When your General Manager selected Jared Sullinger from The Ohio State University with the 21st overall selection of Thursday night’s draft, he did well for the city of Boston, Massachusetts and for you beloved Celtics fans.
Never mind that Jared isn’t a high-flyer or a highlight reel waiting to happen. Forget for a moment that he’s only 6’9” and isn’t built with the body of a Karl Malone. He’s far more Big Baby Davis than he is Big Ticket, and you’re going to have to come to terms with the fact that he won’t make the SportsCenter Top-10 on very many nights in his career. No, those ten spots are reserved for Blake Griffin dunks, LeBron James passes and Kevin Durant game-winners. Jared probably won’t give you or ESPN much of anything on that prerequisite list, but Danny did well in selecting him to your team.
With Jared you’re getting a number of things added to your franchise, not least of which is his Lottery-pick talent. As you’ve heard through the media in recent weeks, he has some back issues. Sounds like a disc problem, right? Yeah. That’s a tough break against such a promising young talent. Some doctors have said it could very well shorten his career, which is how he dropped all the way into your lap with the 21st pick. I’m not all that worried though, but maybe you are. Did you know your own head coach Doc Rivers played thirteen of his fifteen seasons in the NBA with a herniated disc in his back?
If Kevin Garnett decides today that’s he’s going to come back and give your city one more run at a title before he drops the mic and walks off stage, he’ll have a lot to teach Jared. Keep in mind they’re not only from two different molds from a physical standpoint, but polar opposites personality-wise as well. I’m sure KG will still scream at you guys during the pregame with an intensity like no other, and then bang his head on the basket support just seconds before tip-off, but you won’t see the same out of Jared. I promise the first time he sees that pregame act in person it’ll give him a little laugh. He’s a fan of that intensity, but he won’t express it for you that way. No, he’s more laid back. Where KG likes to play the role of the celebrity, Jared is more kid than Kardashian. He just wants to play basketball.
But I’ll give you fair warning, Boston fans: Jared won’t like Rajon Rondo scowling at him when he throws him a highlight reel, behind-the-back pass and watches it bounce through his hands and tumble over the baseline for a turnover. He’ll accept that that’s who his new point guard is, often unhappy with someone else, but he won’t return the favor with any drama of his own. He’s the ultimate team guy. He’ll learn from the mistake and it’s not likely that you’ll see him make the same one twice. He’ll perform better the next time it comes his way, but not because of Rondo’s stink-eye. He’ll learn because he has pride. He’ll learn because he wants to be accountable to his teammates. He’ll learn because he wants to master his craft. He’ll learn because he never stops grinding. Boston fans, you’re getting a worker.
And pardon the pun, but do you want The Truth? Paul Pierce will love Jared and embrace his arrival. When he was still young and spry and making his arrival in Boston by way of the Jayhawks he was athletic enough to raise a few eyebrows, but he wasn’t the guy we were all clamoring to get into the Sprite Slam Dunk. Pierce built a Hall of Fame career on strength, basketball intelligence and the ability to use both to create space to get his shot off against superior athleticism. He became a master of it, so much so that he’s now in the back half of his career and still competing with the best in the game on most nights. Jared Sullinger will carve a similar path, more so out of necessity from the outset. He’s not a sprinter or a leaper, but he’s smart, understands the game, will learn from every experience and he’ll use his now-famous rear end to create whatever space he needs to be successful in the paint. He’s begun to develop a nice little mid-range jump shot too, and if you haven’t heard, your coach happens to like it. Paul is now the savvy vet. Sully is a sponge. I suspect Pierce will be quite the source for your new rookie.
So what are you getting? First and foremost, Danny Ainge has drafted loyalty into the franchise whether he realizes it yet or not. Sullinger grew up in Columbus, playing for city league Northland High School before choosing the home town Buckeyes to play his college ball. When his freshman year was up and it was time for the projected lottery pick to make a decision, he chose Columbus over a signing bonus. He came back to clean up unfinished business and try to earn his city a National Championship. He ultimately fell short but led our Buckeyes to a Final Four we wouldn’t have likely seen had he gone pro a year prior. He’ll love your city too. Not because of the parquet floor or the history of the franchise, but because your favorite organization gave him his shot at a professional career after twenty other teams passed. I imagine Sully will stay in Boston for as long as you’ll have him. That’s just who he is. You’ll never see him on an ESPN Special to announce what he’s going to do as a free agent. Hell, he committed to his sophomore season at Ohio State from the losing locker room after being shown the door from the NCAA Tournament against Kentucky as a freshman. He’s a man of his word, and he’s loyal to those who are loyal to him. You’ll receive the same treatment in Boston from Jared as we did in Columbus – and you’ll ultimately love him just like we do.
Sully is our native son. He’ll always be beloved in Columbus, OH for what he did for Ohio State basketball and the community we all love and support. He was dedicated to the city, the fans and his craft. You’re about to add one hell of a basketball talent – and an even better young man – when Jared sets foot in your TD Garden Arena for the first time as a Celtic. He won’t disappoint you, I promise. He’ll love his employers. He’ll love his teammates. He’ll love you fans. And he’ll work his ass off to make you proud. But don’t get any thoughts of adopting him away from his Columbus family. No matter what successes he helps to bring to the city of Boston, he’s on loan. Remember that and enjoy him while he’s there. I believe you’ll have plenty of years to do so.