BOSTON (CBS) – Prior to Sunday, Jared Sullinger had never been late to a Celtics practice or shoot-around. Three days later, it’s happened in back-to-back home games for the starting power forward.
The 22-year-old was pulled from the starting lineup on Sunday against the Miami Heat after showing up late for the team’s pregame walk-through. That trend continued on Wednesday, as Brad Stevens opted to start Tyler Zeller at center in place of Sullinger when the big man was late yet again.READ MORE: Police Searching Woods In Abington For Missing 5-Year-Old Elijah Lewis
What was the cause of Sullinger’s consistent tardiness? Boston traffic.
The third-year big man explained his travel issues to the media before Wednesday’s game, describing a scenario most Bostonians could relate to.
“My original route down Storrow (Drive), take Trapelo Rd. all the way down, go down Storrow, get to the Garden, it takes like 30 minutes,” Sullinger said. “But what happened was there was a funeral so I got caught behind a funeral [procession] on Sunday. And then [today] I said I’m not going to take that route. [Today], I went another route. Of course I go Route 2 to try to get back on Storrow, an ambulance was down there and all that good stuff, so I had to turn around and go another route. Like I said, things happen. I was just trying to get there on time and just be there for my teammates.”READ MORE: 'Plan For Alternatives': Toys May Be In Short Supply This Holiday Season
Despite the bad travel luck, Sullinger said his teammates harbored no ill will towards him for his lack of promptness. In fact, his teammate Evan Turner went on a rant regarding Boston traffic when asked by reporters about Sullinger’s issues. ,
“They understood,” Sullinger said of his teammates’ reaction. “Everybody in this locker room was probably late one time. They understood. Things happen. You can’t let if affect you. We still have a game. Just because I was late doesn’t mean I was late to the game. You’ve still got to play a game. Our main objective is to win. Whether I start, whether I get benched, whether I don’t dress at all, we just want to win basketball games. So it is what it is.”
While Sullinger’s teammates weren’t hard on the power forward for the repeat offense, Stevens showed some disappointment with the situation.
“I think there’s a right way to go about things,” Stevens noted. “So you do the right thing. Coach the group that will be out there, and coach the group that’s out there after that, and go from there. It obviously may change a matchup, or a couple of plays that you’re going to go with early in the game, but it doesn’t necessarily change the way I approach the day. Sure, it’s something that you just have to deal with and move forward. I hope it’s the last time we talk about it — and hoped Sunday was, too. I feel confident it will be.”MORE NEWS: Lauren Astley's Father Works With Wayland Students To Raise Awareness About Teen Dating Violence
If Sullinger wants to stay in Stevens’ rotation moving forward, he will be sure to give himself some extra time on all of his commutes for the remainder of the year.