There’s a stereotype that European players are soft. Not Semih Erden, says Doc Rivers. “I think he’s more of an Argentinian — that whole group of guys are as aggressive as you can get.”
Erden has displayed his toughness by battling through a shoulder injury, which Rivers says is likely a labrum issue. Rivers says Erden is more hurt than spectators understand, although Erden expects to finish the season before undergoing surgery. (ESPN Boston)
“He’s taken a beating this year, a typical rookie year,” said Rivers. “For a big, it probably hurts more that he has to practice with [Shaquille O'Neal], Kevin [Garnett], and [Glen Davis]. I don’t think that makes it any easier for him at all.
“We don’t know if he’s embracing it, we just know he’s getting hit. Even if he’s not trying to get hit, he’s getting hit anyway in our practices. Overall, he’s handling it pretty well. I think the language barrier helps on that, because when he complains to me about it, I don’t understand what he’s saying. So that’s good, too. I think he’ a physical player by nature, anyway.
At one point last night, Erden sat on the bench, winced, and grabbed for his shoulder. Clearly hurting, Erden is toughing out the pain to help the Celtics. With Kendrick Perkins and Jermaine O’Neal out with injuries, Erden’s toughness is more necessary than it should be. I never expected this, but the Celtics need Erden.
Not that all has been gravy for Erden this season. During last night’s first half, Erden looked like he was trying to become the fastest NBA player ever to foul out of a game. If Erden had dreads, black skin, and refused to rotate on defense, I would have sworn he was Mikki Moore. But even that spell of Moore-esque defense couldn’t hide that Erden has been a gift sent from Turkey.
“He has [exceeded expectations],” said Rivers. “This summer, his back was hurt, so in summer league, if you watched, you didn’t see much. We didn’t really know what we were getting. On film in the [FIBA world championships], he looked good, so that gave us some confidence, like ‘Wow, he can play this game.’ But you never know on our level if that’s going to translate. And it has.”
I saw the World Championships too, and Erden impressed the same way he has in Boston. Not with eye-popping statistics, but with an appreciable knowledge of the game.
It’s a good thing Erden’s a solid basketball player. After taking a shot to the nose last night from JaVale McGee, Doc Rivers noted, “He’s just not going to have a modeling career.”