Jared Sullinger wasn’t done yet. He still has more he wants to say on the issue of tanking.
“I’m very insulted that people think that,” the Celtics forward said Tuesday before his team defeated the Milwaukee Bucks, 108-100, at TD Garden to improve to 8-12.
“We work too hard to just play for another year. It’s almost like a business. Why not come out with new schemes, and try to make your product that much better by selling people and playing hard? But don’t plan for the following year. That’s something I don’t believe in, I’ll never believe in. Just play hard every day and that’s what we’ve been doing.”
There is a segment of fans that has bemoaned every Celtics win, preferring instead that the team lose — on purpose if need be — to try and obtain a top pick in what appears to be a star-studded 2014 NBA draft.
Overall, it’s an issue that has surrounded several rebuilding teams since before the season began, and it remains a topic that players have addressed directly or indirectly multiple times.
Sullinger has made it a point to continually share his opinion on “tanking,” even if he wasn’t asked. The second-year forward out of Ohio State made his strongest comments yet Monday by saying that those who believe the Celtics should tank “can kiss our butts.”
But Sullinger, who clearly takes the issue very personally, again stepped to the pulpit a day later to make more passionate comments about his anti-tanking stance.
“I know the guys we put on the floor every night come to play hard,” said Sullinger, who had 12 points and eight rebounds. “If we’re not going to play hard, I’m pretty sure [coach Brad Stevens is] going to take us off the floor. We’re all out here trying to compete, trying to win. That’s our goal.”
Still, tanking figures to be a topic that the Celtics won’t escape anytime soon.
“As grown men, we play hard, we fight for what we want,” Sullinger said. “And we’re doing it for the guys on this team. And for everybody outside the circle, we could [not] care less.
“We’re going to fight and work hard.”
If the Celtics finish with a strong record and end up having a draft pick that is later in the first round, Sullinger is confident that they still can acquire an impact player.
“You can look at somebody like [Rajon] Rondo or Courtney [Lee], guys that got picked late. Now look at them,” Sullinger said. It’s motivation, you want to prove everybody wrong. ‘You should have picked me, you should have taken me higher.’ ”
Sullinger is speaking from experience, as he has that same motivation after falling to the 21st overall pick in the 2012 draft.
“All the stuff I heard coming out of college — ‘I’m not athletic enough, I’m not big enough to play a certain position. I’m not quick enough’ — that’s just one of my motivations to prove everybody wrong.”
And Sullinger said the people who don’t want the Celtics to reach the postseason are “the same guys laughing at us that said we were only going to win five games this year.”
Sullinger also has a message for those fans:
“If we win, don’t jump on the bandwagon now. We don’t want wishy-washy fans.”
In the first quarter, Avery Bradley hit a shot that became the buzz of the Internet.
Sullinger was asked if he’d ever seen anything like it.
“Larry Bird,” Sullinger said.
That seemed to be the only thing that came close — and not because of the Celtics connection.
Bradley’s was a high-arching shot from behind the backboard he shot with less than a second on the shot clock. He was drifting out of bounds after grabbing an air ball by Sullinger.
The ball splashed through the net, bringing his teammates off the bench and the fans out of their seats.
“Honestly, that was just a lucky shot,” Bradley said. “I didn’t even know how much time was left. I just wanted to get the shot up . . . I heard my teammates yelling, so I just threw it up.”
It was also reminiscent of Bird in a preseason game in 1986, when he made a shot from almost directly behind the backboard.
Like the old days
The second-quarter slam dunk was vintage Gerald Wallace.
The 31-year-old turned back the clock to throw down a soaring one-handed slam in the lane, remaining elevated for quite some time, as he used to do.
“I don’t know what happened on that one,” Wallace said with a smile. “Don’t get used to that. That was a spur of the moment type thing. I just happened to dunk it. I didn’t realize I was that high.”
Up for an award
Forward Kelly Olynyk was nominated for Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for October/November, an honor that went to Philadelphia point guard (and Hamilton native) Michael Carter-Williams. Olynyk, the Celtics’ 2013 first-round draft pick, was one of three nominees for the honor after averaging 7.5 points and 5.4 rebounds over 22.6 minutes per game before suffering a right ankle sprain that has forced him to miss the last five games. Carter-Williams, the 11th pick in the draft, led all rookies in scoring (17.2 points per game), assists (7.3), steals (2.92), and minutes (36.2). The other nominee was Sacramento’s Ben McLemore, who is averaging 9.1 points per game in 22.8 minutes.