J.R. Giddens made a visit to a local sporting goods store after beginning the 2003-04 school year, his freshman year at Kansas University.
"The first thing I bought with my scholarship check was a Paul Pierce Boston Celtics jersey and green headband," said Giddens, a 6-foot-5, 205-pound forward who Thursday was tapped by the Celtics with the last pick of the first round.
"I wore that headband until it was dingy green. I wore it out completely," Giddens added in an interview with Boston WEEI radio.
Giddens - he lasted just two years at KU before transferring to the University of New Mexico - now is a teammate of Pierce, who played three seasons at KU.
Giddens said he felt "blessed," not just to land a guaranteed contract as a first-round pick, but that he's now a member of Pierce's NBA championship team.
"Everybody screamed," Giddens said of the reaction of his former Lobos teammates, who watched the draft with him in Albuquerque, N.M. "I embraced the moment with my teammates and coaches. I prayed to God and thanked him. I can't believe my dream came true."
Giddens, 23, who left KU after an incident outside Moon Bar in which he suffered a deep stab wound in his right calf (he pleaded no contest to a battery charge), also was suspended from the team twice at New Mexico.
"I was a young guy, immature, and made some bad decisions. I didn't put myself in the best positions. Now that I'm older, I feel I do a lot better in decision-making, staying on the right path. I feel I've overcome all those things," said Giddens, who averaged 16.3 points on 51.5 percent shooting a year ago in earning co-Western Conference Player of the Year honors.
"They (struggles) made me the man and player I am today. I didn't go through all those things for no reason. I feel it's helped me build character that I have now, made me a better ballplayer.
"God does everything for a reason. The path I walked is the path God chose for me. I'll continue to walk it with the best of my ability. I will try to represent myself with the Celtic organization with the utmost class possible."
Celtics general manager Danny Ainge said he's not concerned about Giddens' past. Remember, former Jayhawk Pierce also was stabbed in an incident in a Boston club during the early portion of his NBA career and has not been in trouble since. Of course Pierce did not face legal charges of any kind in that incident in which he was a victim.
"First, I'm confident he's a good kid," Ainge told the Boston Herald. "Second, the team we have will make him better. He's not as mature as I would like to see, and he's not as disciplined as our guys are, but they will help him to achieve both things."
Coach Doc Rivers said: "Back then (at KU), he was young and immature. Whenever someone transfers, you're always concerned about it. He's had some run-ins, but (UNM coach) Steve Alford loved him."
KU coach Bill Self, who never has had a bad thing to say about Giddens, said "not really," when asked if he was surprised Giddens went in Round One. He didn't necessarily expect the pick, though.
"That's another example of us not knowing what's going on," Self added. "Those NBA teams, they keep people off the scent. Like Boston would never tell anybody how much they love J.R. because that might make somebody at 28, 29 say, 'Well, maybe we should look at him.'
"Of course his name never came up, and I coached him for two years, so you'd think if they (Celtics) were interested, they would say, 'How do we trust Self to not tell anybody that we're thinking about him?'
"It's just one of those things. It's a poker game for a lot of these guys, and I certainly understand why, but I'm happy for J.R. Even though it did end up poorly here for him, he does have talent, but I was certainly disappointed it wasn't Mario (Chalmers, fourth pick of second round) getting taken at 30, 29, 26."
¢ Chalmers update: Chalmers has chosen Sam Goldfeder of Excel Sports Management as his agent. Excel Sports Management also represents Pierce.
¢ Morris twins update: Incoming freshmen Marcus and Markieff Morris, who have been on campus the past few days, will begin summer classes today. The twins are not yet academically eligible to play during the 2008-09 season.
"There's still a little bit of a process. They've finished their schoolwork, but are still waiting for some things to get turned in and graded," Self said.
The NCAA Clearinghouse will receive the standardized test scores and grades. Self and officials at APEX Academies, the twins' prep school, said they do not expect there will be a problem with the twins gaining eligibility.
¢ Early mock draft: ESPN has put out its 2009 NBA Draft rankings. KU's Cole Aldrich has been listed as the No. 18 pick overall, four picks ahead of North Carolina senior Tyler Hansbrough. KU's Sherron Collins is listed as the 40th overall pick. Oklahoma's Blake Griffin is No. 1.