On Pro Basketball
HAVERHILL — Celtics assistant coach Armond Hill smiled as he reflected back to his visit to the Merrimack Valley one year ago. It was just days after Boston completed the Kevin Garnett trade that shook the NBA.
"I remember talking about the deals last year and everything (I was hoping for) basically came true," he said. "It was such an exciting time with the trades and new players. We went to Italy for training camp and started to bond, and the season just worked out perfectly."
Yesterday, Hill held a group of approximately 100 boys and girls at the Elite Players Basketball Camp at Cedardale in awe for nearly an hour with advice and stories about the Celtics' memorable run to the title.
"It was a roller coaster of a season," said the 55-year-old. "But every season is. Nothing is going to go as easy as you think it is. Things are going to go wrong, and (head coach) Doc (Rivers) did a great job of keeping the players, coaches and front office focused. And there is nothing like a (championship) parade."
Hill, who is heading into his fifth season with Boston, is known as an offensive specialist. He showed a special respect for Celtics star Paul Pierce, who recently declared he was the best player in the world.
"Paul is Paul," he said with a smile. "He has a lot of confidence, and being the NBA Finals MVP is a real accomplishment. You have to give him his due, and I don't mind anyone who has a lot of confidence.
"Paul is one of the greatest offensive players I have ever seen. He has the knack for getting to the basket and is a terrific shooter. People underestimate how hard it is to score in the NBA. He is also very knowledgeable and sees the floor and knows how to pass."
He also gave credit to the mental strength of Celts guard Ray Allen. The veteran marksman recovered from shooting .328 in the second round to average 20.3 points a game in the NBA finals.
"You don't want to bother a shooter," he said. "You let a shooter do what he does. There wasn't anything wrong with his shot, they were just rimming out. He has always worked on his shot and he knows how to prepare it."
But when a youngster asked him about hard workers, it was Garnett that he showered with praise.
"KG is very intense," he said. "On and off the court, he is an intense individual. He's like that in practice and shootouts. But he is a great teammate and I would love to play with him. He is a great guy and one of the hardest workers I have every seen."
About Armond Hill
Height: 6-4; Age: 55
Education: Bishop Ford High, Lawrenceville (N.J.) Prep, Princeton
NBA: Atlanta (1976-80, 83-84), Seattle (1980-81), San Diego (1981-82) and Milwaukee (1982-83).
NBA averages: 6.9 points, 4.3 assists
Coaching career: Lawrenceville head coach, won 1990 state prep school title; Princeton assistant 1991; Columbia head coach 1995-03 (72-141 record); Atlanta Hawks assistant 2003-04; Celtics assistant 2004-present