BOSTON -- It’s every ball boy’s nightmare.
You leave the safety of the baseline to clean up a slick spot on the court and all of a sudden the action is rushing back at you.
That’s what happened to Celtics longtime ball boy Octavio Cruz on Wednesday night. The Celtics were up 45 points when Cruz ventured out midway through the fourth quarter.
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But, at the other end, Sam Hauser fumbled the ball away in the paint and Brooklyn’s Yuta Watanabe broke out in transition. Poor Cruz was maybe a step inside the 3-point arc when he realized play was streamrolling his way.
Turning on the jets, he dashed for the Celtics' bench where a collection of players, including Grant Williams and Jayson Tatum playfully corralled him.
On a night that otherwise lacked for drama, it was the most exhilarating and memorable sequence of the game. Celtics players were rolling with laughter in the aftermath. Cruz got air time on both NBC Sports Boston and ESPN for the much-needed levity in a lopsided game.
Williams, in particular, was mesmerized by the moment.
"Honestly, he should sign up for the NFL Combine," said Williams. "The way he moves, the way his body moves. Really just the explosiveness that he plays with, his pursuit speed. He did a great job going from a three-point stance and getting out of it. That burst was incredible.
"I've never seen change of direction like that. And the awareness side, because he was able to turn his head, see the blockers coming, and he was able to get around them. He did a phenomenal job."
All’s well that ends well. Cruz avoided interfering with the play (Watanabe got fouled on his layup attempt). On the NBC Sports Boston broadcast, Cruz, nicknamed, "Ocho," earned both a Tommy Point for his hustle and high praise from analyst Brian Scalabrine.
"I’ve played basketball with him," said Scalabrine. "Big-time hooper. I’m not kidding. I prefer to play with him. I would pick him over a lot of NBA players. He can really pass it. The NBA guys, not so much."