we’ll have a little bit of time before another birthday."
No pressure, guys. Coach Brad Stevens is next up on Oct. 22.
For his part, 28-year-old Lee, who also got a homemade banner (and some hugs) from the Salve Regina women's volleyball team, liked what he saw and heard from the rookies.
"I’m definitely going to invite them next time, they’ll come for my birthday," said Lee. "Any time I have a get-together and I need entertainment, they are coming."
Read on for more camp kindling from Thursday's session:
* HALF DAY OF HOOPS SCHOOL: After noticing that his team was fatigued after two days of double sessions, Stevens elected to go with a single practice to wrap up the team's three days in Newport. And despite having a trio of referees in attendance, the team didn't scrimmage as planned. "I thought we were a little bit winded from the last two days, so I actually cut out two scrimmage segments that we had, so we didn’t use the refs very long," said Stevens. What were Stevens' takeaways from the quick excursion to Little Rhody? "We got a lot in offensively, we’ve gotten at least good solid work in on the defensive system. We still have a long way to go."
* DAY OFF LOOMS FOR C'S: The Celtics will have a scheduled day off on Friday, allowing the players to catch their breaths from the start of camp, while the coaching staff will huddle to plot out where the team goes from here. Stevens stressed that leaving Newport isn't the "breaking" of camp. No, double sessions resume Saturday back at the team's training facility in Waltham. "I look at it as 2 ½ days away and then back to work. Am I happy where we are? I don’t think I’ve ever been happy after the first three days of practice. It’s not in my DNA, because all the answers aren’t there. We still have a lot of separation from a personnel standpoint to figure out. And we have a lot of bases to cover on offense and defense. Until we get to that point, I may not ever be happy, right? And that’s just kinda the nature of the beast."
* SULLY WILL PLAY IN PRESEASON: The Celtics' first exhibition game is Monday when the Toronto Raptors visit TD Garden. While Stevens said he's not anxious for the first game to arrive, preferring to maximize practice time, Sullinger noted he expects to be on the floor during the exhibition season (even as he navigates the final stages of rehab from back surgery and improves his conditioning). "I’m good. I’ll be playing during preseason," said Sullinger. "It’s just me getting back in shape."
* RONDOWATCH: WORKING OT AGAIN: Rajon Rondo went through another lengthy shooting routine with assistant coach Ron Adams after Thursday's lone workout. Rondo was the last one off the floor after working on shots from different areas of the floor. That included free throw work where Rondo, frustrated by consecutive misses at one point, screamed at himself in frustration. Adams, the longtime veteran NBA assistant, played the role of free-throw whisperer and, after some quick tips, Rondo made a long string of freebies while wrapping up his day.
* BE BACK SOON?: When a student reporter from the university asked if the Celtics would be interested in returning to Salve Regina in the future, Stevens, smitten by the Newport area during the team's visit, nodded and offered, "This is a great place. If not, the Stevens [family] will be back sometime in the offseason."