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Celtics energize CEO Grousbeck

WYC GROUSBECKEvery game has playoff feel WYC GROUSBECKEvery game has playoff feel
By Nancy Marrapese-Burrell
Globe Staff / November 28, 2008
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As much as the fans are enjoying the success of the Celtics, few people are as thrilled with the start of the 2008-09 season as the team's managing partner, governor, and chief executive officer Wyc Grousbeck.

Grousbeck - who will appear on "Celtics Now" on Comcast SportsNet tonight at 6 on a panel with Chris Mannix, the national NBA writer for Sports Illustrated, and Super Fan Marty Joyce prior to the game against Philadelphia at TD Banknorth Garden - said the players have picked up right where they left off from their 2008 NBA championship.

"What has struck me the most is that the guys are focused in and bringing a lot of energy," said Grousbeck. "And they have to because everybody is coming after us so hard this year. I'm just amazed by how pumped teams are to play us and how badly they want to beat us.

"It feels like a playoff game almost every single game. It's exhausting, quite honestly. I think the team has gotten tired, but they've made it through with a [remarkable] record, but it's been tiring and exhausting and I'm amazed at how well they've done."

The trick will be sustaining it over the long haul. They were able to do it last season, but Grousbeck said there is even more pressure this time around.

"It was 116 games we played last year, which was an NBA record," said Grousbeck. "So to come off a year with that many games and be required to play at this intensity level right off the bat, opening the season against LeBron [James] and moving on from there, I'm not complaining, but I am worried."

The saving grace has been the Celtics' bench. Grousbeck said if the bench can continue to step up, the starters will be able to stay fresher.

"That's the only way we get through this thing," said Grousbeck.

Grousbeck is impressed with the early play of Tony Allen.

"For the fan who really follows the team, that fan is going to know that Tony is the key because he's probably our best defender," Grousbeck said. "He can be a huge part of the offense and he's been doing both, so that's a real key for us. He was a free agent, we re-signed him, and for him to have this kind of start to the season [is impressive]."

One of the strengths of the squad is that the star trio of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen shares the workload.

"The Big Three have made it about everybody else," said Grousbeck. "If you're not paying attention, you're going to get hit with the ball in your nose because it's coming to you. The Big Three is all about passing and rebounding and team defense as much as their own scoring."

Grousbeck has heard from fans around the world who have thanked him for the style the team plays.

"They said, 'The way you guys won, it's the way basketball is supposed to be played and you brought the NBA back where it used to be,' " he said. "I've heard that from a lot of people and it really makes me proud."

The Celtics' broadcast partner, CSN, has done a strong job of educating fans about the players on and off the court.

"The new management and the new approach to the games has been really phenomenal," said Grousbeck. "They are always open to our suggestions and ideas. They come up with ideas as well. The whole key is the fans know everybody on our roster now and that's what makes it work."

Starting something

NESN debuts an original show entitled, "The Instigators," Thursday at 6 p.m. The format will have Mike Milbury, Andy Brickley, and Jack Edwards debating the NHL's issues of the day. All three are knowledgeable, opinionated, and not afraid of stirring things up . . . The Bruins take on the Islanders today at noon at TD Banknorth Garden, unveiling their third jersey, then host the Stanley Cup champion Red Wings tomorrow at 7 p.m. Both games are on NESN . . . On Sunday in men's basketball, NESN has No. 1-ranked North Carolina hosting UNC-Asheville at 6:30 p.m. . . . Tonight at 9, the NFL Network will rebroadcast last year's meeting between the Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings in anticipation of Sunday night's matchup (Channel 7, 8:15). Last year, Adrian Peterson of the Vikings rushed for 224 yards and three touchdowns, setting a franchise record for rushing yards in a game. The Bears tied the score in the fourth quarter on an 81-yard touchdown by wide receiver/kick returner Devin Hester, but Vikings kicker Ryan Longwell won it with a 55-yard field goal as time expired, giving Minnesota a 34-31 victory at Soldier Field.

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