WALTHAM, Mass. -- Boston Celtics second-year forward/center Jared Sullinger said Tuesday that he understands why the team elected to suspend him for the first game of the season despite having domestic violence charges dismissed against him in court on Monday.
The Celtics handed down a one-game ban on Tuesday which will keep Sullinger home as his teammates travel to Toronto to open the 2013-14 season against the Raptors on Wednesday. Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said in a statement that Sullinger "failed to meet the high expectations we have for all Celtics employees."
Said Sullinger: "Honestly, we're trying to build a culture around here. And so I totally accept that one-game suspension."
After the Celtics' afternoon session at HealthPoint, Ainge elaborated on Sullinger's suspension.
"We have higher expectations and standards, and it was a distraction to our team during an important time this summer," said Ainge. Later he added, "We’re trying to send a message, not just to Jared, but the rest of our players that their behavior has an affect on all of us."
Both Ainge and first-year coach Brad Stevens have stressed a desire to install that culture on a young team. Team brass huddled Monday after the charges were dismissed to determine his punishment. Asked if Sullinger's one-game suspension was sending a message to his squad, Stevens said, "I don’t know necessarily about making a statement, it was just about what we felt was the right thing to do in this situation."
Sullinger said he's eager to move forward with the legal process behind him.
"[The charges being dismissed] was a relief, now I can focus back on basketball and get back to the swing of things," said Sullinger. "It is what it is, now I can put it [behind] me."
Later he added, "It really didn’t affect me, honestly, because when I come out [to practice] I really don’t think about much. But when I go back home, I remember the court date and what I have to go through and all that stuff. It was a very good learning lesson and now I can move forward from it."
And what lesson did he learn?
"Just discipline. Honestly, and just understanding that what I do doesn’t only affect me, but affects so many other things," said Sullinger. "I just have to understand that in the long run."
Sullinger faced charges of assault and battery, destruction of property, and witness intimidation in connection with an Aug. 31 confrontation with his girlfriend. The woman accused Sullinger of pinning her to a bed and the floor at his Waltham home. On Sept. 3, Sullinger pleaded not guilty to charges of assault and battery, malicious destruction of property and witness intimidation and was released on $5,000 bail.
The case was dismissed Tuesday after his former girlfriend refused to testify against him and asked again that charges be dropped.
Asked if he did anything wrong, Sullinger said, "Honestly, it was just a couple mistakes by young people and it won’t happen again."