Running Diary: Rondo, Rondo, Rondo as Celtics overcome Warriors

Friday, September 18, 2009

Rajon Rondo has played some fine basketball this season, and has been one of the C's best players, if not the very best. I've been on record as saying I loved his selflessness and great team play.
But tonight was the first game his play finally approached what he did in last season's playoffs. Remember, back when he was aggressive and destroying teams? Back when he didn't give a damn who was guarding him or how he was being guarded? Rondo was a monster in the playoffs, and he was a monster tonight, especially in the second half.

He was going to the hoop and, instead of kicking it out, attacking all the way for layups. He was snatching rebounds, pushing the tempo, and disrupting the Warriors offense. After 30 or so minutes of emotionless play, Rondo was the one who took the Celtics' collective head out of its ass by burning Golden St. time after time.

I'm so happy about Rondo's breakout performance that I haven't even talked about the first half yet. Do I even have to talk about the first half? God knows I don't want to.

It was an abysmal performance during which the Celtics went through the motions and didn't do much of anything right. Perkins scored a lot, but nobody rebounded, nobody contested shots, and nobody stopped penetration. Players like Vlad Radmanovic -- players who have no business driving by a toll booth, never mind a professional basketball player -- got into the teeth of the Celtics defense and made plays. The C's showed no heart, no emotion, and no energy. It was a listless, lackadaisical performance that I would like to forget. Like, now.

The second half was a different story, as the C's finally snapped out of their funk and looked alive. Rondo was the catalyst, but everyone had a little extra pep in their step. The C's held Golden St. scoreless for a span of over six minutes in the third quarter, and their offensive ball movement picked up as the defensive rotations improved.

It's funny what a little energy will do. The C's have looked horrible for a few games now, but when they pick up the intensity, when they do the little things, when they actually look like they're trying, the Celtics can look unbeatable.

And Rondo's play went a long way towards helping them look that way tonight. At least in the second half.

Here's a running diary of my thoughts during the game, while it was going on.

First Quarter

I'm going to start things off with a great pregame tweet from ESPNBoston's Chris Forsberg (follow Celtics Town on twitter here):

ESPNForsberg: Mikki Moore enjoying his time on Golden State. Says players call him the O.G. Reporter asks if that stands for "old guy."

My thoughts? If I called Mikki Moore O.G., it would probably stand for "Oh-my-goodness-I'm-glad-he's Gone.

O.G. is in the starting lineup, and he was booed by the Boston crowd. In other news, the over/under on time before O.G.'s first foul in tonight's game is two minutes. I have the under.

It wasn't just under, it was way under. O.G. commits his first foul 18 seconds into the game. I think it was the longest he's ever been on the court without committing a foul.

Vladimir Radmanovic is guarding Kevin Garnett to begin the game. I'll repeat that: Vladimir. Radmanovic. Is. Guarding. Kevin. Garnett. If he has a pulse, he should have a big game.

Garnett may not have a pulse. If he did, he would not have been dunked on by O.G., like he just was. Wow, Garnett was just dunked on by O.G. That's way, way more shocking than it would have been if O.G. played a full half without committing a foul.

Right after posterizing Garnett, O.G. committed his second foul in the first three minutes.

The Celtics are having their way with Golden State's defense. Then again, so would my 4th-grade CYO team. 9-5, Celtics.

Unfortunately, the Celtics' now-porous defense is also getting shredded. 13-9, Celtics, but Golden St. is really getting some good looks.

The C's should have an incredibly easy time scoring down low tonight. As already mentioned, Garnett is being defended by Radmanovic. Another matchup: The Rondo-thin Anthony Randolph is guarding Perk. Perk just sealed him all the way under the bucket and drew the foul on Garnett's entry pass. Celtics should feed the ball down low every single time they have the ball.

On the other side, the C's bigs will really struggle to guard the more mobile Warriors bigs. And no, I'm not talking about O.G.; I mean Randolph and Radmanovic.

O.G. back in the game with 4:30 left in the quarter. I'll let you know when he picks up his third foul.

