Celtics

Gregg Popovich had a ruthless roast of Jayson Tatum during Team USA meeting

Gregg Popovich had a ruthless roast of Jayson Tatum during Team USA meeting

Gregg Popovich thinks very highly of Jayson Tatum.

That means he holds the Boston Celtics star to a high standard -- and isn't afraid to call him out.

The San Antonio Spurs coach was Tatum's boss on Team USA this past summer as it competed in the 2019 FIBA World Cup. And during one film session, Popovich apparently put Tatum on blast for a defensive shortcoming.

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Via Jackie MacMullan's feature on Tatum for ESPN.com:

"I wish I could be you!" boomed USA Basketball coach Gregg Popovich, striding toward the young Boston Celtics forward in a film room in China. "Then I could stand in the corner with my 7-foot-long arms down by my side and not move while players go past me!"

Popovich's jab caused "unsuccessfully stifled peals of laughter" from Tatum's teammates, according to MacMullan, and USA teammate Marcus Smart called the exchange "awesome."

Popovich had good intentions, though, offering Tatum some very high praise just a few days after that meeting.

"Do you know how special you can be?" Popovich asked Tatum, according to MacMullan. "There are very few two-way players in our game, and you have the opportunity to be one of them.

"You could be like Kawhi [Leonard] and Paul George."

Popovich made similar comments about Tatum earlier this month, expressing his belief that the 21-year-old forward can be a "genuine" two-way player if he realizes his defensive potential.

Tatum certainly is on the right track: According to NBA.com, he ranks third in the NBA in defensive win shares (minimum of 15 games played) behind only Giannis Antetokounmpo and Joel Embiid. He also boasts a 11.1 net rating, nearly double his 6.8 net rating from last season.

The third-year forward still has room for improvement -- we'll find out Thursday night if he'll make his first All-Star team -- but the fact that he's good enough to get ripped by Popovich is a promising sign.

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This story shows just how excited Kemba Walker was to become a Celtic

This story shows just how excited Kemba Walker was to become a Celtic

Boston Celtics fans were ecstatic last summer to find out Kemba Walker would be their new starting point guard, and the feeling was mutual.

After Walker agreed to join the C's on a four-year, $141 million max deal, he couldn't help but tell the world. Walker's sister, Sharifa Nesbitt, described Kemba's excitement upon joining the Celtics in an excellent feature written by Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe.

When Walker and his sister returned to Charlotte on June 27, his decision had been all but made. A man at the airport asked if he was going to re-sign with the Hornets, and Walker told him that he was going to become a Celtic, breaking the news himself in a busy terminal.

'He was telling whoever would ask,” Sharifa said with a chuckle. 'He was just happy.'

It's been all smiles for Walker on the court during the 2019-20 season as well. The 29-year-old has quickly become the heart and soul of the C's and has drastically improved the team's chemistry after last year's tumultuous campaign.

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After what Walker went through with the Charlotte Hornets, it's no surprise he was so thrilled to join a perennial contender like Boston. Charlotte only had two winning seasons since drafting Walker in 2011.

Walker is averaging 20.0 points, 4.9 assists, and 4.1 rebounds through 50 games played this season, and he'll be a huge factor in the Celtics' success if and when the NBA season finally resumes.

You can read Himmelsbach's full feature on Walker here.

Celtics' Marcus Smart makes perfect comment about NBA's HORSE challenge

Celtics' Marcus Smart makes perfect comment about NBA's HORSE challenge

We'll finally get to see some basketball action -- sort of -- when NBA's "HORSE Challenge" begins Sunday night.

Unfortunately, Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart won't be participating despite being a master trick-shot artist.  He did, however, chime in with an idea for a contest he'd love to be a part of.

"Let’s play H-O-R-S-E with defense and see how that works out ;)," he tweeted Thursday night.

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Sounds right up the potential Defensive Player of the Year's alley.

Although Smart won't get the chance to show off his trick-shot prowess, one former Celtic will. Paul Pierce is set to be one of the eight contestants in the competition.

Smart tested positive for the coronavirus last month, but he has since been cleared. The 26-year-old recently appeared on CNN to discuss the importance of social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic and donated his plasma to the National COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Project.