Celtics

Morris' tough love exactly what Celtics need now

Morris' tough love exactly what Celtics need now

BOSTON -- When the Marcus Morris trade with Detroit went down in 2017, I made a point of reaching out to some of my Detroit connections (I spent nearly a decade covering the Pistons when they were really good in the 2000s) just to see what the Celtics were getting in Morris. 

The most commonly used words in describing him were “tough” and “versatile.”

But the one word no one uttered about him was leader. 

However, reflecting upon the incident he had with Jaylen Brown in the 115-99 loss at Miami on Thursday, there is absolutely no question that what we saw on that video was a brand of leadership from Morris that this Celtics team desperately needs. 

Kyrie Irving preaches patience when it comes to his youthful teammates all the time, while trying to balance that with still challenging them. 

And Al Horford is a respected veteran who is also a man of few words, preferring to instead lead by example.

Those are all noble approaches to leadership. 

But when the stakes are as high as they are for the Celtics this season, there has to be someone willing to initiate those frank, straight-no-chaser, high accountability-driven conversations that are uncomfortable because more likely than not, feelings will get hurt. 

Morris?

Yup. 

He’s that dude!

“To be the team we want to be, we have to be open with each other and be able to discuss things that are going on, on the court,” Morris told reporters in Orlando. “If it leads to a little bumping, pushing and shoving...it’s nothing. You move past that type of stuff and keep going.”’

And that is essentially what he and Brown have made of the incident that stemmed from Brown not getting back quick enough on defense, which led to a Miami Heat lay-up and on the sideline, Morris pushing Brown before Marcus Smart - yes, Marcus Smart - intervened. 

Morris, Brown and coach Brad Stevens downplayed the incident, acknowledging that those kinds of run-ins happen all the time in the NBA especially when you’re talking about a highly competitive team with winning a title as a legit and realistic goal. 

They’re right. 

But the issue that so many had with it, was that it happened in the middle of a game with thousands of eyeballs and at least one camera phone that captured the incident for the entire world to see. 

“It’s not weird. You see it all the time,” Brown said when asked about seeing the incident go viral. “In this case, it’s nothing major.”

Actually, it’s a pretty big deal but not for the reasons you might be thinking. 

Morris has been the most consistent player on this team all season, the one player who seems to understand what playing with a sense of urgency all the time really means. 

But as much as they need his scoring and rebounding and defense to win games, they also need him to become more of a leader. 

And the way he leads is the way he plays - hard, in your face, no apologies. 

It has the potential to leave some with hurt feelings and in the heat of the moment, tempers will likely flare. 

But Morris doesn’t care. 

He wants to win it all this year, something he has not been the least bit coy about acknowledging. 

And to do so, it’s going to take all the Celtics to be at the top of their game and come as close to reaching their full potential talent-wise as they can. 

If you’re doing that, he’ll be your biggest cheerleader. 

If you’re not, he’ll let you know. 

How you handle that, is your business. 

Helping the Celtics win games, whether it’s with his play or leadership, is his. 

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Celtics' Jaylen Brown participates in peaceful protest in Atlanta

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Celtics' Jaylen Brown participates in peaceful protest in Atlanta

BOSTON -- The death of George Floyd in Minnesota after ex-police officer Derek Chauvin planted his knee firmly on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes, 46 seconds, has brought many throughout the country to protest the rising number of police brutality-related incidents. 

You can count Boston Celtics’ Jaylen Brown among them. 

Brown was in Atlanta on Saturday participating in a peaceful protest and explained why through his IG Live account why he made the 15-hour drive to be there. 

“Being a celebrity, being an NBA player doesn’t exclude me from those conversations, at all,” Brown said. “First and foremost I’m a black man and I am a member of this community and I grew up on this soil. So, I want to say that first and foremost.”

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Brown was among those in Atlanta walking the streets with signage, making a statement in an undeniably peaceful manner which was in contrast to what was happening in other major cities across America. 

“It’s a peaceful protest; we’re walking, that’s it,” he said. “Raising awareness to some of the injustices we’ve been seeing. It’s not OK. As a young person, you have to listen to our perspective; our voices need to be heard.

Brown added, “I’m 23 years old. I don’t know all the answers. But I feel like how everybody else is feeling, for sure.”

Another Larry Bird milestone to assert his place among the all-time greats

Another Larry Bird milestone to assert his place among the all-time greats

BOSTON -- The 1986 Boston Celtics are considered one of the greatest teams of all time, having run through the regular season with ease towards a dominant postseason that ended with the team hanging Banner 16.

But weeks before the franchise’s triumphant conclusion to the season, there was another historic milestone.

Larry Bird was named the league’s MVP 34 years ago this week for the third straight season, a feat that only two others - Bill Russell (1961-1963) and Wilt Chamberlain (1966-1968) - had ever done.

It’s significant because it serves as yet another reminder of how historically great Bird was; not only for the Boston Celtics but for the entire league.

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To carve out a spot in history with such an elusive group speaks to Bird’s greatness as a player who at the very least should be in the conversation as one of the greatest power forwards in NBA history. 

And what made that season even more special was that during the playoffs, the elite level at which Bird played during the regular season did not waiver or lessen up in the games that mattered the most. 

In the playoffs that year, he averaged 25.9 points (0.1 points less than his season average) while increasing his field goal shooting (51.7 percent in the playoffs, 49.6 in the regular season), assists (9.8, from 8.2) and steals (2.1, from 2.0).

And when the game was on the line, the only thing larger than Bird’s ability to come through in the clutch, was his confidence.

“There’s no doubt I’m in control of what I do out there,” Bird said in an interview in 1986. “I can score any number of points my team wants me to if they give me the ball in the right situations.”

And he did, over and over and over again before finally calling it quits on his Hall of Fame career in 1992. 

Throughout his time in Boston, Bird had a number of stretches of brilliance as a basketball player. 

But the three-year run in which he was the league’s best player, resulting in three consecutive league MVP awards, stands out in a career that was filled with standout moments.