Celtics

Danny Ainge on Josh Jackson: 'He didn’t want to play for the Celtics'

Danny Ainge on Josh Jackson: 'He didn’t want to play for the Celtics'

BOSTON – There was no late-night workout in New York City between the Boston Celtics and Josh Jackson.

There was no conversation between Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations and the Kansas University star, either.

And that made the decision by Boston to select Duke’s Jayson Tatum with the No. 3 pick a lot easier than some might have thought.

Following Thursday night’s NBA draft, Ainge spoke to the media on several topics which included him explaining the interaction – or lack thereof – between the Celtics organization and Jackson who was selected with the No. 4 pick by the Phoenix Suns.

When asked about his level of communication with Jackson, Ainge said, “never talked to Josh. No one in our organization did. I know someone wrote something that was different.”

That’s because in New York City on Wednesday, Jackson told a group of reporters that he had spoken with head coach Brad Stevens and other assistant coaches, but had not had a chance to talk with Ainge.

Despite the lack of communication with the Celtics, Jackson said he was still open to playing for Boston.

“It would be great to play in Boston,” Jackson told reporters on Wednesday. “I see a lot of their players on their team are about the same things I’m about. Anybody who knows me, knows I love to win. I see that in a lot of the guys on their team. I would love to play in Boston.”

Those were his words.

But his actions told an entirely different story.

Jackson said he didn’t work out for Boston because he and his agent didn’t think the Celtics were interested in him when they had the number one overall pick.

Once Boston traded the No. 1 overall pick for Philadelphia’s pick (No. 3) and a future first-round pick, Jackson said there was more interest on Boston’s part but there was not enough time to schedule a workout.

Boston's attempt at working out Jackson went horribly wrong. 

“They canceled a workout on us,” Ainge said. “When we flew out to Sacramento, they decided to cancel it; as we flew, Brad and I and (assistant GM and team counsel) Mike Zarren flew cross country.”

Although it was never said explicitly, Ainge had a feel for what was happening.

"There was something that he didn’t want to play for the Celtics,” Ainge said.

Ainge, who played for the Sacramento Kings (1989-1990), acknowledged he wasn’t thrilled to make the long trip and not get to see Jackson workout.

“I was mad,” Ainge said. “Flew cross-country. . . there’s nothing to do in Sacramento.”

Despite not having had a chance to speak with Jackson or getting to work him out, Ainge said the Celtics still had not ruled out drafting him.

“In spite of that, we watched Josh for two years and we were fans,” Ainge said. “He’s a terrific kid and a good player.”

Celtics Forgotten 50: Part 2 — Behind the Dynasty

Celtics Forgotten 50: Part 2 — Behind the Dynasty

The list of Boston Celtics greats is lengthy, but while the rafters are filled with retired numbers of legends who helped the team raise championship banners alongside those retired numbers, there's also a host of excellent players whose contributions may have been forgotten.

As the Celtics dynasty was formed in the 1950s, the ultimate game-changer was Red Auerbach, whose leadership and coaching acumen transformed the Celtics into a basketball powerhouse. 

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His arrival ushered in a 16-year stretch in which the Celtics made the postseason each year while he was the team's coach/GM, and the C's claimed an astounding 11 NBA titles within a 13-year window. 

Of course, bringing in great players was a key to the team’s unprecedented run of success. But you don’t build a dynasty of that magnitude without contributions coming from a talented supporting cast whose behind-the-scenes impact proved vital to the franchise’s evolution, even if they were often overlooked for the role they played in the team's growth.

Click here for Part 2 of our Celtics' Forgotten 50.

Cedric Maxwell 'absolutely loved' seeing Celtics players step up, lead call for change

Cedric Maxwell 'absolutely loved' seeing Celtics players step up, lead call for change

Several Boston Celtics players have been leaders in calling for change and participating in peaceful protests in the wake of George Floyd's death in Minneapolis last week.

Celtics guard Jaylen Brown drove 15 hours from Boston to his home state of Georgia to lead a peaceful protest in Atlanta. Celtics centers Enes Kanter and Vincent Poirier, as well as guard Marcus Smart also took part in peaceful protests Sunday in Boston.

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Cedric Maxwell played for the Celtics from 1977-78 through 1984-85, and he's spent most of the last two decades as a radio analyst for the team. He's very happy that these Celtics players are stepping up in this crucial moment.

"I absolutely loved it. It was fascinating to see," Maxwell said on "Arbella Early Edition" on Tuesday night. "Jaylen Brown -- I love what he did, to drive down 15 hours going to Atlanta. The only thing that disappointed me about Jaylen Brown was the fact that he did not have a mask on. If you're going to lead, you've got to lead on every aspect.

"I have just marveled at that, the fact that you have our players, like my family, my kids, are doing something that's so positive that they don't have to do. And they're showing the fact that they're connected to this community. That to me, is just -- that's what it is supposed to be about. Players during my era, we weren't connected like that. Now that these guys live in a city, they live and breathe and do the same things the city does."

NBC Sports Boston Celtics Insider A. Sherrod Blakely isn't only impressed with the players doing their part to bring about change, he's encouraged by the message from coaches like Brad Stevens on how they can play their own role in fighting racial injustice.

"The thing that jumps out to me about the Celtics isn't so much the players who are stepping up, but those around them, the Brad Stevens' of the world," Blakely said. "On his call with reporters earlier today, the one thing he talked about that really kind of resonated with me were the conversations that he was having with other white coaches in the NBA. He talked about how they can't just have empathy for players -- the black players and black coaches and the assistants.

They have to be part of what drives change throughout this time. I thought that was really important for him to acknowledge that, that they can't just be on the sidelines saying, 'We feel so bad for you guys, we're so sorry.' No, you have to be part of the process that brings about change, and I think the simple acknowledgement of that being their role, that to me is the beginning of things turning around.

"When you look back at the Civil Rights movement back in the 1950s and 1960s, as much as Dr. Martin Luther King was at the forefront of that, there were a lot of white people who helped elevate that platform to another level. I think if we're going to get the kind of systemic change that we're talking about, that has to happen among the NBA family as well."