I remember her exactly. While I sat in the back of class with a hoodie draped over my head, pondering the next joke I would use to disrupt the class, she sat in the front taking notes and waiting for another opportunity to raise her hand and contribute to the discussion. She would come to class early for help even when she didn’t need it. She wouldn’t bring apples for our teachers — I think that’s just something they use in the movies, right? — but she never stopped behaving well. Teachers gave me detention. They gave her A’s. Because she did everything right, I hated her.
But my emotions are decidedly different when the teacher’s pet plays for the Boston Celtics. I want the Celtics to all deserves A’s. I want them contributing to the discussion and coming early to class and sitting in the front row. For Dionte Christmas, so far so good — at least off the court, since he had trouble finding his way onto the court during the first two preseason games. (Boston Herald)
That’s why Dionte Christmas generally gets right next to the coach whenever a halfcourt huddle is called at the end of practice, and asks a lot of questions. Game situations are more beyond the big guard’s control.
In the Celtics’ first two exhibition games in Istanbul and Milan, Christmas played very little, and only when Rivers decided to unload his bench late in a game. But practices count for much more, and Rivers can verbally lash out.
Christmas was occasionally singled out by the coach during the Turkey practices for failed rotations or errant moves. But he kept stepping up to the front of the huddle, kept asking questions, and as the only Celtic who has actually played in Turkey, was asked to address the crowd from center court prior to the Celtics’ loss to Fenerbahce Ulker in Istanbul’s Ulker Sports Arena.
Christmas’ energy stood out in summer league. He played well, shot well and created a lot — but more than anything else, I noticed his rebounding, hustle and commitment to defending the opposition’s best player. He’s hungry to make the NBA. He realizes this is his best (and maybe last) opportunity to make an NBA roster. He probably has the inside track on the 14th or 15th spot right now, and he doesn’t want to lose it.
(Note: I wrote a long column about Jason Terry for MassLive. Check it if you want.)