The Warriors are so small that even Rasheed Wallace seems content with playing on the blocks. He was on the blocks his first possession, which ended up with him kicking it out of the post to an open Celtic outside, then scored out of the post his second possession. It's odd to see Rasheed in the post, and even odder when you realize he still possesses a lot of post-up skills. It makes you wonder why he spends so much Goddamn time out at the three-point arc.

Huh? Raja Bell? Wasn't he going to get surgery? I guess he's going to play for now while the Warriors are short-handed. Or maybe me reading the headlines rather than the whole article led to me missing where it said his surgery wasn't scheduled for a little while. Frankly, I don't know, and if it was someone more important than Raja Bell, I'd probably find out. But I've got bigger fish to fry than Raja Bell.

C's are winning, 27-23 after the first half. They shot a ho-hum 59% from the field, and are getting whatever shots they want. The Warriors, though, are keeping it close by spreading the floor and actually outrebounding the Celtics. There is no excuse to be outrebounded by this squad. None.

Second Quarter

J.R. Giddens played the end of the first quarter, and is playing the start of the second quarter now. Umm, maybe the Celtics DO need Andres Nocioni? In all seriousness though, I would appreciate it if the C's didn't spend $21 million over the next three years on a player who may or may not even be able to crack the rotation this season. He's a tough, gritty player, but Nocioni plays little defense and can't do much of anything on offense besides hit open threes. Please, Danny Ainge. Don't do it.

O.G. foul update: It's a miracle, but he still only has two fouls.

Ew. Ew, ew, ew. I know Rasheed Wallace is old, but he doesn't have to look like he never ran a fast-break before. In case you didn't see it, 'Sheed got a steal, passed it off to Rondo who dribbled it upcourt and fed a running 'Sheed on the right win for an easy layup. Well, it should have been easy. Instead, 'Sheed looked like he had the slowest seizure in the history of mankind, half-running and half-walking into his defender and losing the ball in the process. I just puked in my mouth a little.

Remember the "best defense in the history of the NBA" talk? I may sound a little like Jim Mora, but here goes: Best Defense?? Best Defense?? I just want to get a stop!! It's 41-39, Celtics with just under six minutes left, and they can't seem to stop anyone.

The Warriors have very, very little defensive intensity. Whenever the Celtics get a little ball movement, they get easy looks, but when the C's are going one-on-one they've had a little tougher time. Move the ball, Celts. Offense is extremely simple against Golden St., I promise.

Meanwhile, the C's have no defense whatsoever. The Warriors aren't just getting good shots, they're getting layups and dunks. Radmanovic has gotten into the teeth of the Celtics defense time after time. Boston's help "D" doesn't just seem bad, it seems nonexistent.

Giddens is inserted with four seconds left in the half for defensive purposes, just in time to win the "Tony Allen Award" for inadvertently fouling a shooter at the least opportune time. Congratulations, J.R., you are the winner of a brand new basketball tutor!

Celtics leading 49-48 at halftime, after a 3/4-court one-handed heave by Garnett swishes, but gets taken away for being after the buzzer. The Celtics are going through the motions, not working hard on defense, and not caring enough to move the ball offensively. It's like the last two seasons, and the first five games of this season, are long-lost memories. Big props to @Jose3030 for the video.

By the way, the C's are being outrebounded 21-14 at halftime. By a team that starts O.G. and Vlad Radmanovic. If you aren't embarrassed by that stat, you're either a) not a Celtics fan, or b) not capable of being embarrassed.

Alright, everybody, I feel better. I just switched the station to ESPN, where the Wizards are playing the Cavs, and I was instantly cheered up. I looked over at the Wizards' bench, and I started to say to my roommate, "Mike Miller looks like a weird-looking dude with that hair." Then I realized you can't look like a weird-looking "dude" when you look like a woman. Why does this make me happier? For all the bad defense, all the poor offense, and all the shitty rebounding the Celtics have shown recently, at least they don't have a player on their team who looks like a woman.

Third Quarter

The Celtics are, to keep this story short, being outworked. The Warriors are getting layups, rebounds and winning all the loose balls. It looks like the Celtics' morning alarm still hasn't gone off.

