Every basketball fan knows about this time of year. Maybe they don't circle this date on their calendar, but it's in the back of their minds. For the Boston Celtics, the time has arrived. Training camp for the Celtics officially kicked off today in Newport, RI on the campus of Salve Regina University. With fresh faces this year, including Shaquille O'Neal and Jermaine O'Neal, Celtics fans have been eagerly anticipating camp this year. Here's what big this time around.
How's KG's Knee?
Yes, that is the all-important question. After his season-ending knee injury in February 2009, Kevin Garnett spent much of last year tepidly testing his surgically repaired knee, often seen wrapped up or braced. Today at camp, however, we learned that KG's knee is untaped, and he appeared more confident in practices in drills.
“If you’re speaking on my injuries, I feel better obviously a year later,’’ Garnett said. “My body feels good, man. I took only one rest today. [Rajon] Rondo and I just kept communicating and talking. It was a good day, man.’’
So far, so good, Celts fans. KG appears ready to go for this year. Things are looking pretty good heading into training camp.
The Ballad of the Two O'Neals
The most hotly anticipated arrivals this year were Shaq and Jermaine O'Neal. Shaq was his usual jokester self, distracting Kevin Garnett with his dancing during a press conference. In terms of basketball, the two O'Neals will be in the spotlight for much of training camp, with many hoping to witness signs that these two will fill the void at center with the loss of Kendrick Perkins to injury.
Shaq has already christened the new Celtics bench the "BBM" (Boston Bench Mob). Hopefully the bench can live up to the nickname and provide much-needed backup for our starting stars.
It was reported today that Jermaine O'Neal practiced with the first unit. Although it's early, this probably signals the readiness for the Celtics to start O'Neal at center and have Shaq come off the bench. May Hack-a-Shaq proudly continue in Boston!
Big Baby Lives Up to His Nickname
What? The man who cried on the bench after Kevin Garnett called out his performance, complaining? Yes, it's true. Glen Davis remarked to the media that he wasn't sure what direction the Celtics wanted to go in with his future, or what role he would be filling this year.
Frankly, this should be nothing new to Big Baby, a.k.a The Ticket Stub, whose role has changed quite a bit over his time in Boston. Nevertheless, Davis should count on coming off the bench and putting in key minutes and filling the gap when the starters are off. In any case, it's not your decision, Glen. Just put in the effort, learn your plays, get in shape, and Doc Rivers and his staff will find a place for you.
Of course, early in training camp, we will see lots of things the Celts need to work on, namely getting back in shape after the offseason. Although much remains to be seen, all signs point to a Celtic team desparate to win another championship, with 2010-2011 possibly being the last opportunity for a lot of guys to win one. With our familiar cast of characters returning with a few new additions, it's shaping up to be a good season. Too soon to say? Probably. But hey, you got to have hope.
Go Green 18!