There are a lot of reasons to really like Celtics rookie Jared Sullinger. He seems like a good kid, humble, willing to work hard and very coachable. As a basketball player, he's not flashy or uber-athletic, but he has all the fundamentals down. He was red flagged in the draft and could have let that affect his attitude in a negative direction, but he didn't. He just worked harder and even though it led to a drop from the lottery to #21, he was happy with being selected by the Celtics and vows to work his hardest there.
Then there's the story from the Herald that talks about how Sully learned the value of being a good teammate. His dad was his coach in high school where he compiled a 94-3 record over his high school career.
But one of those rare losses had a lasting impact on Sullinger.
Northland (his high school) was undefeated during Sullinger’s sophomore season and advanced to the district semifinals. Any thoughts of a state title came to an abrupt end when Satch benched Jared for failing to complete a homework assignment. Northland lost the game, but Jared gained perspective.
“It teaches you accountability. So many of these young guys nowadays, it’s all about me. They never take time to figure out how they affect others,” Satch said. “When he didn’t do his work and he forced me to make the program stand for something, he realized it didn’t just affect him, it affected others. He started to really understand what team concepts really are. He let his team down during that period of time over something he had total control over.”
What a great lesson Satch taught his son. And very impressive that Jared took the lesson to heart rather than pouting over it and becoming bitter. Today, Jessica Camerato has an article about how Jared has vowed to stay tattoo free and I can tell you I love this kid. But, the reason has nothing to do with the tattoos or lack of them. Instead, it's his reason for staying tattoo free that has caught my heart.
“No tattoos,” he recently told CSNNE.com. “I promised my mother. You know if you break a promise, you’re not going to be living for the next days (laughs). I want to live as long as I can, so I’m not going to break that promise.”
He made a promise to his mother and he aims to keep it. As a mother, a boy who loves his mother is absolutely a heart grabber for me. And, the promise to stay tattoo free isn't the only promise he made to his mother that he's working to fulfill.
The ink he wants to show her will be on his college diploma. Sullinger left Ohio State after his sophomore year and plans to complete his degree online. He took one course this summer while preparing to start his NBA career.
“I want my degree in sports management,” Sullinger said. “I go back to school because I promised my mother I would finish. Again, you know how that goes with mothers. You promise, you better fulfill.”
Ok, this is a double whammy for me. As a teacher, his commitment to getting his diploma and taking classes in the off-season is another heart grabber for me. Sully seems to have every base covered when it comes to getting my attention. Hard worker. Check. Fundamentally sound basketball player. Check. Great attitude. Check. Nice guy. Check. Respects his daddy. Check. Loves his mother. Check. Takes education seriously. Check. Those are all old school values and Sully has them all.
You know who also had all these same qualities? Larry Bird. He was one of the hardest workers the league has ever known. He was also one of the most fundamentally sound players the league has ever known. He had a great attitude when it came to playing the game and being coachable and also in life. He loved and respected his mother and grandmother and father. And he took his education seriously, going back to school and getting his degree before entering the NBA. And you know why he did? He promised his mother he'd get his degree and figured that if he went to the NBA first, he wouldn't finish. And, both Larry and Sully have stated that they watch the trajectory of the ball on a shot to know where it would come off the rim for the rebound, which is important since neither is a leaper. I know we can't compare Larry to Sully because there will never, ever be another Larry Bird. But the same small town values and old school attitudes are in play here and I love the parallels. Or, maybe I'm just starved for basketball and need the season to start already!!
FL, can't imagine you missed this (you never miss anything, in fact I probably found it due to your links) but a metrowest article on Jared captures some powerful points to hope/expect good things will come from Sullinger. http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/news/x345286713/Celtics-Sullinger-old-acquaintances-with-Framinghams-Clouse?zc_p=1
Thanks Lee. Great article. Some days I don't get to read any of the articles because of stuff going on and it's all I can do to get the links up. That was probably one of those days. Thanks for pointing it out.