Bench worth a look

In reality, Celtics have quite a cast

By Julian Benbow
Globe Staff / October 9, 2010

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If it ever happens — if VH1 ever has some space to fill between the T.O. and Ochocinco shows — know that it was the brainchild of Nate Robinson. He was executive producer, if you will.

It was Robinson who surveyed the characters in the Celtics locker room, saw the perfect cast, and declared, “We should have our own reality show.’’

All the elements are there. Comedy. Drama. Suspense.

The cast is all lined up, too. To a reality show T.

There’s the prankster, Robinson, the 5-foot-9-inch slam dunk champion who also has a black belt in the art of practical jokes.

There’s Shaquille O’Neal, the guy with too much personality to fit in one room. The 7-1, 325-pound icon is a pitchman for everything, from Double Stuf Oreos on up (and he gets points for already having his own reality show).

There’s the full-time hooper, part-time rapper, Marquis Daniels, the way-too-quiet house member.

There’s Glen Davis, the youngster still trying to find his way in the world. When he’s not doing the Dougie, you can find him on Ustream, dancing shirtless and eating chocolate cereal out of what looks big enough to be a salad bowl. Of course, if the show gets picked up for another season, there’s a chance that Davis (in his contract year) might not return.

Count Turkish center Semih Erden and it’s a foreign film. Count Delonte West, who signed with the Celtics this summer after a season plagued by legal trouble, and it’s a redemption story.

“The Real World — Waltham.’’

The show would land somewhere between actual reality TV and a Dave Chappelle sketch. And with the wild mesh of personalities, there is train-wreck potential, which the Celtics realize.

Like every reality cast, they know people are waiting to see them implode. They’ve heard people on the outside describe the mix of personalities as combustible. Celtics coach Doc Rivers said, “I think they want to work this out.’’

At some point, the sideshow will have to give way to the main goal. Rivers is counting on this year’s bench to not only preserve the starters but also to win some games. At times last season, mostly because of injury, Rivers shrunk his rotation to seven players, giving up wins to keep key players healthy.

But there also were times such as Game 5 of the Finals, when Robinson and Davis came off the bench and pushed the Celtics to one of their biggest wins.

When Tony Allen left as a free agent in the offseason (he was tired of playing a supporting role), the Celtics lost a player who had been on Rivers’s bench for six years.

Now they’ll have to find new chemistry.

“We’ve got to jell, that’s what we’ve got to work on,’’ said Davis. “We’ve got to work together and try to get a rhythm. We’re going to be big down the road and in the playoffs. It’s a different team, with a different bench squad. We’ve just got to work on a rhythm.’’

West and Robinson have already started. According to Rivers, their personalities somehow balance each other out.

“Delonte’s the calm one,’’ Rivers said.

West will miss the first 10 games, serving a suspension stemming from weapons charges a year ago, and Rivers is already dreading it.

“That’s a huge concern for us because he’s huge for our bench,’’ said the coach.

For West, missing the little things will take a toll.

“It’s only two weeks, but that’s a lot of games that I’m going to miss,’’ West said. “I have to be out of the locker room and out of the arena two hours before games, and those are the most important things: pregames, when guys are warming up, the first speech that Doc’s going to give before Game 1. Those are the things that I’m going to miss, and those are the important things.’’

A player who sees himself benefiting from the changes is Daniels. He started last season as a go-to guy off the bench, but ended up in the doghouse, falling out of Rivers’s rotation. With West and Robinson in the backcourt, Daniels won’t have to worry about handling the ball and can explore other facets of his game, whether it’s running the floor or posting up more.

“That’ll help out a lot, just getting to run the floor with Delonte and Nate pushing the ball up,’’ Daniels said. “And even sometimes I can bring the ball up. It opens things up for everyone.’’

Whether it’s the truth or whether it’s coachspeak, Rivers believes this bench is better than any of the second units he’s had in Boston — “on paper.’’

“But on paper and in the games are two different things,’’ Rivers said. “There’s a lot of good things with that unit; unfortunately, they’ve got to play in games and we’ve got to see.’’

However the show plays out, it will be compelling. But Paul Pierce believes there is already enough drama in just trying to win a championship.

“This is my reality show,’’ he said.

Julian Benbow can be reached at

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