Enes Kanter wasn't around for the Boston Celtics' tumultuous 2018-19 campaign. But he found out pretty quickly that things didn't end well that season.
"When I visited the Mayor of Boston or when I visited the Governor, they all said the same thing: 'Wow, this year's team is way different than last year's team,' " Kanter said Thursday on The Ringer's "The Bill Simmons Podcast." "I'm like, 'What happened last year that everyone like the Governor and the Mayor and everybody talks about it?' "
Kanter and Kemba Walker joined the Celtics last summer as Kyrie Irving, Al Horford, Terry Rozier and several players from that 2018-19 squad departed. That roster overhaul provided Boston opportunity for a fresh start after flaming out in the second round of the 2019 NBA playoffs.
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According to Kanter, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens seized on that opportunity in one of his first meetings with the 2019-20 team.
"The important thing for us is to just build that chemistry," Kanter told Simmons. "For us it was so important: The better friends we become, the better teammates we are going to be.
"So, we knew that from day one. Coach Brad said, 'Hey: the important thing is just becoming good friends, always having each other's back no matter what. On the court, whether we're right or wrong, have each other's back.' "
As C's fans have observed, Walker has been instrumental in Boston's improved chemistry: The All-Star point guard has integrated seamlessly with young stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown and the rest of the roster.
That's a testament to Walker's personality, which Kanter insisted was unlike any player of his caliber in the NBA.
"I've played with so many players, it's my ninth year in the league. He is definitely the most humble and down-to-earth superstar that I have seen and played with," Kanter said of Walker.
"The dude is just good, man. A good human being. Obviously I can't say enough about his game and it's crazy what he does on the court, but off the court, man, he's just a good dude. Very down-to-earth, very humble, always trying to help others, trying to help the rookies out."
The Celtics' ability to get along has produced results: They're the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference entering the restarted season in Orlando and could be a dark-horse NBA title contender if Walker can stay healthy (which admittedly is a big "if").
The simple fact that the Celtics like each other also will go a long way toward their success in the playoffs -- and Kanter is bullish on how far they can go.
"We're just focusing on us, because I feel like we have enough talent in that locker room to beat anybody," he added. "We just need to stay together."