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A Stronger Battie Wants A Contract And To Contribute
Tony now real tiger: Battie beefs up C's chances
by Steve Bulpett
Saturday, October 9, 1999
Tony Battie can run well for a 6-foot-11 guy. He can get off the floor,
rebound and block shots. And he's got quite a nice shooting touch in the
The major problem that Celtics coach Rick Pitino found with him last year
was frequency, as in, why won't he do that every night?
The Celtic coach was pointed in remarking that he wanted to keep Battie
and work with him, and that he needed the 23-year-old to take a diligent
step forward in this, his third year.
And after a summer at the Celtic training facility in Waltham, Battie is
stronger and, he believes, ready to make good on the promise he showed
near the end of last season.
``Antoine (Walker) went down. Players have to step up,'' Battie shrugged
when asked about his flashes of strong play. ``I mean, you have to play
within your role. When (Walker is) in the game, he's getting the majority
of the shots. But he went down with that ankle sprain at the end and I was
able to play a few more minutes and get some more production.
``I think when I'm out there I'm giving it all I got and basically just
doing my role, which is pressing and running and rebounding and blocking
shots. Part of my role is to score occasionally, but we've got our scorers
and I'm just trying to fulfill my role the best I can.''
Battie didn't really shoot more in the eight games Walker missed with a
sprained ankle, but he stepped forward with five double-figure rebounding
efforts (he had just five more in the other 42 games) and 18 blocked
Now he's hoping the Celtics will step forward on a contract extension.
While there is still a decent possibility an extension won't get done
before the Oct. 31 deadline and Battie will be free to leave next summer,
he doesn't want to think about that. He just wants to solve the matter as
soon as possible.
``Of course it's crossed my mind, but it's just one of those things,''
Battie said. ``I've got to go forward with the season and play as hard as
I can here. Then when the time comes to re-sign, I'll re-sign. If the time
comes to move on, I'll move on. It's going to come or it's not. The thing
is just to play as hard as I can and build my stock here or elsewhere.
``I think things will happen. I love the organization. I feel the
organization wants me here and I want to be here. I've been here all
summer working hard trying to build into what they want me to be.
``They asked me to stay here. They asked me to play in the summer league.
And I did all of that. I showed my faith and my loyalty to the team by
staying here this summer and working hard, and I think that they'll show
their loyalty when it comes up to bat for a contract.''
Battie certainly recognizes that Pitino's game plan suits his own body and
``It's a great situation,'' he said. ``My style of play - long, lanky a
little bit - it's great for the pressing system, up and down the floor
pressing and sprinting. I think I fit in pretty good. Just from last year,
we had the second team coming off the bench as the better pressing team.
That fit my style perfectly.''
Battie added to his style by adding to his body this summer. He is
carrying a more muscular upper body.
``I put on a little bit of weight, a little bit of bulk,'' he said. ``But
I'm losing some of it now going through these two-a-days. I think I'll be
able to maintain (the extra strength) throughout the season.''