Celtics hope Italian visit will yield championship results


Celtics hope Italian visit will yield championship results

MILAN -- No matter where the Boston Celtics went, the people of Italy showed them love.

If the Celtics have the kind of season they believe they're capable of and Doc Rivers has his way, they'll reciprocate that with a return trip.

"I think we've adopted Italy, I really do," Rivers said.

Boston's run towards Banner 17 in 2008 began with a European tour in the preseason that included time spent in Rome. Rivers recalls that trip bringing about a lot of goodwill, new friends and, ultimately, an NBA title.

"You can see that now we've come to Milan . . . let's do it again," Rivers said. "If we do it again, we should come here and have a parade as well. That would be terrific. I think all our players would say yes to that."

Although the Celtics spent time this past week in Istanbul as well as Milan, there's little doubt that the connection they experienced in Milan was stronger.

Celtics captain Paul Pierce was out and about on Saturday and noticed NBA signage with a large gathering of people nearby. As Pierce left the Duomo Cathedral of Milan, slowly but surely fans began to follow him, looking very much like a modern day Pied Piper.

"It was pretty cool," chuckled Pierce. "It just shows how our game has grown, how many fans we have over here in Milan. It was a lot of fun to be able to enjoy it with the fans."

Pierce added: "It's like a way of giving back. These people appreciate me; appreciate not only myself but my team, the whole NBA. A lot of them stay up late at night just to watch the games. For them to get a player in here, to be live and interact with them, I thought it was fun."

And the Celtics appreciate the fact that their most recent title run began in this country.

"I hope Italy is a lucky charm," Rivers said. "We talked about it the other day. We're going to play it that way for sure. We believe that, we hope that the entire country gets behind us, prays for us, and do whatever it takes because we want to win another title. We really do."

Bill Russell, Kobe Bryant post messages to Gordon Hayward


Bill Russell, Kobe Bryant post messages to Gordon Hayward

A couple of NBA legends - one old school and one more modern-day - were among the luminaries wishing Gordon Hayward well after his gruesome ankle injury in the Celtics' season opener in Cleveland on Tuesday night.

Celtics legend Bill Russell tweeted his best wishes to Hayward on Twitter and future Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant posted a message to him on Instagram.

Be sad. Be mad. Be frustrated. Scream. Cry. Sulk. When you wake up you will think it was just a nightmare only to realize it’s all too real. You will be angry and wish for the day back, the game back THAT play back. But reality gives nothing back and nor should you. Time to move on and focus on doing everything in your power to prepare for surgery, ask all the questions to be sure you understand fully the procedure so that you may visualize it in your subconscious while being operated on and better the chance of it’s success. Then focus on the recovery process day by day by day. It’s a long journey but if you focus on the mini milestones along the way you will find beauty in the struggle of doing simple things that prior to this injury were taken for granted. This will also mean that when you return you will have a new perspective. You will be so appreciative of being able to stand, walk, run that you will train harder than you ever have. You see the belief within you grow with each mini milestone and you will come back a better player for it. Best of luck to you on this journey my brother #mambamentality always.

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Hayward went down about five minutes into his first regular-season game with the C's and is awaiting surgery for an ankle dislocation and fracture at New England Baptist Hospital.

New Celtics teammate Kyrie Irving and the player Irving was traded for, Isaiah Thomas, also posted Wednesday in the aftermath of the injury. 

WE ALL got you brother, No matter what. @gdhayward 3/23 🔺👁☘️

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