Hard work takes Wilcox from tobacco fields to Garden


Hard work takes Wilcox from tobacco fields to Garden

Chris Wilcox isnt afraid of hard work.

Growing up in Whiteville, North Carolina, it was the only option.

I worked in the fields and did everything, Wilcox told Im a country boy. I picked tobacco. We had dogs chasing hogs back. We had everything. You name it, I did it.

The Boston Celtics power forward was raised in a family with a strong work ethic. His mother, Debra Brown, was as a corrections officer and worked in the prisons for nearly 30 years and his father, Raymond Wilcox, recently retired from his job at a federal penitentiary.

I knew how to work for mine, he said. I never wanted something to be given because I always could work for it.

Wilcox began working when he was around 11 years old. Before he was pulling down rebounds, he was hanging tobacco. Before he was protecting the paint, he was protecting himself from animals he encountered in the barns.

I was in the country, so it wasnt even a town, Wilcox said. Tobacco fields and all that all the way around. Everywhere around me, it was all farm land. You could easily get work. The main thing in North Carolina was tobacco. School wouldnt even be in yet if the tobacco wasnt out of the fields, they would push school back.

I picked tobacco. I hung tobacco in the barn. In tobacco fields, a tobacco barn isnt anything but a barn in the middle of the field thats just been sitting there. So when you open the door, you could see anything in there. If you saw a snake you had to kill it, but I never messed around with snakes. Thats when you get the big rats, everything.

In addition to working with tobacco, Wilcox and his friends asked neighbors if they needed their lawns cut or other odd jobs done around their homes and on their land.

We used to have dogs in the neighborhood to chase the pigs back when they get out, he said. Theyd give us five dollars if you bring your dog up there and chase the hogs back into the pen. Im deep down in the country.

One of Wilcoxs earliest jobs involved going around to local schools, helping to barrel old milk, and then pouring it into buckets to feed the pigs. It wasnt glamorous -- and it didnt always smell great -- but it was how he and his friends spent many of their days growing up.

Everybody in the neighborhood, we would work, he said. Anything we could do in the neighborhood, thats what we did.

This season Wilcox is looking to work as hard in Boston as he did back in Whiteville. After suffering a shoulder injury, he is looking to turn around a slow start. He is averaging just 2.4 rebounds per game -- the least since his rookie year -- and a career-low 1.4 points per game off the Celtics bench.

But the big man who learned to drive on his uncles tractor is driven to succeed. He returns to his hometown every summer, remembers where he came from, and tells himself to keep going further.

It showed me what Ive been through and that nothing is ever given to you, Wilcox said. When times get rough, I just look back.

Gostkowski named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week


Gostkowski named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week

FOXBORO -- Stephen Gostkowski is almost 34 years old, but in Mexico City he provided a reminder that he's not slowing down in his 12th NFL season. 

After going four-for-four on field goals -- including a team-record 62-yarder, a 51-yarder and a 40-yarder -- and making all three of his extra points, Gostkowski was named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week for the sixth time in his career. 

During a press conference on Wednesday, Bill Belichick explained that someone in Gostkowski's situation probably isn't improving at this point in his career. But if he's maintaining a strong level of play, that's OK. 

"I don’t know how much real improvement you’re going to see from a player that’s been in the league 12 or 20 years in a case like Adam [Vinatieri] or somebody like that," Belichick said. "But, if the level they’re performing at is pretty good, if they can maintain that, then that’s certainly enough to help the team.

"Are there things that a player can do better? Yeah, sure, there always are technique things. I think Steve has really improved in some of his alternative kicks on kickoffs, as an example, instead of just kicking every ball as far as he can. He’s done a great job of that. I’d say it’s maintaining the timing and the overall leg speed and technique that makes kickers good at their job."

Bruins hope to keep cooking with a winning recipe


Bruins hope to keep cooking with a winning recipe

The Bruins seemed to discover a winning formula on the West Coast. Now the challenge is to keep it going.

It took them more than a month of play in the regular season, but they finally won two games in a row. Anton Khudobin and the B's played strong defense and finally built leads against the Kings and Sharks, and they avoided the kind of soft goal or defensive mistake that has been at the heart of so many of their losses.

Clearly that kind of tight, defensive game is how they're going have to play until they get their full lineup back, and they need plenty of wins. They're currently stuck in 13th place in the Eastern Conference, three points out of a playoff spot.

"It's always nice to get a couple of wins, especially against tough teams," said David Krejci, who is scoreless but averaging almost 17 minutes of ice time  in the two games since returning from a back injury. "We knew we had some areas of our game that we had to improve, and we still do after the start to the game we had against San Jose. It's nice to get two in a row, and we're focusing on three in [New Jersey]. We're building toward something, and we're on the right track. It's a big game [against the Devils].

"Playing with a lead, playing good defensively and having a good, structured game with everybody buying in . . . when you have a young team and you're playing strong clubs like LA and San Jose, it really says a lot about what we're trying to do here when you can get the job done."

The good news is the Bruins are going to make it through the Thanksgiving marker within shouting distance of a playoff spot, but they're still just scratching the surface of what they need to do to stay relevant in the East. They're hoping that finally reeling off a couple of consecutive wins can start a run of good hockey at a time when they desperately need it.

"I think we've played as a five-man unit" said Kevan Miller. "Forwards are getting back to help the 'D', and defensemen are stepping up to help the forwards. When you play like that and everybody is on the same page, it makes it that much easier. I think everybody, whether you're coming from Providence or you're up here, has played the same systems, but it can be a little bit of a struggle to get everybody on the same page.

"We've done a pretty good job of that, but doing it for 60 minutes has been a bit of an issue. We're trying to work on that."