Celtics players treasure chance to play on Christmas Day

Celtics players treasure chance to play on Christmas Day

TORONTO — It seems no matter where Enes Kanter goes, a Christmas Day game is on the docket. 

Now with the Celtics, Kanter will be playing on Christmas Day for the fifth straight year with his third different team. 

But make no mistake about it. 

The veteran big man doesn’t take being part of one of the most high-profile nights of the NBA season for granted. 

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“It’s definitely a blessing playing on Christmas Day,” said Kanter, who has played on Christmas Day with Oklahoma City (2015 and 2016) and the New York Knicks (2017 and 2018).

“There’s some in the league … don’t get to play one Christmas game,” he said. “It’s definitely a blessing.”

Few on the Celtics roster know this as well as Kemba Walker. 

In his ninth NBA season, this will be the first time in Walker’s career when he has an actual game to prepare for on Christmas Day. 

Call it one of the perks of playing for a perennial playoff contender. 

“It means a lot for me personally,” Walker said. “I never got a chance to play on Christmas or even have this kind of notoriety. I’m definitely excited for it. As a kid, these are the kind of games you grew up watching. For me to be a part of it, is definitely a special moment.”

It certainly has been for third-year Celtic forward Jayson Tatum who knows nothing but Christmas Day games with Boston, which will be playing on Christmas for the third consecutive season. 

Said Tatum: “It means everything. I’ve been fortunate enough playing for the Celtics to have a lot of big games, been (playing) on Christmas every year. To do what you love to do on Christmas in front of millions of people, that’s all you could ask for.”

For Celtics rookie Grant Williams, playing on Christmas Day is a reminder of just how fortunate he is to begin his career with a team like the Celtics. 

“It’s something you dream about, something you’re thankful for,” Williams told NBC Sports Boston. “You always watch it growing up.”

Williams recalls watching the New York Knicks and Carmelo Anthony play, as well as late-game heroics by then-Chicago star Derrick Rose over the Los Angeles Lakers on Christmas in 2011. 

“It’s exciting to be part of that select group to play on Christmas,” Williams said.


Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Raptors, which tips off Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike and Scal have the call at 12 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

Classic Celtics: Watch Larry Bird's heroics vs. Pacers in 1991 playoffs

Classic Celtics: Watch Larry Bird's heroics vs. Pacers in 1991 playoffs

Larry Bird was one of the most talented players in NBA history.

But he was also tough as nails.

Exhibit A: Game 5 of the Boston Celtics' first-round playoff series with the Indiana Pacers on May, 5, 1991, which NBC Sports Boston will re-air Wednesday night as part of our "Classic Celtics" series.

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Bird suffered a nasty head injury late in the second half of the winner-take-all Game 5, and Celtics fans feared he was done for the game.

The 34-year-old C's legend triumphantly returned in the second half, though -- much to the delight of the raucous Boston Garden crowd -- and incredibly finished with a team-high 32 points to help the Celtics defeat a talented Pacers team 124-121 and win the series, 3-2.

Our re-broadcast of Celtics-Pacers Game 5 begins at 7 p.m. ET on Wednesday and will feature additional commentary from Celtics head coach Brad Stevens, an Indiana native who grew up rooting for the Pacers.

Here's how to watch:

When: Wednesday, April 8, 7 p.m. ET
TV: NBC Sports Boston
Streaming: NBCSportsBoston.com and in the MyTeams app

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Who are the best small forwards in Celtics history? Ranking the Top 10

Who are the best small forwards in Celtics history? Ranking the Top 10

The crazy thing about the small forward position for the Boston Celtics is that the team has enjoyed such sustained longevity at the position that it’s actually a bit challenging to make a Top 10 list.

Larry Bird, John Havlicek, and Paul Pierce combined for 44 seasons (and 12 titles) in green, which makes it a tough for anyone else who played in the 60s, 70s, 80s, or 2000s to state a case for inclusion alongside some of the biggest names in franchise history.

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While those three clearly occupy the top spots on our list, the current iteration of the C's are also well represented, led by a pair of young stars on the rise who could continue to ascend on this list in the coming years.

Here’s what we came up with for Boston’s top 10 small forwards in franchise history.

Click here for the gallery.