Romeo Langford

Inside Allison Feaster's pioneering role with the Celtics

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NBC Sports Boston

Inside Allison Feaster's pioneering role with the Celtics

HOUSTON -- Harvard graduate. Decorated college basketball player. A first-round draft pick. 

There’s a lot to love about the resume of Allison Feaster, director of player development and personal growth for the Boston Celtics. 

As impressive as her accomplishments to date may be, Feaster will be the first to tell you that she’s not done. 

Not. Even. Close. 

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And it is that perpetual drive to succeed that has fueled her success that these days that finds her blazing a trail which has led to her being the first Black woman to hold a position within the Celtics’ front office. 

“Not to sound like it’s a fairy tale, but it has been everything I could have hoped for,” Feaster told NBC Sports Boston. “It has exceeded my expectations; working alongside a group of men and women, to try and get this team to the next level.”

Playing a vital role in a team’s ascension has been part of the Feaster profile dating back to when she was a star in South Carolina on the high school basketball team…in the seventh grade. 

She would finish her prep career in South Carolina as a state champion along with being the state’s all-time leading scorer.

And once at Harvard, Feaster would string together four years of dominance as a player (she was named Ivy League Freshman of the Year and later Player of the Year three times), which included the first-ever NCAA Tournament upset by a then-No. 16 seed Harvard team against No. 1 seed Stanford. 

Her focus throughout a basketball journey that has taken her all over the world was to steadily gain skills, improve her overall craft and consistently be the best version of herself, which she readily admits is a lot easier said than done. 

But those experiences, coupled with her post-playing career in the NBA’s league office, helped prepare her for being ready to handle a random, out-of-the-blue phone call last year from a Boston area code. 

Having lots of friends from her college days still in the area, she thought it might have been one of them. 

It was Danny Ainge, the Celtics president of basketball operations.  He was calling to gauge her interest in the job that Feaster would eventually agree to accept. 

“Sometimes when those random calls come out of the blue you just have to take them,” Feaster said. “I was actually interviewing with another team and Danny called me.”

In addition to having played at Harvard, Feaster was familiar with the Celtics front office through a program for former NBA and WNBA players. 

“There was a program created for former players to help transition off the court, explore the league office operations as well as team operations of the business of basketball,” Feaster said. “I had the fortune, the great fortune to trade with one of my colleagues. I had Atlanta and she had Boston. Because of my ties in the Boston community, I asked her to switch me. She did and I met Danny, Mike [Zarren] Brad [Stevens], Rich Gotham through that program.”

That familiarity made the decision to accept the Celtics’ job offer a no-brainer for Feaster. 

“It would have been an amazing opportunity to join an organization as storied as the Celtics; and not just because of the rich history but because of the people,” Feaster said. “But leadership in Danny, Mike, Brad, Rich. I was just really impressed. They were very helpful in my early journey.”

A journey that continues on, and one that has allowed her to make an indelible impression with the current players, from All-Stars to pro basketball newbies. 

“We all have so much respect for Allison,” Kemba Walker told NBC Sports Boston. She just genuinely cares about us. Basketball season can be really difficult for some people, some of the young players trying to adjust. She’s there for us; whatever we need, ask for, she tries her best to get it done for us. We definitely appreciate her and love having her around.”

Listen to Feaster on The Michael Holley Podcast: 

Celtics rookie Romeo Langford, the youngest member of the team at 20, admits he talks with Feaster often about an array of issues that as a rookie, are totally foreign to him.

She can connect with them on basketball-related matters having played professionally for more than a decade. 

But she also can assist in helping them some semblance of balance off the court as well, suggesting classes they can take or other activities that they can involve themselves with in the community. 

“Having her around is really important; it helps the transition,” Langford told NBC Sports Boston. “How to handle difficult situations. We [rookies] don’t know too much. Coming into the league, what to expect or what to do or where to turn. She’s that person who is there, for that, to make the transition a lot smoother.”

Walker added, "It means a lot. To have an African-American female in that position, that's a big time. It gives young, Black girls hope in this business, in this league, period. It’s hard to get that position. But she’s super-intelligent, she played, went to Harvard, has so many connections... She carries herself super-well. It’s a blessing to have her around.”

While Feaster is well aware of the ground-breaking nature of her being with the Celtics, it hasn’t been an issue that she has spent a lot of time thinking about. 

“It’s something I don’t focus on,” she said. “The beauty of this position and this organization and the way that Kara [Lawson, Celtics assistant coach] and I have been welcomed, it’s been just like any other employee I imagine. I don’t feel like ‘the other’ as I felt abroad as the only American or the only English speaker. I don’t feel like ‘the other’ as maybe I felt as being the only African-American on my Harvard team.”

While Feaster doesn't put much thought into the pioneering dynamic of her position, she does take her position as a role model very seriously. 

“That to me, as a professional athlete, that’s always been the beauty of the unique platform we have.” Feaster said. “I'm here to lend a hand, help young people aspire to be where we are. It’s an honor to represent them in this space.” 

