Celtics

T.J. McConnell recalls how Brad Stevens, Celtics embarrassed him in NBA debut

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T.J. McConnell recalls how Brad Stevens, Celtics embarrassed him in NBA debut

Life as a rookie in any professional sports league is going to come with its bumps along the way. Opposing players and coaches can sense blood in the water, and they'll go after the inexperienced player until they prove they can handle it.

That's exactly what happened to 76ers guard T.J. McConnell, who made his debut against the Celtics in October 2015. McConnell relayed how Brad Stevens and the Celtics attacked him right from the get-go in an appearance on the "Woj Pod" with ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

"It was one of the most embarassing moments of my life, and one of those gut-check moments where Isaiah Thomas, in my opinion one of the most unguardable guys that I've played against, and you got a coach like Brad Stevens — they called a play as soon as I checked in and Isaiah came off, scored. I come back down, Boston brings the ball back down, I look over at Brad [Stevens] and he goes ‘Again.’

"And Isaiah gets someone a lob. We go back down, don’t score and I look over at Brad and he goes ‘Again.’ I'm like 'Oh, my goodness gracious.' And Isaiah scores again.

"I think I got subbed out after that and I was like ‘Welcome to the NBA.’"

Thomas saw Woj's tweet about McConnell's story and had some kind words for the Sixers guard, treating him way better on Twitter than he did on the court that night at the TD Garden.

McConnell scored just four points in that debut game, a 112-95 Celtics victory, and it kicked off a pretty brutal stretch to kick off his NBA career. Philadelphia started that 2015-16 season with 18 straight losses, and hit Christmas with a ludicrous 1-30 record.

Now McConnell is the last remaining member of that squad, which ended the season with a 10-72 mark, and he's enjoying playing for one of the top teams in the East. But he won't forget that debut appearance when Stevens and Thomas left a lasting memory by torching the rook.

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Kyrie Irving was mulling Celtics exit in December, Spencer Dinwiddie says

Kyrie Irving was mulling Celtics exit in December, Spencer Dinwiddie says

In early October 2018, Kyrie Irving stood in front of a TD Garden crowd and said he planned on re-signing with the Boston Celtics the following offseason.

Two months later, he already was plotting a move elsewhere.

That's according to Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie, who told The Athletic's Shams Charania that Irving contacted him in December about the possibility of playing in New York for the Knicks or Nets.

"The first time he reached out was maybe like December, in terms of loosely talking about it, because he was still focused on his season and everything," Dinwiddie said.

Dinwiddie had befriended Irving in September when the two attended a Harvard Business School course together. And when Irving contacted him, the Nets guard got the sense he may be open to leaving Boston.

"You could just tell from the conversation that it was a little bit different," Dinwiddie said. "... Actually, it definitely was December because he made a comment to me, he was like, 'New York might be real fun next year,' because I hadn't signed yet. ... That's when I was first tipped off to the whole thing."

Dinwiddie had yet to sign his contract extension with Brooklyn at the time, but after landing the deal on Dec. 13, he embarked on a campaign to convince Irving and Kevin Durant to come to the Nets instead of joining the Knicks.

The 26-year-old said he spoke to Irving "a ton" about Brooklyn's style of play, a family-oriented organizational mindset under general manager Sean Marks and a top-notch training staff.

"Of course I'm going to be like, 'Bro, it's perfect for you,' " Dinwiddie added. " ' And (head coach) Kenny (Atkinson) gonna let you rock.' "

Irving apparently managed to keep his intentions from the Celtics for a few more months, as president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said he didn't get the sense his point guard was leaving until March or April.

But Dinwiddie's revelation is proof that Irving either soured on the C's very quickly or was simply being disingenuous in October.

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Grant Williams confirms new Celtics jersey number on Instagram story

Grant Williams confirms new Celtics jersey number on Instagram story

The Boston Celtics' roster is starting to take shape, which means one thing: It's time for the rookies to pick their real jersey numbers.

Grant Williams, who originally was assigned No. 40 with the Celtics, had digit decisions on the mind early Monday morning -- and may have settled on a choice.

Here's a screenshot from the No. 22 overall' pick's Instagram story:

Williams wore No. 2 at Tennessee, but that's not an option in Boston, where No. 2 is retired for legendary team president and coach Red Auerbach. It sounds like Williams is intent on taking No. 12, though.

That number is certainly available after Terry Rozier signed with the Charlotte Hornets in free agency this summer. No. 12 has gotten quite the use, too: 33 players have worn the number -- including Jerry Sichting, Dominique Wilkins, Chris Herren and Ricky Davis -- making it the most-used number in team history.

Williams played well enough in NBA Summer League to earn himself an official contract with Boston, and it seems he's ready to become a "real" member of the team by snagging the uniform of his choosing.

UPDATE (Wednesday, July 17, 3 p.m. ET): Williams indeed will wear No. 12 for the Celtics this season, according to the latest update on his Instagram story.

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