Celtics

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." 

Enes Kanter, Celtics offer inside look at NBA bubble meals, hotel rooms

Enes Kanter, Celtics offer inside look at NBA bubble meals, hotel rooms

The Boston Celtics have entered the bubble.

The Celtics flew to Orlando on Wednesday and reported to Walt Disney World's Gran Destino Tower, where they'll stay throughout the NBA's restarted 2019-20 season.

Other NBA teams arrived earlier than the Celtics, and some players complained about the underwhelming meals they received and some less-than-ideal living conditions.

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A few C's players had a different experience, however. Here's Celtics big man Enes Kanter showing off a solid Wednesday night dinner spread that included steak, sweet potatoes and greens:

Kanter also took a video of his breakfast Thursday morning, shouting out the NBA for giving him halal food in accordance with his observation of Islam.

Jayson Tatum, meanwhile, called in reinforcements, as his mother apparently came through to feed her 22-year-old son: 

As for their living arrangements, Kanter gave fans a tour of his living quarters at the Gran Destino:

Life in a single suite can get lonely, but the C's already are finding ways to connect and stay entertained. Celtics forward Semi Ojeleye hopped on Twitch on Wednesday night for a video game session, while big man Vincent Poirier shared his own gaming setup on Instagram.

The 22 teams in the NBA bubble have to adhere to strict safety protocols (sorry, no doubles ping pong) to limit the spread of COVID-19. But they're all playing by the same rules, so the teams that best adapt to their new environments may have the best chance of succeeding once games start later this month.

The Celtics will play three scrimmage games beginning July 24 before opening their "seeding round" schedule July 31 against the Milwaukee Bucks.

2020 NBA restart: It's OK for players to vocalize bubble concerns

2020 NBA restart: It's OK for players to vocalize bubble concerns

Even after Jayson Tatum very eloquently detailed his apprehensions about entering the bubble, there are some who continue to roll their eyes whenever a player expresses even the tiniest bit of concern about their sport’s resumption of play.

Listening to Boston Celtics players explain their various issues over the past week, I found it refreshing. I found it human. These players are leaving their families and risking their safety to bring us a tiny slice of normalcy with the return of pro sports.

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Yes, most are handsomely compensated — but they are also being thrust into an unprecedented situation with restraints they never signed up for, all largely for our entertainment.

What’s more, most recognize this. Tatum admitted it would be callous of him to sit out the restart solely in fear of compromising future earnings at a time when unemployment numbers are so outrageously high.

But if players want to vocalize their concerns — big and small — I’m all ears. There is no playbook for what players are about to endure inside this bubble and how they handle it all is a big part of the story.

When Tatum bemoans being apart from his 2 ½-year old son for as much as three months, I get it. FaceTime and Zoom make the world smaller but they are not substitutes for daily interaction between child and parent. When Gordon Hayward is adamant he will depart the bubble, and deal with the obstacles of reentering, to be there for the birth of his first son, I get it.

Life events, particularly those that could not have reasonably been expected to interfere with one’s work schedule, should not be ignored because it might temporarily hinder a team’s quest for a trophy.

At a time when all of our lives have already been altered, players are being asked to sacrifice even more of their typical freedoms.

It’s fair for them to be skeptical. It’s fair for them to voice concerns, even if others don’t believe they are as much of a hindrance as that player might be suggesting. We’d go so far as to suggest it would be weird if players didn’t have concerns about how this is all going to work, or offer emotional reactions to the infancy of their bubble stay.

We’re guessing many of the anxieties and inconveniences will likely dissipate as players settle into the bubble. Eventually, the return of games and competition should offer a much-needed jolt of normalcy in an otherwise bizarre living situation.

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If a player expressing their concern somehow diminishes your excitement for what’s ahead, I’m not sure what to tell you. To expect robot-like enthusiasm from athletes is misguided. To fret that players might vocalize genuine human emotion instead of simply reciting boring sports clichés flies counter to what we constantly yearn from our athletes.

There is a delicate line to walk. And players bemoaning 5-star hotels and pre-packaged meals won’t sit well in all corners. But I don’t mind the glimpse it offers if a player wants to share his knee-jerk reaction.

The guess here is that when Celtics players put on their uniforms and see the likes of Giannis Antetokounmpo on the other side of the floor, competition will take center stage and the NBA will deliver a product much like the one we’ve yearned for since everything paused in March.

Sure, it's fair to wonder how the early scrimmages and seeding games will look, as each team will have different motivations in the ramp-up to the postseason, but the playoffs should have much of the excitement that we’re used to from those games. Let the famed Dream Team scrimmage be a prime example of how the absence of a crowd doesn’t always affect the intensity on the court.

This is all wildly unique. If being away from his son affects Tatum’s play, I want to hear about it. If Jaylen Brown worries that the return of games stunts the momentum of the social justice movement, I want to hear him vocalize that.

The human element is a major storyline to this wild experience.