When in Waltham, do as the veterans do.
That's the lesson rookies J.R. Giddens and Bill Walker are learning this summer, as vets Ray Allen and Paul Pierce were in Waltham Thursday going through workouts with Strength and Conditioning Coach Bryan Doo, gearing themselves up for an October training camp that's just a few weeks away.
"This is the same commitment we had a year ago when everyone got in early," Pierce said. "Just because we won a championship -- that's what the Boston Celtics [are] all about. Winning championships. So we're here early to try to do it again."
Allen, who's been alternating between Waltham and UCONN in Storrs, CT for offseason workouts, agreed that the team is showing the same commitment he saw last summer before the trip to Rome, and the new guys are already on the same page when it comes to dedication.
"We're in here trying to take care of our bodies and get ready for a new season," Allen said.
The challenge for the veterans is keeping themselves near season shape throughout the summer, so that when camp hits they're ready to go.
"As most of us have gotten older, you've got to keep your body right at that level where you're in shape, but you kind of relax a little bit and get away from the game," Allen said. "You've got to get away from the game to get rejuvenated for that next run."
After a few hours of workouts that included running with car tires strapped to his back, Pierce organized a pickup game between his teammates. Pierce played alongside Gabe Pruitt, Glen Davis, Patrick O'Bryant and J.R. Giddens, and they matched up against Ray Allen, Tony Allen, Rajon Rondo, Darius Miles and Leon Powe. Highlights of the game included a nasty swat by Miles, and a power slam in traffic from Leon Powe reminiscent of his Game 2 dunkfest against the Lakers.
Kendrick Perkins, who re-injured his left shoulder during the NBA Finals, was in the house for cardio work but did not participate in the pick-up game. Walker, meanwhile, has just returned to basketball activities in the last few days but also did not play in the game. He's been working hard on rehabilitating his knee and says he'll be ready to go for training camp.
"I'm just trying to get ready to contribute," Walker said of his offseason workouts. Walker's been talking to Tony Allen quite a bit about rehabbing knees, since both guys have sustained multiple knee injuries. But he's mostly just been impressed by the intensity of the workouts he's gone through with the Celtics. He's especially impressed by what he's seen from the veterans coming off a championship season.
"It just shows you why they're All-Pro guys," Walker said of his veteran teammates. "They come in and get their work in early, and they have a thirst for winning now. They want to win another championship now." Perhaps Pierce has been most demonstrative in setting the example this summer. When he wasn't encouraging his younger teammates during the pick-up game, Pierce was competing with them in an overhead medicine ball toss drill that's designed to build explosiveness.
While the workouts are serious business, that doesn't mean the Captain can't have a little fun with them either. He mocked Walker's first attempt at the medicine ball toss, and when Giddens asked Doo who won a footwork drill between himself and Pierce, the Truth informed him, "We either tied or I won."
"We're gonna get in shape, get ready, but also we're going to have fun," Pierce said. "We're going to be around each other a long time, get to know one and other, and we're going to have fun and work hard at doing it." Also on the agenda for Thursday: A ring sizing had the returning Celtics giddy about their new bling, due sometime between now and Opening Night.
"I'm exciting to get a chance to see what the ring is looking like. I've seen Antoine's, I've seen Sam's and I've seen Posey's," Pierce said. "Now it's time to see my own. I got tired of looking at everyone else's rings in the summer."
The Lakers will quickly kill those dreams