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NEW YORK -- When Tacko Fall is on the bench, more times than not he’s paying attention to the action on the floor, chatting with teammates or an assistant coach, looking at the way Boston’s bigs are moving on the floor and executing with the knowledge that someday he would get an opportunity to do so.
But on Saturday, Fall’s first NBA game on the Boston Celtics’ active roster, he found himself doing a bit more scoreboard watching than usual.
Fall knew as well as anyone the bigger Boston’s lead grew against the New York Knicks, the more likely he was to get a chance to see his first NBA action.
“The lead was 11, then 13, 15 … it got up to 20 and I was like, ‘it’s time,’” Fall told NBC Sports Boston.
With 3:59 to play and the Celtics ahead by 25 points, Tacko Fall made his NBA debut before finishing with four points and three rebounds as part of Boston’s 118-95 win.
Fall’s first points as an NBA player came on - what else? - a dunk just 21 seconds after he checked into the game. He followed that up seconds later with another basket as the Madison Square Garden crowd gave him the kind of applause you seldom hear given to a two-way contract player, let alone one who plays for the Boston Celtics.
But as we have all seen with Tacko-mania, the connection that fans have drawn to him has no partisan divide.
And Fall, as he has done throughout his time in Boston, doesn’t seem the least bit swayed or overwhelmed with all the adulation and attention that comes his way by doing the simplest things such as checking into a game or catching the ball on the block.
“It’s just a blessing to be out there,” Fall said. “Not everyone gets the opportunity I have right now. Like I said, it’s definitely a blessing and I don’t take it for granted.”
Celtics coach Brad Stevens is among those impressed with the way the 7-foot-7 Fall has handled the immense amount of attention that is primarily generated because of his height.
“I don’t know if anybody not drafted in the top two or three has ever felt the kind of stuff he feels when he touches the ball,” Stevens said. “I just want people to appreciate him for how good of a kid he is and how hard he is working to make the NBA. Everyone is yelling about his size; I get it. But I hope people appreciate him for who he is and how hard he’s working.”
His teammates certainly do, which is why they are among the first to cheer him on with each and every successful milestone he reaches.
“Even somewhere like this, that’s so well known for basketball, is almost considered a rival, for them to be cheering for him, it’s crazy,” Boston’s Carsen Edwards told NBC Sports Boston. “But he deserves it. He’s a good guy, puts in the work. At the end of the day, he doesn’t want to be a distraction. He’s just trying to be the best he can for this team. At the end of the day, if anybody gets that kind of love I’m glad it’s Tacko.”
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