Celtics guard Terry Rozier has spent the summer preparing for the rigors of his rookie season. But none of the training was related to piloting a canoe in Boston Harbor.
On Thursday afternoon, Rozier took a 30-minute ferry ride to Camp Harbor View, a program for at-risk youth held at Long Island. And when three children and an instructor invited Rozier onto their canoe for a quick ride, he accepted despite his reluctance.
As he removed his dark sandals and socks, someone asked if he was a little nervous.
“A lot nervous,” Rozier said, smiling.
Before long, though, he was about 100 yards offshore, pleased he had gotten his feet wet by, well, getting his feet wet. Although his visit was brief, his presence piqued the interest of some campers.
Several boys told him they could beat him in a game of one-on-one. Another asked him to settle an argument about who was the better Golden State Warrior, guard Stephen Curry — the NBA MVP — or forward Andre Iguodala, the Finals MVP.
“That’s not even close,” Rozier said, presumably giving the nod to Curry.
A few feet away, a group of girls asked to take a picture with Rozier.
“He’s so cute,” one told her friend.
Rozier took the picture, and before long, he was back on the big boat and headed to the airport.
He has yet to play a regular-season game as a Celtic, and most of the children seemed unfamiliar with him. But Rozier is determined to make a name for himself in this city, and determined to do it quickly.
“I just need to find ways to stay on the floor and play,” he said. “I want to push the pace and defensively step up. I like to play a fast tempo and just want to help this team go, make them go, be that spark plug.”
Rozier was widely projected to be taken near the end of the first round of the NBA Draft. When the Celtics selected him at No. 16, there were groans and boos at the team’s draft party for season-ticket holders.
But Celtics coaches and executives praised Rozier’s toughness, competitiveness, and defense, and during summer league play last month, he showed flashes of all three.
He averaged 12.2 points, 3.9 assists, and 3 rebounds, helping Boston win five of its last six games. In a July 16 matchup against the Blazers — with star guard Marcus Smart sidelined with a hand injury — Rozier scored 8 points in the final 52 seconds to lead a comeback win.
“I think I grew a lot out there, just seeing the spacing and learning to play with a different pace at this level,” Rozier said. “I’m a fast learner, so to meet people and be in that environment was special, because I learned a lot and got better.”
Many of the top summer league players sat out at least one game to rest. Smart, for example, missed two games before being injured. Celtics coaches offered Rozier a chance to sit out, but he made it clear that was not his preference, and so he played on.
But by the time the summer leagues concluded, Rozier said, the tendinitis in his knees, an issue since his time at Louisville, had flared up. So he took the next two weeks off, except for some brief workouts on exercise bikes. Although he feels fine now, the experience served as a teachable moment in a season that will be full of them.
“I probably let my competitiveness take over, and sometimes that can be a good thing and sometimes that can be a bad thing,” Rozier said. “In the next level, you see just how important it is every second to take care of your body. Of course I didn’t want to sit out those two weeks [after summer league]. I wanted to be in the gym working. But it was good for me.”