One-on-One with Vin Baker
After nine seasons in the NBA, Vin Baker is coming home to New England. A native of Connecticut and '93 graduate of the University of Hartford, will don the green and white this season and patrol the paint for the Boston Celtics.
Baker is a seasoned veteran forward who will add a post presence to the Celtics' lineup, as well as some offensive punch. Baker has a career scoring average of 16.9 points per game, including 14.1 last season. He will also improve the team's rebounding with his size and skills; he averaged 6.4 rebounds per game last season.
A No. 8 pick overall in the 1993 NBA Draft, Baker quickly flourished and was named to the All-Rookie First Team in 1993-94. Since then, he has been named to four All-Star teams and has won a gold medal with the U.S. Olympic team at the 2000 Olympics.
In conjunction with the upcoming launch of 2002-03 Celtics individual game ticket sales, Baker chatted online on Thursday, September 19. See what he had to say abou this new team, his offseason and regimen and more.
Jerry (New York): Vin - It will be great to see you in a Celtics uniform! How well do you think you fit in with the offensive and defensive style of the Celtics?
Vin Baker: I think I'll fit in great. I think being in Seattle for the last five years, the up and down pace that I got adapted to, I think this style of the Celtics is similar. I think the Celtics recently have been like a West Coast team. I think I'll adapt quickly on the defensive and offensive end.
Mike, Braintree MA: Vin, Do you expect to play at center with Battie at the PF? Or are you going to play PF and Battie the C?
Vin Baker: I think I'm going to be able to play both positions. I'm not sure what Coach O'Brien's thoughts are. But I think the work we've done in the last two months in Boston and the experience I have, it won't matter. I think this team is going to create so many matchup problems, I think it's not really going to matter which position or label any player will be given.
Mac Barnes (Boston): How many seats have you had to buy for friends and family now that you are back in Boston?
Vin Baker: Well, when I was coming into Boston with the Sonics, I've gotten up to about 300 seats on a particular night. That number will be going down dramatically. I'll be working for about 20 or 25. I don't want to invest my whole contract in tickets. (laughs)
Cbee (Burlington, VT): Mr Baker, How do you see Antoine, Paul and yourself mixing together on the court this coming season ? Should we start calling you guys: "The NEW Big Three?" Good Luck this year !!! Go Celtics !!!
Vin Baker: Thank you first. I see myself, Antoine and Paul mixing well. They're two of your young stars in the league, and I just want to help them. They accomplished a great feat last year. I want to come in and fit in with those two guys. I'm not here to put up a lot of shots or put up big numbers. I'm here to help them to accomplish something they've already started toward. That's one thing I want to make sure I let them know in training camp. That's the reason they brought me here.
Ron Flanders (Solana Beach, CA): Vin, those of us in Celtic Nation are probably unfairly pinning all of our hopes on your resurgence as an NBA All-Star. First, what do you think of this pressure, and second, are you planning on returning to Milwaukee form this season? Thanks in advance for the answer.
Vin Baker: I think the work that I've put in in the last two months and my faith and ability ... those things combined I think is going to make for a wonderful situation. I really do believe this whole situation is God-sent. I've worked hard to get back in the best shape I could possibly be in. Last year, before I dislocated my three toes, I felt like I had a great season. I'm excited and motivated being back home. I'm in great shape. My ability and my desire to be an All-Star and my hope for the team to succeed is here.
Wally (San Fran): Hey Vin, Do you think Shammond Williams can be a starting PG in the NBA? And what kind of game will he bring to the Celtics?
Vin Baker: I really think Shammond can be a starting PG in this league. In the press conference, I talked about Shammond being one of the better shooters in this league. I compared him to Eric Snow. He never got a chance to play in Seattle because he was behind Gary. And I think Shammond has an even greater advantage offensively. I think he has a wonderful opportunity here in Boston.
Matt(Boston): Vin, Are you excited to enter "the Jungle" as the Fleetcenter was so properly named during last seasons C's playoff run?
