Apparently, all Jared Sullinger needed to break out of his slump was a little parental guidance.
Per Jessica Camerato of BasketballInsiders.com, Sullinger's father gave him a spirited pep talk in late January. Sullinger recounted the exchange:
He came up and cussed me out. I was thinking he had to tell me something or he wanted me to talk about how everything was going because he seemed worried about me. But instead the conversation just started off – well, his conversation started off – and I was just saying, ‘Yes sir. Yes sir. Yes sir.’ I was kind of in shock. He was telling me my body language sucks, my attitude sucks, I’m disrespecting the Sullinger name the way I’m acting on and off the court.
The tough love worked, and Sullinger has been an absolute beast ever since. In the six contests immediately following that Jan. 29 conversation, the Boston Celtics big man has averaged 19.8 points, 12.8 rebounds and 1.7 blocks on 48.5 percent shooting, per NBA.com.
In honor of his breakout stretch, the league honored him alongside Kevin Durant as the Player of the Week for games played Feb. 3 through Feb. 9:
The NBA has named Jared Sullinger the Eastern Conference Player of the Week: http://t.co/f2fEcWSoEj— Boston Celtics (@celtics) February 10, 2014
"His father’s visit reminded him of who he really is – he is a Sullinger, he is a Boston Celtic, he is a talented NBA player who is only scratching the surface of his potential," Camerato wrote.
Thanks to a little extra motivation and a clearer head, he's playing better, conducting himself more professionally and looking much more like the building block Boston needs him to be. This is just a brief stretch, but if Sullinger can maintain the kind of focus and no-nonsense approach he's employed recently, he could wind up winning a few more Player of the Week awards.
Better still, he'll avoid another verbal thrashing from his dad.