Celtics

Snowball fights, hugs, and Thanksgiving feasts for good-vibe Celtics

Snowball fights, hugs, and Thanksgiving feasts for good-vibe Celtics

BOSTON — Watching teammates pressed up against their windows as the Boston Celtics’ charter flight knifed through the flakes and touched down at snow-covered Hanscom Air Force Base on Sunday night, Robert Williams had a feeling what was about to unfold.

"Somebody was going to start a snowball fight,” said Williams. "I felt like it was going to happen as soon as we got off the plane. Enes [Kanter] was the first person — he for sure started it.”

Indeed, the Celtics capped their brief holiday excursion in the Empire State with an impromptu snow war. Kanter, camera recording, gleefully captured direct hits on Williams, a fleeing Carsen Edwards, an unsuspecting Daniel Theis, and even poor Tacko Fall, who wanted no part of the shenanigans.

“As soon as we landed, I looked outside and was like, ‘Oh, it’s snowing!’ What is the first thing you do when it’s snowing? You make a snowman or you have a snowball fight,” said Kanter, who detailed the snowball fight for Episode 4 of “The Enes Kanter Show” on the NBC Sports Boston podcast network. You can watch the full episode Wednesday morning on YouTube or listen on your favorite podcasting app.

“So, some of the players were waiting for the bags. I made a snowball and threw it at Rob, and then Rob started throwing at somebody else. We started this crazy snow fight.”

Amid the childlike glee, some players grabbed their bags and beelined for their vehicles, Kanter and Williams lobbing snow grenades as players skidded across the tarmac.

“The one person who wasn't fighting back was Tacko,” said Kanter. “I was like, ‘Tacko, this is not how you play snowball.’ I threw him a snowball and he lifted his head and started shaking it and started running away. I told him, 'That’s not how you play snowball. You gotta throw it back.’”

Fall, who had been excited last month to see snow for the first time, has already gotten his fair share of the white stuff between Boston and Maine and confirmed he simply wanted to get out of the cold.

Louisiana native Robert Williams, though, soaked up the moment.

"It was fun, man,” said Williams. "A lot of us didn’t grow up seeing snow. So we did that, then drove around at like 3 miles per hour trying to get home. But it was a fun deal.”

Kanter’s spliced footage went viral and became the latest exhibit of “Look at how much fun these Celtics are having!” But it was merely the culmination of a good-vibe weekend that started with Bronx-native Kemba Walker opening his doors to teammates and their families for a Thanksgiving night feast.

Walker’s mother, Andrea, cooked up a spread that earned rave reviews. Kanter chowed down on the turkey — and endured all the usual jokes about being from Turkey. What dish did Williams like best?

"The jerk chicken, for sure,” said Williams. "Kemba’s mom made good-ass chicken. I ain’t going to lie.

"It was a great experience for Kemba and his family to invite us over. It was great food. Just great vibes, all of us together, spending time with each other off the court.”

This seems like a good spot to be clear that not every good-vibe adventure ensures long-term chemistry. We all remember the positive vibes the Celtics were gushing back in March after a long cross-country flight in which Kyrie Irving supposedly brought teammates together by pleading for more interpersonal communication.

Boston opened that trip with a lopsided win over the Golden State Warriors and it was fair to wonder if some of the tension over the team’s wayward ways had been righted. They weren’t, and Boston found that out when the Bucks won four straight games to bounce them from the second round of the playoffs a month and a half later.

There's been nothing but positive vibes emanating from the Auerbach Center since Boston drafted a group of lighthearted rookies and Irving made his departure official by signing with the rival Nets. The Celtics brought in Walker and Kanter with a goal of both remaining competitive after losing Irving and Al Horford, but also providing a palette cleanser with the way the 2018-19 season left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth.

These new-look Celtics have yet to encounter much adversity. Kanter needled Irving at his introductory press conference while announcing he wanted to be the reason no one wears No. 11 again in Boston. Walker blended seamlessly with new teammates Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, and Jayson Tatum during their trip to China for the FIBA World Cup. Boston has won 14 of its first 19 games, even with some injury woes, and players are certain they haven’t played their best basketball yet.

We’ll see how this team reacts when things really go sideways for the first time but, for now, it’s nothing but positive energy. With Kevin Garnett wondering whether Irving had the “cajones” for playing in Boston, Walker and Kanter can’t get enough of this group and their new surroundings.

On Monday night, the eternally pleasant Kanter tweeted how he missed his family. Vincent Poirier, a French import patiently waiting for his chance at more NBA minutes, sought out Kanter in the trainer’s room on Tuesday morning.

“You wanted a hug, I got you, man,” said Poirier, recording as he wrapped his arms around Kanter on the trainer’s table. “You’re going to be alright.”

