Some connections between Clifford Ray, Dwight Howard and Kendrick Perkins. I knew Ray once taught Howard, but I never knew he taught both Howard and Perkins at the same time. (Orlando Sentinel)
Over on the opposing sidelines Tuesdsay night, a man was watching with mixed emotions.
He is a Boston Celtic by trade, but a piece of his heart is stuck on Dwight.
Clifford Ray is the man who embraced a young kid trying to play a man’s game, trying to impart all the knowledge and wisdom from years of playing tug-of-war with guys like Kareem and Cowens.
Clifford Ray used to call Dwight Howard “Rome.” Howard can’t figure out why, but it’s easy enough to connect the dots. Rome wasn’t built in a day, so we hear. It was Ray’s call of duty to nurture Howard as a rookie in the 2004-05 season, when Ray was an assistant coach with the Magic, and build him up, day-y-day.
Ray now works the other bench, as an assistant with Doc Rivers and the Celtics. Same guys intent of making Howard miserable during the playoffs, using every bit of guile and wisdom the old mentor used to throw at Howard, who was the young kid.
Howard can still hear Ray’s gravelly voice today, imploring him to get better: “Come on Rome! You got to keep working Rome! We’re gonna work today Rome!”
That they did. Every day in the gym, shortly after the time Howard became the No. 1 pick in the 2004 NBA Draft. They would drive to Sarasota, where Ray set up a big man’s camp. They would often have another passenger in the car: Kendrick Perkins, the guy who made Howard miserable with his bump-and-grind tactics in Game One.
It’s a cool story and all (and I really like Howard’s nickname Rome — it fits a lot better than Superman), but I’ve got one question:
If Clifford Ray is considered such a magnificent coach of big men, how come two of his star pupils have very little offensive game?