I think it's about time Doc re-institutes the morning shootaround. Maybe then the C's will wake up in the morning, rather than waiting until the third or fourth quarter to finally snap out of their deep slumber.

O.G. finally picked up his third foul. It took him about 24 minutes of game-time, or approximately 24 times the usual amount of time it takes him to pick up a foul.

The crowd seems unbelievably on edge. After watching this team play with heart, passion and guts for two full season, everyone in the TD Garden seems uneasy to watch such a heartless effort. So do I.

Earth to Kevin Garnett. Earth to Kevin Garnett. Aren't you supposed to be the most intense player in the league? Aren't you supposed to keep your teammates on their toes and pump them up? Start crawling around on all fours, Garnett. Your team badly, badly needs an infusion of your supposedly contagious energy.

Never mind, Garnett, you don't need to bring energy. Rajon Rondo will do it for you. Rondo made a few very nice takes in a row, and all of a sudden the Celtics are moving with a purpose on both ends for the first time in the game. It's nice to see, but it makes you wonder why it took 30 minutes for the Celtics to show a little life. 70-59, Celtics.

By the way, according to Chris Forsberg, Golden St. just endured a 6:01 scoring drought. So much for the porous defense, I suppose. A lot of it has to do with Rondo; he's everywhere right now. (Although he just waved Raja Bell by on his way to the hoop when the Warriors finally broke the drought.)

Rasheed Wallace just argued a foul call vehemently. Shocker. But the reason I'm telling this story is that Tommy Heinsohn remarked about Wallace, "Get this guy an ice cube to calm him down." Classic Heinsohn material.

80-68, Celtics at the end of the third, and they actually showed signs of being a good basketball team during that quarter.

Fourth Quarter

A quick run by the Celtics to start the fourth puts this game pretty much out of reach, 86-70. Red Auerbach, wherever he may be, can now light up his victory cigar; the Warriors are capable of putting up a lot of points in a hurry, but they can't possibly stop the Celtics enough to make up the difference.

I don't want to tell Red to put his stogie away but, well, he might want to put that stogie away. Golden St. just had a six-point run to cut the lead to ten. I still don't think Golden St. has a chance, but you can't exactly count them out yet. Actually, yes you can. Even after a little run, the Warriors are not coming back. Not against the Celtics, no matter how bad they looked in the first two and a half quarters of this game.

Eddie House got a little hot and drained a coupled in a row. It's amazing how streaky a shooter he is. Sometimes, he'll seemingly go through weeks, even months, without missing, but other times he's a cold as a New England winter night.

Ray Allen is putting Steph Curry on the blocks. I'm not sure if Ray's had more favorable matchups so far this season than he usually does, but he seems to be spending a lot more time in the post this season. I'm still not accustomed to seeing Ray punishing opposing guards down low, but he's been doing it with a lot more frequency this season, and he actually has a pretty polished post game.

If I heard this right, this stat is ridiculous: The Celtics were the 23rd straight team to surpass 100 points against the Warriors. I'm not sure if it's true, and I feel like it can't be, but DAYYUUUUMMM, that's wild if it is.

The bum squad is in with a couple minutes to play, and this one is officially over. Rondo gets a well-deserved rest, finishing with 18 points, 12 assists and 7 rebounds.

Last update: The Celtics wound up beating the Warriors on the boards, 36-35. In other words, they beat O.G. and co. by one measly rebound. It may look bad, but they were down seven boards at halftime.

Inferring Celtics Owner Steve Pagliuca's Political Views

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

On September 14, it was reported that Boston Celtics owner Steve Pagliuca is considering a campaign for the Massachusetts U.S. Senate seat vacated by the death of Sen. Edward Kennedy. Pagliuca has no background in politics, but the managing director of Bain Capital HAS served on the NBA board of governors. Despite his lack of political experience, WBZ reports that a “top adviser” has confirmed that Pagliuca is very well-versed “with the two big issues today: health care and the economy.”