The two were back at each other’s necks in 1-on-1 work a short time later. But that’s how it goes. These guys are always ready for competition.

Whether it’s on the court or a snowball flight next to the team plane.

"I did good [in the snowball fight],” said Williams. "I think I got Javonte [Green]. I got Carsen, too, I think. I got Enes — but Enes got everybody, though.”

Kanter said Theis nailed him in retaliation then fled off in his car. Kanter loved everything about the moment. And it seems safe to say that the fun is, ahem, snowballing around here.

“In the end, I understand we’re all NBA players, but we’re like big kids,” said Kanter. “If you could hear some of the conversations we have in the locker room, you would crack up. It's the funniest. If the fun is not there, then you’re not doing your job. In the end, we are entertainers, we entertain people, but we have to have fun, too.

“We see [teammates] more than our families. Going out and having fun with them, that’s what it’s all about. A snowball fight, going to dinner, movies, making fun of each other. It’s always fun.”

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Heat, which tips off Wednesday at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Tommy & Mike have the call at 7:30 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

Karl-Anthony Towns dealing with wrist injury, will miss game vs. Celtics

Karl-Anthony Towns dealing with wrist injury, will miss game vs. Celtics

It doesn't look like the Boston Celtics will have to face Karl-Anthony Towns coming out of the All-Star break.

The Celtics are taking on the Timberwolves in Minnesota on Friday night, their first night back after eight days off. The Timberwolves will be without Towns for that contest as he deals with a left wrist injury.

Towns didn't practice on Wednesday as a result of the injury. And per The Athletic's Jon Krawczynski, Timberwolves coach Ryan Saunders said Towns would miss games with the injury.

While the team hasn't officially confirmed that he's out, Friday's game is the Wolves' first back from the All-Star break. So, if Towns is set to miss multiple games, as Saunders implied, he will be out Friday.

Towns has averaged 26.5 points, 10.8 rebounds, 4.4 asissts, and 1.2 blocks per game for Minnesota this season. Despite his success, the Wolves have logged just a 16-37 record and have the second-worst record in the West, ahead of only the lowly Golden State Warriors. 

The Celtics will be happy not to face Towns. Over the course of eight career games against the C's, Towns is averaging 21.9 points and 14.8 rebounds per game. And though Daniel Theis and Enes Kanter have outperformed expectations this year, they may have had trouble guarding the talented big man.

This Friday is Jayson Tatum Day here at NBC Sports Boston. Be sure to check out our exclusive content around Tatum throughout the day, both online and on the broadcast of Celtics-Timberwolves, which begins Friday at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 8 p.m. You can also stream it on the MyTeams App.

Joe Harris calls Jayson Tatum Team USA's 'best player' from 2019 FIBA World Cup

Joe Harris calls Jayson Tatum Team USA's 'best player' from 2019 FIBA World Cup

The Boston Celtics had a prominent presence on Team USA during the summer of 2019. The squad that competed for the FIBA World Cup title featured four members of the Celtics: Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart.

While the team lost early in the tournament and snapped a historically-long undefeated streak for Team USA via an exhibition loss to Australia, the group did have some nice moments. And it's worth noting that one Team USA player thought a Celtics player shined brightest of all during the tournament.

As Brooklyn Nets shooting guard Joe Harris explained, he thought Tatum was the best of the bunch for the USA squad.

“I thought Jayson was probably the best player on our team this summer,” said Harris at NBA's All-Star weekend, per Joe Vardon of The Athletic. “Obviously there were a lot of talented guys there. Unfortunately he got hurt halfway through our trip, but he was leading us in a lot of different areas. It wasn’t this huge statistical thing, I think it was more the presence that he had. What I saw, what he brought every day to practice. It was one of those things where he is super young, but he didn’t act like it, he didn’t play like it, and I could’ve told you this summer that he’d have a pretty good chance to be here today as an All-Star.”

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

Tatum only played in two games for Team USA after suffering a sprained ankle, but he did average 24.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. That closely mirrors the 22.4 points and 6.9 boards that he has averaged so far during the 2019-20 season, his first All-Star campaign. And Tatum only playing in the two wins, not the two losses, is notable as well.

But Harris' point about Tatum having a presence and playing beyond his years may be even more important. If he can continue to develop, keep that presence about him and emerge as a leader, there's no telling what his ceiling could be.

Tatum will look to continue his hot play of late following the All-Star break. And no matter what happens with the C's, it seems that Tatum is tracking toward becoming a star player at the NBA level.

And his peers, like Harris, are recognizing that.

This Friday is Jayson Tatum Day here at NBC Sports Boston. Be sure to check out our exclusive content around Tatum throughout the day, both online and on the broadcast of Celtics-Timberwolves, which begins Friday at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 8 p.m. You can also stream it on the MyTeams App.