Jared Sullinger: A Boston Celtics’ Disappointment


The Boston CelticsJared Sullinger has established himself as a pretty darn good NBA player at the youthful age of 23 and in what is only his fourth year in the league. But I’m pissed off at him right now, Celtics fans. Give me a chance to explain.

Prior to Saturday’s matchup with the Spurs, Jared was averaging roughly 13 rebounds per 36 minutes of play, all while going toe to toe against the best bigs in the world as the starting power forward for the Boston Celtics. This, like Sullinger, is a pretty big deal, Celtics fans. How big? Kevin Love, who is hands down one of the best rebounders of this generation of players, has averaged over 13 rebounds per 36 minutes only 3 times in his almost decade long career. Jared’s average of over 15 points per 36 this season isn’t too shabby, either.

So how does he do it? Sully has one heck of a pair of hands and all-star level instincts, particularly as it relates to his aforementioned excellence in rebounding. He’s often jumping up for a gentle tip in or fierce pull down after a miss before players battling on the boards right next to him have even realized the shot won’t be going in. Sometimes, I think Jared knows whether or not an attempt will be good before it’s shooter does. And once he’s carved out some space in the paint, has the ball in his hands, and he is the guy taking the shot, forget about it; if that shot misses, and it doesn’t bounce out to about the 3 point line, chances are Sully is going to be the one to come up with it.

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Jared has even stared down his share of adversity, despite being a relative newcomer to the league. Don’t forget about the back injury his rookie season, which resulted in him not being able to jump more than 2 inches off the ground and required season ending surgery. Then, there was the domestic violence incident involving his girlfriend. And this past summer, Jared got himself into Brad Stevens’ doghouse, causing him to begin the 2015-2016 campaign coming off the pine. (If you see him, ask Tyler Zeller how hard it can be to get out of Stevens’ doghouse). Sullinger has shown us that he can bounce back.

Taking these points into consideration, there’s no denying Sully is a definite building block of this team’s future and a flourishing young pro. So, what’s my problem with the guy? Celtics fans, I thought you’d never ask!

I look at Jared Sullinger, and I see God given ability to play the game of basketball, real talent. But talent isn’t the only thing. In addition to an emerging young star, with oodles of potential, I see a player who just doesn’t “get it,” an individual who forces me to question his dedication to his sport and his team — my team. In case you didn’t know it, Celtics fans, Jared Sullinger is overweight, 20-30 pounds overweight. We aren’t talking about baby fat, here, people; unless of course, we’re talking about the baby back ribs Sullinger probably eats for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, a late night snack, and a late-late night snack.

If Jared played baseball and was a pitcher or designated hitter, I wouldn’t have a problem with his size. If he were in the NFL and was an offensive or defensive lineman (the Pats could use some help on the O-line…), I would see his big belly as a big asset. But he’s not.

While Jared’s career is off to a promising start, the NBA isn’t the right league for an overweight athlete. Instead, success is predicated on athleticism in the NBA more than in any other major sports league in the country. Sulling is a chubby man playing a skinny man’s game right now, and he will not, cannot, reach his full potential until he gets serious about his conditioning. I don’t want to hear more unfulfilled promises. I don’t want to see more misleading offseason twitter pics. I want the scale to stop having panic attacks when Jared’s headed down the hall.

Today, Sullinger is not wholeheartedly invested in being the best basketball player he can be, or in making The Celtics the best team it can be. Eating unhealthily is, at the very least, as important to him as these two things. And I cannot respect this.

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As fans, we need to know our team’s players are as dedicated as we are. We tune into the games, buy the tickets, and live and die by the wins and losses. On their end, the players get paid the big bucks and should be busting their rear ends — giving themselves, their team, and their fanbase every shred of what they’ve got.

I’ve been keeping my end of the bargain, Jared, but you haven’t.