2011-12-14 / Sports

Celtic vets dealing with 2nd lockout of careers

BY HOWARD ULMAN The Associated Press

WALTHAM, Mass.

If experience counts, the Boston Celtics should have an edge coming out of the lockout. Four of their players have been through two of them.

Kevin Garnett already had played three seasons when his first NBA lockout began on July 1, 1998. Ray Allen and Jermaine O’Neal were two-year veterans. And Paul Pierce was looking forward to his first season after being taken with the 10th pick in the draft.

That lockout lasted 204 days, ended on Jan. 20, 1999, and shortened the regular season to 50 games. This year’s lockout was shorter, allowing the league to put together a 66-game schedule. But with fewer off days than usual, it will take a toll on players’ bodies. So Allen, 36, made sure he reported for the opening of camp last Friday in excellent shape.

He wasn’t worried that the Celtics would have that problem this year.

But there’s a difference between jogging on a treadmill and running up and down the court.

When coach Doc Rivers held a scrimmage Monday, he knew his players were in no condition to keep hustling for an extended period.

Garnett, 35, was just 22 when the previous lockout began. He already had been to two All- Star games in three seasons.

Then he was slammed by the reality that basketball is more than just a game.

“Experience is everything,” he said. “The second time I was a lot more prepared, not just mentally, but I was prepared from a business standpoint to understand the business of basketball and how it went, understanding the negotiating, understanding timing, understanding tactics, understanding the tricks ... that come with all of it. And the patience.

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