But don't you want to know his views before you vote for him? I know not everybody is like I am... I would vote for Rick Pitino if he ran for Senator, no matter what his views were, no matter how poor his actions have been, just because he was at one point affiliated with the Boston Celtics. So let’s find out what Pagliuca's stances are on a few major political issues, before you make the same mistake I would by voting for an undeserving candidate…


Education? Who needs education? Pagliuca is fine with people getting a high school diploma, but cares little about secondary education. His team’s starting five is composed entirely of players who never graduated college, with two players (Kendrick Perkins and Kevin Garnett) having never taken a single college class. Pagliuca has a reason to doubt education, though… arguably his smartest player— Garnett – never stepped foot on a college campus, while his dumbest player – Tony Allen – graduated from Oklahoma St. with a degree in, you guessed it, education.

The economy

As stated by the “top adviser” in WBZ’s report, Pagliuca has a lot of experience with the economy. How much? Well, in a time of cost-cutting and recession, Pagliuca and his Boston Celtics co-owners have somehow managed to secure $97,059,082 worth of salaries (including luxury tax, according to Celtics Hub). If you want budget cuts, I wouldn’t expect Pagliuca to be your guy. He does use his money wisely, though – this summer, after seeing the Celtics’ thin frontcourt decimated by injuries, he signed Rasheed Wallace and Marquis Daniels and re-signed Glen Davis.

Health care

After last year’s injury bug derailed the Celtics’ title hopes, it is pretty clear that Pagliuca is a huge advocate of health care reform. Kendrick Perkins, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen were all hindered by health issues during last year’s playoffs, and Kevin Garnett and Leon Powe suffered season-ending injuries. Pagliucaa may not have any political background, but he sure as hell knows he doesn’t want Garnett missing any more time this season. At the same time, he isn’t in favor of a nation-wide health care reform… he actually would like to ban health care entirely in L.A., Cleveland, Orlando, and San Antonio.

Gay marriage

Anybody who watched James Posey’s homo-erotic pregame hugs last season knows that Pagliuca is in favor of gay marriage. In fact, he might even be in favor of public gay porn. Pagliuca is a big believer that well-timed (read: pre-game) homo-erotic hugs and in effect, gay marriages, actually prepare and focus the mind to perform to the best of an individual’s abilities. He even noted that he’s been prodding Kevin Garnett to consider gay marriage, thinking it would help him regain the magic of 2008.

Capital punishment

Pagliuca has gone on the record to admit that he is not in favor of capital punishment… unless the criminal in question happens to be a Lakers fan. Then, even for petty crimes such as jaywalking, Pagliuca suggests capital punishment is the only way to rid the world of such scum. He also has stated, "I hope all jaywalking Lakers fans burn in hell."

Second Amendment

The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution gives citizens the right to keep and bear arms. Just in case you forgot, potential Senator Pagliuca would like to remind you that he once employed Sebastian Telfair. In case anybody still doesn’t know Senator Pagliuca’s stance on the Second Amendment, Telfair once tried to smuggle a gun inside a pillowcase onto the Portland Trail Blazer’s team plane. When arrested, Telfair explained how it wasn’t his gun, that he just accidentally grabbed his girlfriend’s gun when he took the wrong bag… I guess she always carries a gun in her pillowcase.

Needless to say, Pagliuca is all for bearing arms.

So there you have it, Steve Pagliuca's political views. Are you still going to vote for him? I am. So far, everything he's touched has turned to gold.

Where will Paul Pierce rank among Celtics Hall-of-Famers?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

"The only thing you take with you when you're gone is what you leave behind" - John Allston

If you ever look up into the rafters at the recently renamed TD Garden, you'll see countless banners, some dedicated to championships and others to players.

Far more than just fabric stitched with letters and numbers, those banners prove to be a reminder of the past, proof of the Celtics' best times and most cherished players. When you look up and see the number six, can you help but envision Bill Russell gracefully running the floor, extending his long, sinewy arms and blocking an opposing player’s shot? I never got to see Bill Russell play, but every time I look up and see his jersey number I never fail to imagine him playing one more game, blocking one more shot, or winning one more championship. Russell's career is over, but it will never be forgotten as long as his number remains in the rafters, as long as people still remember his career, the legacy he left behind.