Vin Baker: I'm very excited to enter the Jungle. I watched when the Celtics played the Nets in the playoffs, and it was an exciting gym. I'm excited to be in the Jungle with the Celtics. I certainly wouldn't want to come in with another team. And I think my father is excited to be in the Jungle. I think he's going to have a little Tarzan in him.
Wally (San Fran): Hey Vin, How do you feel about the history of the Celtics and the legacy that comes with putting on that uniform?
Vin Baker: I feel great about the legacy and history. Obviously, growing up here in New England, it's a great experience for me. I grew up a Celtics fan. To finally come home and be a part of this great family, I couldn't have written the script any better. I'm so excited about being a part of their history and helping them rise to the top again like they did last year.
John: Do you have a nickname?
Vin Baker: My friends just call me "Bake." It used to be "Shake and Bake," but I've gotten a little bit older, so they took the "Shake" out.
Mark(Boston): Hey Vin, First welcome to Boston! I wanted to ask you if those NBA "experts" who have questioned this deal only motivate you more to have a succesful year/career with the Celtics. PS: I am excited in the potential of a triple threat offense!
Vin Baker: I'm definitely motivated by being in Boston and proving people wrong. I think the one person I need to prove something to the most is myself. I feel like I can be an NBA All-Star. I'm excited about proving it to myself. I've worked hard this summer for this situation.
Harm-Jan (Boskoop, Holland): Who was your idol when you grew up?
Vin Baker: First I'd have to say my father. He's a guy who really taught me the most important thing in life, teaching me about God and how to be a good person. And then after my father, would be Muhammed Ali. He was a great athlete, but he also stood up for things in his life that a lot of people wouldn't stand up for. I think he was about triple the human being than he was the athlete. I always talked about how Ali lost...he had three years where he was out of boxing. And he fought back. He proved that you could return and still be a great athlete.
geoff (sacramento): Do you have any superstitions?
Vin Baker: No superstitions. I put tape on three of my fingers, two on the left, one on the right. And I always have to put the two on the left before the right. But other than that, nothing big.
derren(hawaii): Mr. Baker, in the past you have averaged double digits in rebounding. Do you feel that you can accomplish this feat for the Celtics?
Vin Baker: I think being with Boston and obviously being probably the third wheel offensively, a lot of my points will come from offensive rebounding. The effort's gotta be there on the boards and putting it back. I think the rebounding will definitely go up. Being on the glass will be key for me this season.
Ben (usvi): Hello,Vin. Please answer this! How do you think playing with the best duo in the East will help you as a player?
Vin Baker: I think it's going to help me tremendously. I played in a situation like Paul and Antoine in Milwaukee. So I think it'll take a lot of pressure on me offensively. I think there will be a lot of games that I'll be able to come in and explode because teams are focusing so much on Paul and Antoine.
Steve (Cumberland): Vin - Welcome to Boston! Who do you think is the best team/biggest threat to a Celtics championship run in the East this year?
Vin Baker: Thank you. And I think the East has so much parity this year. Obviously Jersey made themselves better with Mutombo and Rogers. I think the 76ers are going to be good. I think Indiana will be good. But I think the Celtics made themselves the best team this summer with the moves that they made. Milwaukee will be better. NY will be better. But I think the Celtics answered a lot of questions that they needed to ansewr and cleaned up a lot of things going into this season.
boston,betty: Welcome to Boston. How have you prepared in the offseason to prove your critics wrong both in the locker room and on the court?
Vin Baker: Thank you to Betty first. Since the deal happened, I've been up here working with the Celtics. I weighed myself today, and I weighed 253 pounds. We've been working diligently. We've worked so hard with the whole staff in Boston, going over things and getting a head start on the offensive and defensive schemes and where I fit into them. This the best shape I've been in coming into a season. My family and friends have been so supportive. I think I'm more prepared for this season than any other season.
Vin Baker: I just want to thank everyone for writing in and the fans in Boston for welcoming me to Boston. I've very excited to be here. I think this team, with the addition of me, has the opportunity to make it to the Finals. I've been working my butt off to help this team, and I think everyone will be excited about the final product. It's going to be an exciting season.