Celtics

Marcus Smart compares Kemba Walker to ex-Celtics teammate Isaiah Thomas

Marcus Smart compares Kemba Walker to ex-Celtics teammate Isaiah Thomas

Kemba Walker has yet to take the court in a Celtics uniform, but he's already is receiving rave reviews from his new teammates.

In fact, the 29-year-old is drawing comparisons to a former beloved Celtic: Isaiah Thomas.

Speaking about Walker on Tuesday with Joe Vardon of The Athletic, the C's longest-tenured player Marcus Smart discussed the similarities he sees between the two point guards.

“We had a little guy like that, similar to that on our team in Isaiah Thomas," Smart told The Athletic. "It’s kind of funny some of those little guys that can score the ball, they have an energy and a motor about them you don’t see very often."

It's a fair comparison to make. The 6-foot-1 Walker has seen his average points per game average increase nearly every season since he was selected by the Charlotte Bobcats in the first round of the 2011 NBA Draft. For two seasons, the 5-foot-9 Thomas was Boston's premier scoring threat.

But at this point in Walker's career, he's more than just a scorer. The UConn product has made it a point to improve on the defensive side of the ball, and Smart -- an NBA All-Defensive First Team member last year -- has taken notice.

“The dude can actually play defense,” Smart told The Athletic. “Guys who score the ball can kinda get that notion that, you know, they’re not really good defenders. Especially him being a little guy, it’s probably harder to play against him because of a lower center of gravity. Plus, he’s feisty. So he’s really good, he’s a really good defender and he plays both ends.

“You didn’t get to really see that a lot from him because he exerted so much energy on the offensive end that he had to take a couple of breaks off on the defensive end, understandably.”

Walker has been putting that energy on display this summer at the 2019 FIBA World Cup, most recently powering Team USA to a win over Brazil with a team-high 16 points.

Celtics fans can look forward to Walker donning the Green and White for the first time in the regular-season opener Oct. 23 vs. the 76ers.

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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.