Celtics

Richardson not just a veteran NBA official, but a Navy vet, too

nba-official-leroy-richardson-111117.jpg

Richardson not just a veteran NBA official, but a Navy vet, too

BOSTON – At some point on Friday night, Leroy Richardson made a decision that Celtics fans hated.
 
He’s an NBA official.
 
It happens, right?

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But before the boo birds came out, fans should have taken a moment and thanked him.
 
No, not for a favorable whistle or a no-call in favor of the Celtics, who rallied to beat Charlotte, 90-87.
 
They should've thanked him, along with the many men and women who have served this country with pride as part of the military.
 
Before becoming an NBA official, Richardson spent 12 years in the Navy.
 
Richardson, 53, is quick to admit how important his time in the Navy has been in helping shape him into the man he is today.
 
“Everything from the way I still make up a bed,” Richardson told NBC Sports Boston. “The skillsets you learn, the discipline, your core values are really refined in the military. It’s God, country, team. It’s about the service. You learn that there’s something bigger than you; that’s the biggest thing. You learn to trust the man next to you not with menial things, but with your life a lot of times.”
 
And while Richardson was very much interested in joining the military as a teenager, you have to remember...he was a teenager.
 
So when it came time to start looking at a particular branch of the service...I’ll let him tell you what happened.
 
“I was interested in going into the United States Marine Corps at first because they had the best-looking uniforms,” Richardson said. “As a [teenager], you’re going for the cool uniform, the thing that women liked to see.”
 
But his parents imparted to him some advice that in hindsight, dramatically changed his life’s journey.
 
They reminded him that electronics was one of his academic strengths and that particular skill might be better suited in the Navy or Air Force.
 
“After I tested and scored high, the Navy recruiters were very high on me and wanted to bring me in on their advanced electronics program,” Richardson recalled. “They genuinely showed a real desire to have me in.”
 
Richardson was an enlisted surface warfare specialist and underwater sea surveillance specialist stationed in Keflavik, Iceland, from 1986-1987 and was also deployed to the Mediterranean from 1988-1989.
 
But while enlisted, Richardson was also officiating, working his way up from Virginia high schools to major college basketball conferences (Big East, SEC and Ohio Valley) to the point where he was on the NBA’s radar.
 
He enjoyed his time in the military and is quick to add that he would not trade those experiences, the lifelong friendships that he still maintains today, for anything.
 
Which made the decision to focus on officiating and not re-enlisting, a difficult one.
 
“It was tough,” Richardson admitted. “But I never looked back after making the decision. My faith in God and praying on it made me feel like I made the right decision when I came to the decision. Once I made it, I never looked back.”
 
Being decisive was just one of the many character traits, honed in his time in the Navy, that easily transitions to refereeing NBA games today.
 
And while he has been able to keep his military past separate from his day job, sports and the military have become hot-button topics lately in light of several NFL players' desire to raise awareness about inequality and police brutality by taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem before games.
 
Richardson acknowledged he has had conversations about the subject with fellow veterans.
 
“The flag is representative of the Constitution and the things we believe in,” Richardson said. “And while I absolutely will always stand for the flag and always salute the flag and always pledge allegiance, the flag protects people’s rights to not agree with everything that I might believe in personally. I think when you talk to people who served, they know that while we don’t always agree with what everyone does in protest, we actually fight for their right to disagree. That’s what the military stands for.”
 
And on this Veterans Day, we should all stand out of respect for Richardson and the many men and women who have fought to protect our rights and liberties in this country.

But if he missed a call (or at least you thought he missed a call), you had every reason to yell at him.
 
He has done this long enough (he joined the NBA staff in 1996) to know that it comes with the job, one he takes a tremendous pride in - just like when he served our country, with pride an honor, in the Navy.
 

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Celtics continue comeback narrative with win vs. Hawks

Celtics continue comeback narrative with win vs. Hawks

The Boston Celtics trail by double digits. The Celtics rally to make it relatively close by halftime. Boston continues to gain ground in the third, pull it out in the fourth.

Rinse. Recycle. Repeat.

That has been the Celtics’ mantra this season, with the latest chapter in their comeback narrative being a 110-99 win at Atlanta.

