PORTLAND, Maine -- The day was supposed to be about the Celtics taking over ownership of the Maine Red Claws, a move that strengthens an already Teflon-tough bond that has existed for years between the two franchises.
“This is important to the Celtics player development efforts,” said Rich Gotham, Celtics team president. “We love the market up here. You might think it’s a hockey state if you didn’t know any better. But you find out quickly it really is a great basketball state, so we’re happy to be in Maine and being in a vibrant city like Portland.”
But anything Celtics-related in some way, shape or form these days will come back to Tacko Fall, the 7-foot-6 sensation who attracts attention anywhere he’s at - and, in this case, where he’ll be in the near future.
Fall recently signed a two-way contract with the Celtics, which means the bulk of this season will be spent in Maine as a member of the Red Claws, the C's Gatorade League affiliate.
Undrafted out of Central Florida in last June’s draft, Fall has been on the minds of Red Claws fans for quite a while, actually.
“After his first appearance in summer league with the Celtics, we couldn’t go a day in the state of Maine without someone asking, “Is Tacko going to be in Maine?” said Dajuan Eubanks, the Red Claws team president.
The good folks of Maine will get their wish now that Fall has been signed to the two-way contract, which allows him to spend no more than 45 days with the Celtics while the rest of his time will be spent with the Red Claws.
“For us, it’s going to be great to have someone of that stature,” Eubanks said. “He has a lot of promise as well. I’m excited to have him here and develop.”
But TackoMania is clearly not just a New England or Celtics thing.
Everywhere the Celtics have played, Fall has become an instant fan favorite with chants of “We Want Tacko” beginning sometime around the latter stages of the first quarter or in the second, even though he has played primarily in the fourth quarter this preseason.
While it’s still to be determined whether he will start or how many minutes he will play, there’s no question that the Red Claws have every intention of finding a way to utilize him on the floor, certainly more than he has been used by the Celtics in the preseason.
“Development is such a huge part of what we do, making players better on and off the court,” said Austin Ainge, the Celtics’ director of player personnel. “And the G-League has now become an essential part of that.”
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