BOSTON - Leon Powe is one of the NBAs nice guys.
From his personal success story of thriving out of the foster care system to his professional success story of bouncing back from injury upon injury, Powe has displayed resiliency with a firm dedication and a warm smile on his face.
In spite of all the feel-good stories in the league, though, basketball is still a business, not a game of emotions. There comes a point when its time to think with your head and not your heart. That time arrived for Powe this season.
After finding himself riding the bench for the majority of the season with the Cleveland Cavaliers, it was time for a change of scenery. The organization waived Powe in February, making him available to join another team.
He immediately thought of the Boston Celtics.
This was the team that had given him his first start and the city that embraced his relentless effort. Two years after signing with the Cavaliers, he still had high regard for the Celtics' organization, as well as an appreciation for the fans who played such a big role in the Celtics' NBA championships.
"Ill be happy wherever I end up, but Boston is always holding a special place in my heart," Powe told CSNNE.com shortly after being waived. "The fans were so good to me, everybody up there was so nice, and it would be a great thing to return back to the Celtics if I could."
Even though Celtics always appreciated Powes efforts during his time in green, there were all those nagging injuries that plagued him throughout his career. The team needed to win now -- and with all the healthy bodies they could get. Powe had recovered from a torn right meniscus only weeks before he was waived.
When the Celtics signed forward Troy Murphy, the most highly sought-after free agent on the market, Powe realized he had to move on from the possibility of returning to Boston. At 27 years old, he needed stability and an opportunity to play.
He knew dwelling on what could have been in Boston wouldn't do him any good.
Once they signed him, it was pretty easy what they were saying -- they wanted Troy Murphy over me, Powe said. And they still had a lot of bigs here on the Celtics, so I was just like, Ive got to move on and Ive got to go somewhere else so I can at least get some type of playing time, some type of run. I didnt want to come over here and just sit down on the bench the whole time the rest of the season and be back in the same situation.
He added with a laugh, Like I said, I love all the fans, love everybody, but when it comes down to it, my little baby needs Pull-Ups.
The Memphis Grizzlies were one of the first teams that had expressed interest when Powe became available. He remembers things like that.
He took a look at his suitors, which also included in the New York Knicks, and assessed the best situation for this season and his future. He was attracted to the Grizzlies low-post game, to which he thought he could contribute, and their interest in size.
Memphis, I looked at their roster and they were rotating three bigs and they were an up-and-coming young team, he said. They were one of the first ones to call me when everything went down, and I respect that about them. And I knew general manager and vice-president of basketball operations) Chris Wallace already a little bit.
I was talking to a number of different teams. I think for the other teams, they wanted me to wait a little bit more. I had a team that I felt I could help and as they were waiting for me, I wasnt going to keep them waiting any longer. So I met with them and made it happen, and its been a good look for me. A real good look for me.
A real good look for Powe, indeed.
On Wednesday night he scored 13 points (5-6 FG) in 17 minutes off the bench as the Grizzlies beat the Celtics, 90-87. Nine of those points came in the first half alone. He hit the basket hard, took charges, and got to the line.
"Leon Powe was the baddest man on the planet tonight," said Doc Rivers.
Powe recalled Grizzlies head coach Lionel Hollins told his team to attack, and he was happy to oblige.
"Attack, thats what I like to do, so I said Im going to be a little bit extra aggressive tonight and see if I can force the issue a little bit, he said.
After watching the Cavaliers from the bench for the first half of the season, Powe hopes to look toward the playoffs with the Grizzlies. Their win against the Celtics gave them a two-game lead over the Houston Rockets for the eighth spot in the Western Conference.
Powe always believed that, when given the opportunity, he could help a club play postseason basketball. He looks to be on that path in Memphis.
It just proves to me that I made the right decision, he told CSNNE.com. I think things happen for a reason, and I think I was sent over here for a reason. I think what Ive been doing here in the last few weeks, helping this team, and helping our young guys understand the defensive principals too, I can bring a lot to this team and thats what I try to do.
Jessica Camerato is on Twitter athttp:twitter.comjcameratoNBA