For Celtics, 2019-20 season was often a kick in the groin (literally)

For Celtics, 2019-20 season was often a kick in the groin (literally)

Semi Ojeleye, writhing in pain on the baseline at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse earlier this month, rolled over on his back and looked up to find Marcus Smart staring down at him.

This, Ojeleye figured, was karma.

"Marcus always gets hit, and the funny thing is we always laugh on the bench,” explained Ojeleye. "Like, ‘Haha, he got hit in the nuts.’ But then it’s you and you’re like, ‘Wow. This is rough.’”

Moments earlier, in the midst of his career night, the chiseled Ojeleye had taken a knee from a driving Larry Nance right in the, um, medicine balls. As play continued back up the court, Ojeleye dropped to his knees and tried to collect himself. Eventually, the Celtics called timeout to check on their fallen teammate.

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By the time trainer Nick Sang and rehab manager Steve Mount reached him, Ojeleye was still in a world of hurt.

"I couldn’t feel my legs. I was telling Nick and Steve, ‘Yo, I can’t walk. Y’all gotta help me out,’” said Ojeleye. "They were like, ‘You want a wheelchair? I said, ’No, but I can’t feel my legs. I feel weak.’ That was tough.”

The NBA’s 2019-20 season being indefinitely suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic only feels like a kick below the belt for hoops fans. Before the break, we used Ojeleye’s painful experience as a jumping off point for a potential story.

See, while the NBA’s encyclopedic stats archive does not track such occurrences, it seems anecdotally fair to suggest that no team in the league endured as many groin hits as the Celtics this season. Smart alone seemed to make it a nightly occurrence, to the point where he had to make repeated public declarations for opponents to be more careful. 


Luka Doncic kicked Smart in his manhood in November, leaving Boston’s defensive quarterback doubled over in pain, and Smart later declared, "I don't know what it is. I keep getting kicked in the groin. … We've got to figure out a solution to stop that.”

Danny Ainge decided to have fun with the moment and suggested via social media that he’d inquire with the Red Sox about having a protective cup sent over.

The same night that Ojeleye got hit in Cleveland, Smart was trying to dribble out the clock in the final seconds of the fourth quarter when a misplaced Kevin Love swipe left Smart sprawled on the court again. He limped down the floor and made a pair of free throws to ice the game.

He probably needed ice elsewhere after given the repeated abuse.

The Celtics official injury at halftime of that Cleveland game declared that Ojeleye (knee to the groin) was questionable to return. And when discussing the injury a few days later, Ojeleye couldn't help but squirm.

“I still feel it,” said Ojeleye. Asked if he’d ever been hit that hard below the belt, Ojeleye didn’t hesitate with his response. “No. Never. Oh, man. Just, oof.”

Ojeleye said he truly questioned whether he was going to be able to get back on the court in the second half that night. He did and capped a performance that saw him finish with a career-best 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting in 30 minutes.

Still, that night will be memorable for reasons both good and bad for Ojeleye.

“[Rookie] Romeo [Langford] was like, ‘You gotta protect yourself,’” said Ojeleye. “I told him, if you’re out there, it just happens.”

Celtics' Jaylen Brown organizes peaceful protest in wake of George Floyd's death

File photo

Celtics' Jaylen Brown organizes peaceful protest in wake of George Floyd's death

Jaylen Brown is one of the many Americans speaking out against the death of George Floyd and the racial injustices that remain prevalent in this country.

The Boston Celtics star has been outspoken about the issues over the last several days, and on Saturday he took to social media to organize a peaceful protest in Atlanta.

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Brown also posted an important video message urging those who witness acts of racism to speak up or act on it.

“Being a bystander is no longer acceptable," Brown said. "If you and your friends are around or are witnesses to cultural biases, micro-aggressions, subtle acts of racism, actual racism etc. and you don’t speak up on it or do something about it, you are part of the problem. We’re past the point where if it’s not in your governance space so you have nothing to do with it. If you don’t speak up on these issues, you just as bad.”


In addition, the 23-year-old posted an Instagram photo of himself holding a sign that reads, "I can't breathe," referencing the words said by Floyd before he was killed by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.

Along with Brown, several athletes including Tom Brady and members of the New England Patriots have used their platforms to speak up about George Floyd's death.

Another Larry Bird milestone to assert his place among the all-time greats

Another Larry Bird milestone to assert his place among the all-time greats

BOSTON -- The 1986 Boston Celtics are considered one of the greatest teams of all time, having run through the regular season with ease towards a dominant postseason that ended with the team hanging Banner 16.

But weeks before the franchise’s triumphant conclusion to the season, there was another historic milestone.

Larry Bird was named the league’s MVP 34 years ago this week for the third straight season, a feat that only two others - Bill Russell (1961-1963) and Wilt Chamberlain (1966-1968) - had ever done.

It’s significant because it serves as yet another reminder of how historically great Bird was; not only for the Boston Celtics but for the entire league.

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To carve out a spot in history with such an elusive group speaks to Bird’s greatness as a player who at the very least should be in the conversation as one of the greatest power forwards in NBA history. 

And what made that season even more special was that during the playoffs, the elite level at which Bird played during the regular season did not waiver or lessen up in the games that mattered the most. 

In the playoffs that year, he averaged 25.9 points (0.1 points less than his season average) while increasing his field goal shooting (51.7 percent in the playoffs, 49.6 in the regular season), assists (9.8, from 8.2) and steals (2.1, from 2.0).

And when the game was on the line, the only thing larger than Bird’s ability to come through in the clutch, was his confidence.

“There’s no doubt I’m in control of what I do out there,” Bird said in an interview in 1986. “I can score any number of points my team wants me to if they give me the ball in the right situations.”

And he did, over and over and over again before finally calling it quits on his Hall of Fame career in 1992. 

Throughout his time in Boston, Bird had a number of stretches of brilliance as a basketball player. 

But the three-year run in which he was the league’s best player, resulting in three consecutive league MVP awards, stands out in a career that was filled with standout moments.