When I look up and see the 1986 banner, I can't help but think about Larry Bird whipping a no-look pass to Kevin McHale, or Robert Parish's long-armed turnaround jumper. I think back to the tenacious defense of Dennis Johnson, the wondrous wizardry of Bird, and the gritty, bold play of Danny Ainge. When you see the banner, the past comes to life as memories of the great times flood your head. I wasn't even alive in 1986, but I'll always imagine what it would have been like to watch that team, every time I look up at its championship banner.

Now, you can look up and see a 2008 championship banner alongside the 16 others. At first glance, it might look like simple fabric adorned with letters and numbers. It might even seem like merely one banner out of 17, a banner that no doubt will get lost in the sea of Boston Celtics championships. But that banner is far more than fabric, far more than one of many. Just like the other championship banners and the retired numbers that came before it, that banner is proof that the memories made will last forever. That banner is the first sign that the 2008 team will be immortalized in Boston Celtics lore, the first sign that the team that returned the Celtics to glory will never be forgotten.

Long after the retirement of the Big Three, far beyond the time when Doc Rivers no longer strolls the sidelines, people will look up at that banner. Those who are old enough to remember the Celtics 17th championship will think fondly of memories made during the glorious title run, while those too young to remember, even those too young to even be alive for the title, will imagine what it would have been like to follow and root for such a terrific team.

Soon, Paul Pierce’s number will be up there in the rafters too. After his retirement, it’s a no-brainer that Pierce, the unquestioned greatest Celtic of his era, will be honored as an all-time Celtics great.

But how will people remember him twenty, thirty, forty years from now? It seems safe to say that Pierce will never receive the adulation and amazement inspired by Bill Russell and Larry Bird, the two greatest Celtics ever, but will he at least be in the next echelon?

To me, that next echelon is composed of two, and only two, players. On a franchise that has 22 players currently in the Hall-of-Fame for their professional basketball careers, it is difficult for a player to make a name for himself. To somehow carve a lasting legacy in a franchise entwined by legends and encompassed in history, a player not only has to be great, he has to sustain that greatness for a long period of time.

If you ask me, the only two players who have set themselves apart from the rest of the Celtics’ Hall-of-Fame pack are John Havlicek and Bob Cousy. Kevin McHale was close but, playing in the shadow of Larry Bird, he was never the best player on his team. Dave Cowens tried valiantly but, in the end, his career was not long enough to earn him stature at the top. Sam Jones, Dennis Johnson, Robert Parish, Bill Sharman… the list of great Celtics goes on, but Cousy and Havlicek were the only two Celtics, besides Bird and Russell, who became synonymous with the organization. If you thought of the Celtics in the early 1950’s, Cousy’s flashy ball-handling and flair for passing were what came to mind; in the 1970’s, it was Havlicek’s tenacious play and relentless consistency.

No other players have become synonymous with the Celtics, no other players defining an entire generation of the organization’s storied history…

Until Paul Pierce came along.

In 1998, Pierce was drafted by a Boston Celtics franchise struggling through the most dire seasons in the franchise’s existence. In little time, Pierce surpassed Antoine Walker as the C’s best player, in the process leading the Celtics from the depths of the NBA’s cellar to an Eastern Conference contender. By the time Pierce’s third year rolled around, he had established himself as one of the better all-around players in the NBA, averaging over 25 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists per game.

For most of his career, Pierce has been the lone face of the Boston Celtics. You could argue that, until the C’s resurgence, Pierce had been the face of the Celtics during one of the bleakest periods the organization had ever known. You could argue that he was only the best player on bad teams.

But how much bleaker would the early 2000’s had been for the Celts had they not drafted Pierce with the 10th pick in the 1998 draft? How much worse would those bad teams have been without Pierce? Even in 2006-2007, the worst team Pierce ever played for, the Celtics were 21-27 with Paul Pierce. That record seems pretty bad – until you realize Boston was 4-31 during the 35 games Pierce missed.

For many years, Paul Pierce carried the Celtics through tough times, lifting them onto his shoulders and making them more formidable than they ever could have been without him. Since he was drafted, Pierce has had the single greatest influence on the Celtics of any player. He spent many years toiling with lesser teammates but rarely complained and always soldiered on, ready to go to battle for the only franchise he’s ever known.