“We need to put an emphasis on playing with space and getting the ball to the other side of the floor,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. “It just stuck too much early on. We were staring at some post-ups that if we got it to the other side, maybe you could take advantage of.”

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Boston (15-2) fell behind by as many as 16 points against the Hawks (3-13), the second straight game the Celtics have rallied from a double-digit deficit.

In Boston’s 92-88 win over Golden State on Thursday, the Celtics fell behind by as many as 17 before rallying for their most impressive win of the season.

That said, it still shouldn’t take away from what happened on Saturday against an Atlanta team that despite their record, has shown signs of playing better in their recent games.

Players are aware of the penchant they’ve shown thus far for falling behind only to mount a furious comeback for the win.

“We don’t try to (go down early),” said Kyrie Irving following Saturday’s win which extended their winning streak to 15 straight which is the fifth-longest streak in franchise history. “Some teams, they go on runs and whether that be us giving up some easy ones or giving up some turnovers or doing things we can correct. When we do correct them, it turns into a different game.”

And that is what makes this stretch of play so impressive.

The Celtics have not played a full game; instead they have had stretches of good play that have often masked their mistakes early in the game.

That’s why head coach Brad Stevens, obviously pleased with the team’s success, knows as well as anyone that his team has to become more consistent in their play if they are to get the most out of these wins and continue to build off of them and achieve their ultimate goal – getting back to the NBA Finals.

“We’re going to keep playing,” Stevens said. “But the biggest thing is, we can’t keep digging these holes.”

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Stars, studs and duds: No lack of confidence for Brown

Stars, studs and duds: No lack of confidence for Brown

When it comes to the top backcourts in the NBA, you seldom hear about Kyrie Irving and Jaylen Brown.

That may soon be changing if they have more games like the one they delivered on Saturday as Boston put together a solid second half to pull away from the Atlanta Hawks, 110-99.

Irving had a game-high 30 points which was his second game with at least 30 points scored – both against Atlanta.

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And Brown, who had a strong 22-point performance in Boston’s win over Golden State on Thursday, was even better against the Hawks in tallying a career-high 27 points.

We all know about Irving who has established himself as one of the NBA’s top guards.

But is Brown on the way?

One thing Brown won’t have to develop going forward is, confidence.

He has long maintained that he believes he’ll be among the best in the league. It’s just a matter of him performing at a high level at both ends of the floor, consistently.

“I’ve always had that confidence, I can play with the best in the world,” Brown told NBC Sports Boston’s Abby Chin following the win over Atlanta which extended Boston’s winning streak to 15 in a row. “It’s just a matter of coming out, doing it. My teammates found me tonight. We had a good team win tonight.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 110-99 win at Atlanta which extended the Celtics’ winning streak to 15 in a row which is the fifth-longest winning streak in franchise history.

 

STARS

Jaylen Brown

Back in his home state of Georgia, Jaylen Brown delivered another monster game for the Celtics by scoring a career-high 27 points on 10-for-13 shooting with four 3-pointers.

Kyrie Irving

Irving had his most efficient game this season for the Celtics, tallying 30 points on 10-for-12 shooting to go with four rebounds and five assists.

Dennis Schroder

Atlanta’s best scorer delivering a strong 23-point, 9-assist performance for the Hawks.

 

STUDS

Jayson Tatum

He only had 14 points, but they all came in the third quarter and they included a few crowd-quieting dunks.

John Collins

He came into the league with the reputation of being a high motor player, and he has not disappointed. His hustle and energy led to him tallying 18 points and seven rebounds.

Marcus Morris

When the offense struggled mightily in the first half, it was Morris’ scoring that kept them within striking distance. He finished with 14 points, 10 of which came in the second quarter.

Kent Bazemore

He was Atlanta’s number two scoring option most of the night, and finished with 19 points.

 

DUDS

Boston’s first quarter defense

The Celtics can’t keep digging themselves these early holes, expecting they will turn it on and find a way to climb out of them. The Hawks led 35-20, fueled in large part by shooting 64.7 percent (11-for-17) in addition to out-rebounding Boston 8-6.

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