Erden receives guidance from countryman Turkoglu


Erden receives guidance from countryman Turkoglu

By A. Sherrod Blakely

BOSTON The TD Garden had all but emptied out except for a dozen or so basketball fans, some carrying camera phones along with red flags that had a white Crescent moon with a star in the center.

It is the national flag of Turkey, and those fans waited patiently to see Orlando's Hedo Turkoglu and Boston's Semih Erden, arguably the face (Turkoglu) and future (Erden) of Turkish basketball.

Another one of Turkey's top NBA imports, Utah's Mehmet Okur, will be at the Garden later this week.

So for Erden, this week will be a chance to not only catch up with a couple of teammates from his national team, but also another opportunity to learn from players he grew up idolizing as a youngster.

"We are all very close because of national team," Erden told CSNNE.com. "We are like family."

And Turkoglu, the first Turkish-born player to play in the NBA, is the undisputed leader of the Turkish migration to the NBA.

It is a role that Turkoglu does not take lightly.

"I'm trying to be a big brother, take care of them and help them out as much as I can," Turkoglu, a former first-round draft pick, told CSNNE.com. "When we play against each other, we get together. We talk every week, see what's going on. It's a general thing we do all the time. I'm happy about that."

While Erden has been taking classes to improve his English, Turkoglu improved his speaking skills by reading books, magazines and watching television.

"I used to watch the Martin Lawrence show," Turkoglu said. "And then 'Friends,' definitely 'Friends.' One of my favorites all time. Start to get to know, 'Everybody Loves Raymond'; just keep watching different shows, and like I said, the talking really helped me out. The more you talk, the more you speak, the more you learn, using words."

All those tips have helped Erden, but he said the biggest lessons he has learned from Turkoglu involved advice on how to survive in the NBA.

"He knows better than me; he is experienced," Erden said. "He says you have to be focused every time. And one other important thing. You have to be patient. It's not easy. It's not easy for you to play in the NBA because your first year, you have to be a rookie. It's not easy."

Erden began the season as just another big for the Celtics who was looked upon to provide added depth. Injuries, more than anything else, seemed to catapult him up the depth chart. He has even started four games this season, the only C's rookie to do so this season.

Now, he's out of the rotation while fellow rookie Luke Harangody is logging the minutes he used to get.

While there are some who might become frustrated with this unexpected turn of events, Erden said it doesn't bother him because it's something that, in talks with Turkoglu and Okur, didn't catch him by surprise.

"Now I know, they're right. It's not easy being NBA rookie," Erden, who did not play (coaches decision) on Monday, says with a wide grin. "I appreciate them. They're good guys. They are good persons. They help me a lot."

And as Erden walks away, surrounded by fans from Turkey and Turkoglu, he says, "I am patient. I will stay ready to play, always."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn.

Plenty of on-the-job training for Celtics' rookies

Plenty of on-the-job training for Celtics' rookies

BOSTON – With all the changes the Celtics went through over the summer, seeing more rookies on the floor this season was a given.
But six?
Yes, only three games into the season and the Celtics have played more rookies than any team under fifth-year coach Brad Stevens.


And in the 102-92 victory at Philadelphia on Friday night, the Celtics (1-2) played almost as many first-year players (five) as veterans (six).
The youth movement here in Boston has been sped up a bit by the season-ending injury to Gordon Hayward, compounded by a left ankle sprain to Marcus Smart that Smart said won’t keep him out any more than Friday night in Philly.

Even if Smart is back in the Celtics lineup Tuesday night against New York, that doesn’t change the fact that Boston will continue to need rookies to step up and contribute going forward as they did on Friday.
And while there’s an old adage about experience being the greatest teacher, Boston’s youngsters are going to have to fast-forward past some of those on-the-floor growing pains for the Celtics to stay among the top teams in the East.
“Everybody talks about young players having to learn by going through experience,” said Stevens. “Why don’t we just watch film and learn? Learn from things we can control and in the interim, let’s beat the age thing. Let’s not talk about the age thing. Let’s talk about how we can be better at what we can control and how we can learn and grow every day and expedite the learning curve.
Stevens added, “because they are going to get opportunities all the way down the line, let’s not focus on trying to learn from experience; let’s focus on learning from every day and see if we can get a little bit better every day.”
The one rookie who has had no problem adjusting to the NBA game early on has been Jayson Tatum.
Selected with the third overall pick last June, Tatum has been among the NBA's most productive rookies in this first week of the season.
Tatum’s 35.3 minutes played per game is tops among all rookies. His 12.3 points and 9.0 rebounds rank seventh and fourth among his first-year brethren.
Stevens loves what he has seen thus far from Tatum, but believes he’s capable of making an even greater impact sooner rather than later.
“I like him to shoot it on the catch more,” Stevens said. “Because he has tremendous touch. When he shoots it in rhythm with confidence, the ball finds the net. He’s one of those guys; he’s a natural scorer. But his ability to read the game … he’s very intelligent. It’s been more evident on the defensive end. He’s gonna pick his spots offensively now. But we want him to be aggressive and first and foremost, be a threat to shoot it every time he catches it.
Stevens added, “I guess it should feel pretty good when you’re 19 years old and your coach is begging you to shoot it.”
How quickly Tatum and the rest of Boston’s youngsters grow into the roles they will be asked to play this season can do nothing but help the Celtics adapt to what has already been a season with major changes needing to be made.
“You saw [against Philadelphia], we had Shane [Larkin], we had Guerschon [Yabusele], we had guys coming in that played the game at a high level and we need them to contribute,” said Boston’s Kyrie Irving. “For me to see that and witness that, it makes me nothing but proud and happy to have teammates that are ready to play. It’s not always going to look perfect because we’re still gaining knowledge about one another. But as long as we’re out there competing, having each other’s backs, that’s all that matters.”

Kyrie Irving fined $25,000 for his inappropriate language with a fan


Kyrie Irving fined $25,000 for his inappropriate language with a fan

BOSTON – As expected, the NBA has fined Celtics guard Kyrie Irving $25,000 for using “inappropriate language” toward a fan at the Friday night game in Philadelphia.
The incident occurred at halftime as Irving and his teammates were heading to the locker room, trailing by four. Boston went on to win 102-92 for their first victory of the season.
A fan yelled, “Hey, where’s LeBron?” to which Irving replied with a lewd suggestion to the yeller.
The Celtics practiced on Saturday with Irving addressing the incident.

When asked if he had any regrets about the incident, Irving replied, “Hell no. Man enough to record it on video, that’s on him. I’m glad he got his ad name out there, and his five seconds of fame and it’s gone viral. That’s social media platform we live on.
Irving added, “I take full responsibility for what I said. You move on.”
When asked about the incident on Saturday, Celtics coach Brad Stevens said he had not seen the video but was aware of it.
“People make mistakes; hopefully learn from them and move on,” Stevens said. “There’s a right and wrong. And if you’re in the wrong you have to own up to it and that’s that.”

It was the second such fine levied by the league in as many days. 

New Orleans center DeMarcus Cousins was fined $25,000 for "inappropriate language" toward a fan when the Pelicans lost 103-91 at Memphis on Wednesday.