With a championship under his belt and likely a few more good years left, Paul Pierce should be remembered as one of the best to ever suit up for the Green and White, a legend even among other legends. Years from now, when Pierce is retired, he’ll leave behind a legacy, just like all the other Celtics greats have. And when people look into the rafters and see the number 34 hanging there, they should remember him as fondly as any other Celtic.

They’ll remember his pull-up jumpers, his methodical drives to the hoop, and the way he nobly led the Celtics through such low times. They’ll remember his loyalty through tough times, his passionate leadership, and the joy he radiated when he finally cracked through for his first championship.

And if John Allston is right – if the only thing you take with you when you’re gone is really what you leave behind – then Paul Pierce, even when he’s gone, will still have a hell of a lot.

'I'll never back down': The Chronicles of Lester Hudson

Monday, September 14, 2009

If you're a serious Celtics fan, you know who Lester Hudson is. You know he was the 58th pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, that he played his college basketball at the University of Tennessee-Martin, and that he can play either guard position.

If you're a really big fan, you might even know that he was the NCAA's second-leading scorer last season (averaging 27.5 points per game), and that he is the only NCAA Division 1 player to ever record a quadruple-double. You may know that he averaged 7.9 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and 2.3 steals for the Skyhawks in his senior season, and that he measured in at 6'1" and 196 lbs., with a 6'9" wingspan, a 36" vertical leap and a chiseled 3.4% body fat.

But how much do you really know? Besides stats and a few facts, do you really know much about Lester Hudson?

Chances are, you've never seen him play. You probably know little about his game besides what you've read on or You likely know little about the struggles he had to overcome to even play college basketball, and you probably don't know how excited he is to have the opportunity to play for the Boston Celtics.

Luckily, Lester will be giving a series of interviews for Celtics Town. In it, we will delve into his past, explore his current situation with Boston, and do a little speculation into his future.

Here's the first installment of the series of interviews:

Jay King: Can you tell me a little bit about your journey from Central High School to Southwest Tennessee Community College, and finally to UT-Martin?

Lester Hudson: I grew up in a pretty bad neighborhood, but instead of being dragged down by my surroundings I was always determined to do whatever I could to get out of the neighborhood.

I actually didn't know how much I loved basketball until I was able to play for my high school coach. He saw me playing one day and asked me if I would try out for the team. Later on, after I knew how much I loved the game and had finished a successful high school career, I wasn't allowed to play my senior year. Since I had failed my ninth grade year and had to repeat it, they wouldn't let me play during my last year at school. Without basketball, I didn't do my work, and wound up short of graduating high school.

The following year, while I was working on getting my GED, my high school coach asked me if I wanted to go to a tryout for the Southwest Tennessee Community College team – he never lost faith in me, never stopped thinking I could play college ball. I did really well against the players on the team, and I was offered a spot in school and on the team.

By the time I got into STCC, I knew that I needed to work hard in school to continue my dream of playing basketball and escaping my neighborhood. I had two unbelievable years at STCC – I think I was rated one of the top twenty junior college players in the country – but I once again didn't graduate. Because I was behind, I had to take beginner courses to get into the real courses, and I failed to meet all the graduation requirements.

Since I didn't graduate, I couldn't go right into playing college basketball, and I couldn't have a scholarship my first year. I decided to go to UT-Martin, but I had to pay my way for the first year – a year I red-shirted. I received financial aid and took out loans to cover the rest of the money, and I finished up my college career at UT-Martin.

A lot of Celtics fans don't know much about your game. Could you describe your game for us?

I can score the ball really well, get in the passing lanes, and fill up the stat sheet. I rebound, pass, and play defense. Basically, I do whatever my team needs me to do. At UT-Martin, I had to score to help us win, but with the Celtics I'm willing to do whatever the coaches ask me to do, whatever the team needs me to do so we can win.

I consider myself a very good defender. I like to play both ends of the floor because I know that if I'm scoring but then coming back the other way and giving up a bucket, it doesn't help us out. I pride myself in being able to put a lot of pressure on ball-handlers and being a disruptive force.

