Celtics

Brian Scalabrine on Tacko Mania: I know what it's like and I'm all in

Brian Scalabrine on Tacko Mania: I know what it's like and I'm all in

ORLANDO — What’s it like having an entire arena chanting for you to get put into a game?

I’ll tell you what, at first, I didn't like it. Not because I didn't like the attention — that was fine. It was more about disrespecting the guys who built the lead. With the Celtics, I would go in when we were up 20, but I always felt like I wasn't the one who should be getting the attention. It should be Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo, or Kendrick Perkins.

But I really embraced that role in Boston after we won the championship in 2008. Then, the two years in Chicago, I really embraced that role. I started loving it — like really loving it, and trying to give the people what they want.

So, I know what it’s like to be in Tacko Fall’s size-22 shoes. And I’m all for TackoMania.

I find the crowd is gravitating towards Tacko because they really want him to succeed, they want him to make it in the NBA. It's just something that we have never really seen before. He’s this massive guy who went undrafted and now he’s trying to make the team and I think that people gravitate towards that. He's an incredible person, which I always think goes a long way when it comes to this type of stuff. I think the momentum is like a tidal wave. First, you see him, then you hear him speak, and then you hear other people speak about him, and I think that all has a lot to do with TackoMania.

Those that think all this is happening because he’s got a unique first name don’t get it. It used to be about the little guy. It used to be Spud Webb, it used to be Isaiah Thomas. You rooted for the little guy to make it in the NBA. Or, for me, you rooted for the white guy to make the team. It’s not that anymore, the NBA has changed. 

If Tacko wasn't an unbelievable person, if he wasn't so well-spoken, if he wasn't liked by his teammates or his coaches, then this would not exist. I think that there's momentum to this and he knows how to handle it as well, which, in my opinion, bleeds into more TackoMania.

I’ll admit, when I was in the huddles at the preseason game against the Hornets on Sunday, I couldn’t stop staring at Tacko. He's just so big. He's a giant among giants. It’s amazing that he’s just that much bigger than everybody else. I wasn’t staring in a bad way, it’s just hard not to look at him. It’s like how people probably stared at Andre the Giant.

Will Tacko make the Celtics’ roster? I hope he does. But it will be interesting if he spends time in the G-League. If he’s traveling on an NBA plane, Tacko will be fine. But the G-League is a grind. I don’t know how he’s going to travel on these commercial planes and buses and all that stuff. But I do believe that, if he plays 25-30 games in the G-League, it will help him out tremendously for his future. I want Tacko to be around the NBA team but I ultimately want him to have a 14- or 15-year career in the NBA — and that’s what I’m really rooting for.

When people were chanting for me in Boston, I was more established at that time. I think Tacko just needs to continue to work on being a better player. There are some dog days of the NBA and it will be interesting if he does make the roster, if coach Brad Stevens uses Tacko in different situations. Think about it: If there's a dog day in the NBA and you put him in the game, he can do some things that can really change the game. From a basketball standpoint, guards can press up more, and they can force guys to drive. Tacko can sit back instead of waiting for people to run their offense and go side to side. Everyone could just deny the wings and press up because there's no help and only Tacko at the rim. So there are some things that Tacko could do. 

And then the jolt to the crowd. Those dog days of January, February, early March, it will be interesting if Brad might use him for three or four minutes in the second quarter to boost energy. Or if things are flat in the third quarter and you use Tacko to boost the energy in the building. So, there is a little bit of strategy that you can use surrounding him given the hype as well.

I don’t think teammates will get jealous of the attention that Tacko gets. I was lucky, all my teammates supported me. In Boston and Chicago, we were winning and all the guys knew what it was for me. I was a guy that they liked and that helped. Just like the word coming out on Celtics camp and every coach that I’ve talked to says that Tacko is an unbelievable person. He’s humble, hard-working, and well-spoken. It’s a unique set of skills that he possesses as a human being, let alone a basketball player. And he’s going to continue to get better.

I could see how, if a teammate gets sent to the G-League versus if Tacko gets sent there, some talk of resentment could happen. But no one would ever hold it against Tacko. Those are decisions that people are making at way above everyone's pay grade. All these young guys just gotta play and it's all about getting better.

My advice to all those guys is that it's not even about making money this year. It's about becoming a better basketball player because, Javonte Green and Tacko and Tremont Waters, these guys all want to be 10-year NBA players, so their best bet is to be the best basketball players they can be. And maybe that means a lot of games in the G-League and maybe that's getting a two-way deal. I don't think they should be focused on the other stuff.

No matter what happens, TackoMania is fun to watch right now. And everyone should just enjoy it.

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Celtics guard Marcus Smart confirms he's cleared of coronavirus

Celtics guard Marcus Smart confirms he's cleared of coronavirus

The Boston Celtics faithful got some great news on Sunday night. Marcus Smart has officially been cleared of coronavirus as of Friday.

Smart took to Twitter on Sunday night to proclaim that he had been "corona free" for two days. Here's a look at his message to fans.

That's excellent news that Smart is healthy. Brad Stevens had confirmed that Smart had been "feeling good" in a recent interview, and it appears that the scrappy guard is now out of the woods.

Smart had been asymptomatic at the time of his test. But he was tested out of an abundance of caution given that the Celtics had squared off against the Utah Jazz not long before Rudy Gobert tested positive for the disease.

After his diagnosis, Smart appeared on CNN to offer his perspective on the pandemic. He said that he was taking the quarantine "very, very seriously" even before his test had come back positive.

With Smart cleared, that means that all Celtics players and staffers that were tested have been cleared of COVID-19.

Tacko Fall discusses Africa-to-America basketball pipeline on 60 Minutes

Tacko Fall discusses Africa-to-America basketball pipeline on 60 Minutes

When Tacko Fall was 16, he left Senegal for the first time. The big man came to the United States on a special visa to attend high school and develop as a basketball player.

There was only one problem. Fall wasn't very familiar with the game of basketball. And as he described in an interview with 60 Minutes correspondent Jon Wertheim, that was part of his tough adjustment to life in the USA.

"I was a big kid. I was huge. I was 7' 2". But I didn't know what I was doing on the basketball court. I had no idea," Fall said, as transcribed by CBS News' Keith Zubrow. "I didn't even know if I belonged in there. Some [of] it was a tough time getting adjusted to that. Just playing every day, working out, practicing, having the regimen. And it was also tough mentally, not having my mom, not having my family around."

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Though Fall had his share of issues at first, including moving to several different states before ultimately landing at Liberty Christian Prep, nearby Orlando, Fla., he ultimately figured everything out. He went to play for the UCF Golden Knights where he was one of their team's best players and the NCAA's best shot blockers. 

While Fall went undrafted after a four-year career at UCF, he caught on with the Boston Celtics during the Las Vegas Summer League. He became an instant fan-favorite and found a perfect role with the squad as a two-way player. And before the NBA shut down, he spent most of his time with the Maine Red Claws continuing to develop his game while averaging 12.9 points, 11.1 rebounds, and 2.9 blocks and making better than 70 percent of his shots.

But Fall knows that there are some that aren't so lucky. And he's hoping that the NBA getting involved with the program will improve conditions for all involved.

"[There's] been many times where I feel like some people have been taken advantage of," Fall said. "They bring them here, then that's it. Then they're just left for their own. And if things don't work out, then they are pretty much screwed. It's getting better. I feel like now that they know what's going on, people are being more careful… especially now with the NBA being involved. And it's only gonna keep getting better."

Hopefully, it does continue to get better as Fall says. And maybe he can work with the NBA to help shape a program that helps all parties involved attain a desirable outcome.