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CELTICS NOTEBOOK

Ray jumps into job

Assistant will keep big men on toes

CELTICS

WALTHAM -- The Celtics' newest assistant coach, Clifford Ray, brings an impressive and eclectic résumé to Boston. A musician with a degree in fine arts from Oklahoma, Ray plays most woodwind instruments. He sees similarities between a well-played concert and a well-played basketball game. Ray also has a soft spot for dolphins, having saved one from almost certain death.

During Ray's playing days with Golden State, a show dolphin at Marine World swallowed a pointed screw. The dolphin's caretakers called on Ray because he had long arms.

The 6-foot-8-inch center -- whose arms are reportedly 3 feet 9 inches long -- reached into the dolphin's stomach and fished out the screw.

``It was an interesting ordeal, because I had to dress up in surgical gear," said Ray. ``The whole nine yards. There were all these photographers. [The news] went all over the world. I tell people it was my 15 minutes of fame."

The latest challenge for Ray is helping develop the Celtics' young players, especially Al Jefferson. In his first day on the job, Ray spent considerable time working with Jefferson on shooting, ball-handling, and footwork. Ray has worked with a long list of NBA big men, including Dwight Howard, Ben Wallace, Chris Webber, Erick Dampier, and DeSagana Diop.

``When I don't have a job with a team, guys always called and asked if I could help them," said Ray. ``As a teacher, it's very flattering that guys in the league allow you to work with them, to help them attain their goals. I've been blessed to have great relationships with [players], to have them feel that I've helped them."

Ray sees a lot of hard work ahead for Jefferson, with the payoff hopefully to come next season. Ray also has a plan for the ankle problems that plagued Jefferson last season.

``There's a lot of things he can do to help with that," said Ray. ``The reason being is, he's bottom-heavy. He has thick legs. He's going to have to do a lot of things, like jump a lot of rope so he won't have ankle sprains.

``But he's got a very good upside. It's just a matter of him setting goals and wanting to be the best."

Working men
In addition to Jefferson, Ryan Gomes, Tony Allen, and Dan Dickau worked out at the Celtics' practice facility yesterday. Assistants Tony Brown, Dave Wohl, and Armond Hill were also on hand to put the players through their paces as Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers watched . . . Before the Boston veterans took the floor, the team welcomed another batch of draft prospects: Kentucky point guard Rajon Rondo , Bryant point guard John Williams, Boston College point guard Louis Hinnant, and Iowa State point guard Will Blalock for a second time. ``I think Blalock is an NBA player," said Ainge. ``Rondo is probably going to be a high draft pick, but it's too early to tell where." As for Rondo's athleticism, Ainge said, ``He's got jets."

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