New Celtics big man Tristan Thompson was amused to see one of his decade-old tweets resurface in the aftermath of him signing with Boston. A then-19-year-old Thompson took to social media in 2010 to note he was going to watch “my Celtics” during the Finals that year.
So how exactly did the Celtics become *the* team of Toronto-born Thompson?
"I was actually a [Kevin Garnett] fan. I’ve always been a KG fan growing up. So, KG in the Finals, I was definitely rooting for the Celtics,” said Thompson. “I love the Big Ticket, everything he brings to the table, and what he brought to the city of Boston. So it's crazy that that Tweet came back around. I forgot I even Tweeted that. Crazy like how everything has worked out, you know?”
Sitting inside the Auerbach Center this week, a towering mural of Garnett and Boston’s most recent Big Three beside him, Thompson was asked what it means to now finally be part of the Celtics organization.
“It means a lot. This is one of the most historic franchises in sports,” said Thompson. "So being able to put the green on, with the history and the amount of legends that played here. And what the city of Boston represents and how the Celtics embody that, each and every night. I think it works hand in hand with the type of player that I am. I think it’s a match made in heaven. It’s about time.”
The Celtics signed Thompson to a two-year, $19 million contract this offseason to bolster their center position. He admitted he’s heard whispers about Boston’s interest in recent seasons and said the “electric” atmosphere of TD Garden and the potential of Boston’s young core was big selling points in his decision to don green.
Thompson was part of two Cavaliers teams that denied Boston a chance to reach the NBA Finals but now he’s here to get the Celtics over that hump and onto the championship stage. It’s been 11 years since that Tweet about “my Celtics" and Thompson is now a grizzled veteran with nearly a decade of NBA experience. And he’s eager to lead.
“I think it just starts with an every-day mentality. Every day you have to punch the clock,” said Thompson. “No shortcuts. I think, for myself, Kemba [Walker], Jayson [Tatum], Jaylen [Brown], and [Marcus] Smart — we gotta hold each other to a different standard. You gotta hold each other accountable, each and every day. Whether it’s at practice or in a game. We are the ones that have to push each other and challenge each other. Because we’re going to go as far as we push each other."
Tatum was among those on the Celtics’ roster that repeatedly reached out in hopes that Thompson would consider joining Boston.
"He’s been in the league a long time and he’s been to the Finals. He knows what it takes and I felt like he was a guy who could come in, especially on the defensive end — something that we kind of needed,” said Tatum. “Rebounding, and his maturity of knowing what it takes to get there.”
Echoed Marcus Smart: "Tristan’s been on a championship team and on a team with one of the greatest to ever play. He knows what it takes and the hard work he puts in. It’s definitely something we were missing. Nothing against our big guys, but it’s the experience he has."
Thompson is likewise excited to be playing alongside Boston’s core, especially Tatum and Brown.
“It was a huge factor, in terms of me wanting to be a part of this,” said Thompson. “Two guys that, whenever we see each other, they’ve always said, ‘We need you over here, bro. We could really do something special if you’re with us.’ …
"They’re stars themselves. Jayson’s an All-Star and Jaylen, in my opinion, should’ve been an All-Star last year. That’s why Kemba came last year — because he saw what they were doing. Me and Kemba both noticed that and these kids are only getting better. Their development each and every year, even with Marcus Smart, how much he’s grown in his career. With those three guys growing … for Kemba wanting to get to the promised land, for me getting back to the promised land, it’s a great opportunity.”
Thompson played some of his high school ball in Newark, New Jersey and was familiar with Walker, a Bronx native. Walker is excited their paths are crossing again.
"I know the energy he brings,” said Walker. "I’ve known Tristan since high school. We had our first draft workout together. I know what he brings to this game and, most importantly, I knew what he’d bring to our team. Off the court things. He’s got a big personality and knows the game so well. He’s going to be great for this team.”
Yes, a decade after tweeting about “my Celtics,” Thompson is here to help them get the 18th banner that eluded them at that point.