New Celtic Ratliff Eager To Teach Old Tricks

WALTHAM - School brought Theo Ratliff to Boston about a month before training camp.

He had to get his kids enrolled for the fall, and he's already done a little teaching in Waltham with some of his young Celtics teammates. When we caught up with him on Wednesday, he had just played a few rounds of pickup with Ryan Gomes, Rajon Rondo, Allan Ray, Dwayne Jones, Gerald Green, Tony Allen and Kevin Pittsnogle.

At 33, Ratliff has more NBA experience (11 years) than everyone else in the gym combined.

"We have a lot of quality young players here who are very eager to learn and listen," Ratliff said as he watched the young guys hit the bikes hard with Strength and Conditioning Coaches Bryan Doo and Walter Norton. "My role is just to play off my experience and help get them some experience."

Ratliff's reputation as an all-around good guy precedes him here in Boston, and he takes more of a lead-by-example approach rather than dispensing unsolicited advice.

"I'm more of a worker than a talker," Ratliff said. "I want guys to see that I'm out here working early, and I'm going to give 110% when I'm out on the floor. I want them to realize that in order to have longevity in this league, you've gotta learn how to work."

It was suggested that the young pups may be able to push him to play harder due to having more energy thanks to their youth, but Ratliff objected. He says he hasnít lost much in his game, and he can still run with the best of them. When he needs an advantage, he knows how to get it. He can just dip into his playbook of tricks of the trade, things that were passed down to him when he was trying to find his way in the NBA.

In other words, the "old dog" still has some old tricks, and he intends to pass them along.

"I can teach them little techniques, the finer things of the game, things that the old hands taught me, guys like Mark West, Rick Mahorn, Otis Thorpe. Some of those guys showed me things when I came into the league, and I can help these guys focus on that stuff," Ratliff said.

He said that he had asked the Trailblazers for a trade to a new situation, and was excited when he found out he was Boston-bound. And he's especially excited about teaching one of the Celtics' young forwards.

"I felt [the Celtics] needed someone in the middle. That's something they've been lacking," said Ratliff. "We've got plenty of scoring with guys like Paul [Pierce] and Wally [Szczerbiak]. But seeing Gomes and how he works, he's the type of guy that I was coming into the league, a hard-nosed guy with a relentless work ethic. It's going to be great working alongside him."

Of course, one young Celtic with whom Ratliff has already played alongside is Sebastian Telfair, the centerpiece of the draft-day trade with the Trailblazers. Ratliff sees plenty of potential in Telfair and offered the following scouting report:

"He can get up and down the floor; he's a very explosive guard," Ratliff said. "He's still in the process of learning how to control a team, and understanding the game. But he's tremendous on the fast break and has a great work ethic."

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