(Ed. Note: Our newest author, Jim Toscano was at the Daniels' press conference, his recap follows. -G17)
By Jim Toscano
A half hour west of Boston's TD Garden lays the Sports Authority Training Center at HealthPoint. Inside is where you'll find an organization dedicated to winning championships. Today, Marquis Daniels was introduced there as the newest member of that organization, the Boston Celtics.
The press conference was delayed for about an hour and a half, but after waiting almost eight weeks for the official signing, what's another hour or so? Besides, we knew that Daniels had verbally committed to the press conference already, so it was just a matter of time before he got there. (Editor: the announcement was delayed due to a contract "snag" per the Globe)
"I'm very happy to be here and finally get it done. Seemed like it was a long wait but I'm glad to be here and hopefully bring in banner 18 and get things going," Daniels said to members of the press upon arrival.
While it has been eight weeks in waiting for Celtics fans to get Marquis Daniels on this team, for Danny Ainge it has been much longer. "I went and watched him play in his first summer league game and I said, ‘dang how did we miss that guy?' ten minutes into the game," Ainge said.
Daniels is coming off the best year of his career in which he averaged 13.6 points and 2.1 assists. After trying and failing to make a sign and trade deal, Ainge signed Daniels for the biannual exception in which he will be paid roughly $2 million this year.
"I had other situations where I could have went and made more money but I wanted to be a part of a great franchise and a winning franchise," said Daniels. "It's a great team and a great atmosphere, with guys who want to win, and that's something that I want to be a part of."
In a time where players are being offered max contracts, and taking more money to play on sub-par teams, it is refreshing to hear a player say that he took less money to come here because he wants to win. It is that mentality that turns a very good team into the best team.
Daniels' versatility is the most valuable asset he brings to the team. He first played point guard in high school. In college he played power forward and small forward, before returning back to the guard position in the NBA.
"He can handle the ball, he can score the ball, he can defend, he can defend multiple positions, and he allows the coach to play a lot of different combinations," Ainge said of Daniels. "I can see him playing in big lineups actually being a backup point with a big front line, and I can also see him playing some small forward in smaller lineups."
Just down the stairs and around the corner from the press conference is the basketball court where the team practices. On the walls surrounding the court are eighteen banners, that's right- eighteen. Hanging right next to the one that reads "Boston Celtics 2008 World Champions" is one more banner. It's the same size and has that same Celtic Green trim as the rest of them. The difference? It's blank.
It's up to this Celtics team to fill in that banner. Here's to seeing the nineteenth banner in here next year.