In college, my coach actually had to ask me to stop applying so much pressure on defense, because I was getting into a little bit of foul trouble. The team needed me on the floor, so I couldn't pick up cheap fouls. In the NBA, I should be able to be an even better defender than I was in college.

I'm an aggressive player on both ends and a very good rebounder who isn't afraid to mix it up down low – despite my size. If I had to describe my game in one sentence, I'd say I am an all-around player and a winner.

How do you feel about being drafted by the Boston Celtics?

I think I'm in the best position of anybody who was drafted. Danny Green (drafted by Cleveland) is the only other player in a comparable position.

First of all, I get a chance to play for the best team in the world. I'm in a great position because I get to play with veteran guys who know how to play the game and are willing to help me out. Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Rasheed Wallace, Rajon Rondo, Kendrick Perkins, Glen Davis – and I could keep going – those guys are all great players and know what it takes to succeed in this league.

Even playing with those guys in Waltham (at the Celtics' practice facilities), I am trying to let them help me out. Paul Pierce took me aside the other day and taught me different ways to use a pick-and-roll. Coming out of college, I don't know as much about the little parts of the game as these guys do, and I'm just trying to learn as much as I can.

I know you tested the draft waters after your junior year. How do you feel about staying for your senior season?

You know, everything happens for a reason. Coming out of my junior year, I was really close to turning pro. I actually received a lot of good feedback from the teams, and was told I would have gone higher in the draft last year than I did this year.

But everything happens for a reason, and I now have a diploma, which means a lot to me, and a chance to play for the best team in the world. So I would say everything has turned out very well.

How long have you been living and working out in Waltham for?

I've been here for about two months, working on my conditioning, ball-handling and shooting. With my finger, I was only cleared to play full-court last week. I was able to still do all my drills before that, but I wasn't cleared for contact until then.

Now, I'm out here trying to get acclimated to the Celtics and work on my game. The coaching staff told me I should work on my ball-handling the most. In college, I handled the ball a lot and did a good job of it, but nobody really put too much pressure on me. I was the star, and the other team knew if they pressured me I was going to go right by them. Now, with trees like Dwight Howard down low, teams will be able to pressure and not be so worried about me going by them. So I've been working a lot on my ball-handling to be able to handle that NBA pressure.

Everybody else started getting here a couple weeks ago, and now almost everybody is here in Waltham. I'm excited to be able to learn from all the guys and keep getting better.

I think the veterans like me, because they know I want to get better and that I'll never back down from anybody. It doesn't matter who I'm playing, I'll never back down. I could be playing against Kobe Bryant, but I'm going to go after him. It doesn't matter who it is.

Coming out of a small school, do you feel at a disadvantage compared to the players who played better competition?

No. I think I'm ready, and I'm confident in myself. I don't feel that anybody can stop me from scoring the ball.

In college, every team I played knew I was going to score twenty on them, at least. They threw double and triple teams at me, and I had to score against more defensive attention than anybody in the major conferences. If I had been at Duke, Carolina, or Michigan State, I would have had a lot more help. Not to say my teammates weren't good players, they were great teammates, but other teams could get away with doubling or tripling me. At those other schools, where guys have so many other talented teammates, they don't face the defensive attention that I faced every night.

I feel that if I had been on national T.V. eight times last year, I would have been drafted a lot higher. If I was on T.V. eight times, I would have had eight great games in front of scouts. I would have had at least 25 points in front of scouts, eight different times. I would have gotten a lot more exposure, and my play would have spoken for itself.

But everything worked out. I ended up in Boston, and I am in a great situation where I get to work with veteran players who know how to win.

How is your contract situation coming along?

I'm just trying to stay patient and let my play decide my contract. It's up to nobody but me, whether I earn a spot on the team. I'm not worried about it, I'm just out here trying to impress whoever I can... the coaching staff, Danny Ainge, the owners, the weight trainers, the equipment managers, everybody. I'm going to let my play do my talking, and hopefully the contract will work itself out.

Be sure to check out the next installment of the Chronicles of Lester Hudson, which will be posted sometime within the next week or so. In it, we'll go into more depth about Lester's offseason workout regimen and update you on his quest to make the Boston Celtics.