Celtics

Irving's biggest assist of the year? Helping bring cleaner water to Kenya

Irving's biggest assist of the year? Helping bring cleaner water to Kenya

BOSTON -- The impact that Boston Celtics star guard Kyrie Irving has made on the game of basketball is undeniable.

The crossover dribble that has left many ankles in the NBA sore afterwards, the ability to finish at the rim or drain a clutch, late-game 3-pointer … we’ve seen him do it all time and time again.

And he’s managed to get his teammates involved as well in what has been a banner season for the six-time All-Star when it comes to passing the ball.

But the biggest assist Irving is making has nothing to do with what happens on that 94-by-50-foot basketball court.

It can be found thousands of miles away from Boston in Kenya, where Irving is lending a hand — his jersey actually — to help bring cleaner drinking water to the country.

According to water.org, there are 19 million people who lack access to clean water in Kenya.

Through Underdogs United, which helps professional athletes exchange their jerseys for sportswear with “clean water solutions stitched in,” Irving’s No. 11 Celtics Jersey is being auctioned off with the proceeds going towards clean water initiatives for schools in rural Kenya through a partnership with Impact Water.

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Irving isn’t the only NBA player involved with Underdogs United, but according to the Underdogs United founder it was Irving who got the ball rolling.

"Kyrie was the first high-profile athlete to commit to the Global Jersey Exchange, and his leadership really catalyzed the initiative,” said Stephen Gabauer, founder of Underdogs United. “Since Kyrie joined, we've partnered with over 100 professional athletes, including 10 other NBA stars (Golden State’s Stephen Curry being one of them). With their support, we've now reached over 10,000 children with safe drinking water. We're excited about Kyrie's auction and the lasting impact it will create in our partner communities for years to come."

In addition to providing cleaner water to rural Kenya, Underdogs United also employs Kenyan tailors and designers who collaborate to provide the athletes with Kenyan-inspired jerseys.

“Stitching Irving’s jersey has been a project of a lifetime for me,” said Vindah Kanana, the tailor for Irving’s jersey. “I’ve been a tailor for most of my life, and I have just shared my work with the local community. It‘s beautiful to make such a personal gift for someone overseas. On behalf of our community, I would like to say thank you to Irving for helping our schools with their water supply. God bless.”

Mariam Naipanoi, who designed Irving’s jersey, had similar sentiments.

"I was a center on my high school basketball team, so I keep up with the NBA,” Naipanoi said. “To create an original design for Kyrie, influenced by my Kenyan heritage, is an opportunity I could only dream of. It's been amazing to see how this initiative is positively impacting our community and the health of our children."

The auction for Irving’s jersey, which can be found on gounderdogs.org, is open until March 26 at 8 p.m. EST.

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Classic Celtics: Watch thrilling finishes during 'Iconic Moments Week'

Classic Celtics: Watch thrilling finishes during 'Iconic Moments Week'

The Boston Celtics have won 371 playoff games over their storied franchise history -- and a few stand out above the rest.

NBC Sports Boston's "Classic Celtics" series will continue during the week of Monday, May 25, by re-broadcasting five more C's playoff games that feature "iconic moments" we still remember to this day.

We'll take you as far back as the 1970s to a triple-overtime thriller against the Phoenix Suns and also re-live some recent heroics during Boston's latest championship run in 2008.

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Here's the full lineup for "Iconic Moments Week," which includes a new re-broadcast every night of the week starting at 8 p.m. ET:

'Iconic Moments' Week

Monday, May 25: Celtics vs. Pacers, 1991 First Round Game 5
Larry Bird returns from injuring his cheek in the first half to lead the Celtics to a playoff victory over the Indiana Pacers.   

Tuesday, May 26: Celtics vs. Lakers, 2008 NBA Finals Game 1
Paul Pierce exits in a wheelchair but returns later in the game to help the C's beat the rival Lakers at TD Garden. 

Wednesday, May 27: Celtics vs. Pistons, 1987 Eastern Conference Finals Game 5
Larry Bird steals the game, literally, for the Celtics in a pivotal Game 5.   

Thursday, May 28: Celtics vs. Lakers, 1984 NBA Finals Game 2
Gerald Henderson steals James Worthy’s inbound pass with 13 seconds left in the game to tie it, and the Celtics win in overtime to tie the series.  

Friday, May 29: Celtics vs. Suns, 1976 NBA Finals Game 5 
In what many call "the greatest game ever played," the Celtics outlast the Suns in three overtimes.

The action begins Monday at 8 p.m. on NBC Sports Boston, where Brian Scalabrine will be joined by several key players in these games for additional color commentary.

Here's how to watch:

When: May 25, May 26, May 27, May 28 and May 29, 8 p.m. ET
TV: NBC Sports Boston
Streaming: NBCSportsBoston.com and the MyTeams app (except May 25)

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Danny Ainge reveals why he initially rejected Celtics GM job offer

Danny Ainge reveals why he initially rejected Celtics GM job offer

Seventeen years ago, the Boston Celtics hired Danny Ainge to be their executive director of basketball operations and general manager.

Getting Ainge on board wasn't an easy task, though.

After spending seven-and-a-half seasons as a player on the C's in the 1980s, one would think Ainge would pounce on the opportunity to run one of the NBA's most iconic franchises. However, that was not the case as he was comfortable with his role as an analyst on TNT's NBA broadcast.

Celtics owners Wyc Grousbeck and Steve Pagliuca extended the job offer to Ainge twice, but he rejected it both times before finally accepting it in May of 2003. Ainge explained in more detail why he was hesitant to take the job in a recent conversation with Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe.

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“They (Grousbeck and Pagliuca) told me that (former Celtics president) Red (Auerbach) had recommended that they hire me,” Ainge told Washburn. “I was flattered and I told them thank you. My three older kids had graduated from high school. I have my three youngest at home, so life is a little bit different. I told them I was not interested in the job and I gave them names of people in the league and some former Celtic players they should interview.

“I didn’t jump at it. It wasn’t anything I was looking to really do. As time went on, they had come a second time and a third time while I was broadcasting. I sensed my wife was warming up to the idea. Eventually, I said yes.”

With Ainge at the helm, the Celtics later won their 17th NBA title in 2008. After the championship season, Ainge was promoted to president of basketball operations.

Seems like taking the job turned out to be the right choice.