Celtics lovin' the lift they are getting from rookie Romeo Langford

Celtics lovin' the lift they are getting from rookie Romeo Langford

BOSTON -- Romeo Langford was playing major minutes for the second straight game. And for large chunks of Friday’s game against Atlanta, the 20-year-old Langford was matched up against Vince Carter who has been in the NBA (22 years) longer than Langford has been alive. 

It has indeed been a whirlwind of a week for Romeo Langford.

But Langford became the latest standout member of the Celtics’ next-man-up club, having a career night in helping Boston edge past Atlanta 112-107. 

Langford finished with a career-high 16 against the Hawks (he came in averaging less than three points per game) along with playing solid defense against a multitude of Atlanta players including Carter. 

“It took me a little bit (of time) to get the rhythm of the game,” Langford said. “But once I got running up and down the court a little bit, I felt like I belonged out there.” 

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Which is saying a lot when you consider not just his lack of experience in the NBA, but the lack of playing time he has garnered this season. 

Langford came into tonight’s game having played in 15 games while averaging 2.5 points per game. 

To sum up Langford’s lack of playing time, it has primarily been due to injuries, illnesses and a bevy of wings ahead of him on the depth chart. 

“Listen, we have a lot of guys on that bench that can actually go and play and really make contributions,” said Boston’s Marcus Smart. “It’s just tough for them now because we got so many guys that have been here, more experienced and are already established.”

We certainly saw that from Langford who in addition to scoring, also had five rebounds and a career-high three blocked shots in addition to guarding Carter who had 10 points to bring his career total to 26,674 points which ranks 19th on the NBA’s all-time scorer’s list. 

“It’s surreal; I’m 20 and I would never have thought I would be playing against Vince Carter,” Langford said. “Play with him on (PlayStation) 2K and against him, and now I got to guard him; it’s a blessing.”

Enes Kanter had a strong game with 16 points and 15 rebounds for his eighth double-double of the season. 

But after the win, Kanter was more into praising the play of Langford. 

“I want to give a huge shout-out to Romeo,” Kanter said. “Both ends of the floor, offensively, defensively, he’s playing hard. He’s having fun, he’s learning, so I’m really proud of him. It’s nice to see him grow into that.”

And a big part of that growth is recognizing opportunity and seizing it once it manifests itself. 

“All these rookies, we tell them, there are going to be times when guys are hurt,” Smart said. “That’s your time to accept the challenge and take advantage of your opportunity; they all have. Rome, he just keeps … he didn’t start off getting as much playing time as the other rookies. But his time has come … he gave us what we need.”

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Thunder, which begins Sunday at 2:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 3:30 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

Hawks-Celtics Takeaways: Undermanned C's keep on finding ways to win

Hawks-Celtics Takeaways: Undermanned C's keep on finding ways to win

BOSTON -- It was a sight we had never seen before: Tremont Waters, Brad Wanamaker, Romeo Langford, Semi Ojeleye and Vincent Poirier on the floor against Atlanta … in the first quarter!

Injuries have left the Celtics little choice but to take a look at all sorts of lineups this season. 

And this group, much like most of the tinkering done by Celtics head coach Brad Stevens, had the kind of success that factored into Boston continuing on its winning ways with a 112-107 victory over the Hawks.

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Boston (36-15) has now won six in a row, doing so once again with an undermanned roster with Gordon Hayward (foot), Daniel Theis (ankle) both out. 

Despite the Hawks being without All-Star Trae Young (right ankle contusion), Atlanta gave the Celtics all they could handle courtesy of the 1-2 punch of John Collins and Kevin Huerter who had 30 and 25 points, respectively. 

JAYSON TATUM

Kemba Walker was back on the floor, but this was yet another game in which Jayson Tatum was Boston’s best player. 

He continues to play at an All-Star level at both ends of the floor, mixing in an array of drives to the basket, jumpers and post-ups. 

The improvement in Tatum’s overall game is undeniable. Having Walker back in the mix, it’s good to see it still on display when he’s playing with a fellow All-Star like Kemba. 

Tatum led all scorers with 32 points, tallying 30 or more points in back-to-back games for the first time in his NBA career. Tatum also had six assists and four rebounds.

ROMEO LANGFORD

The more we see him play, the clearer it becomes he’s more than capable of helping the Celtics when he gets an opportunity to play. 

And he’s doing the little things at both ends of the floor. 

During one third-quarter sequence, he contested a shot at the rim and soon sprinted back towards offense where he was greeted with a pass in transition that led to a pair of free throws. 

By no means is he ready to be a full-time starter, but it’s reassuring for the Celtics to know that he can deliver when called upon as he finished with a career-high 16 points and five rebounds which included a clutch 3-pointer in the fourth that pushed Boston’s lead to 104-96 with less than three minutes to play. 

ENES KANTER

Starting, coming off the bench. It doesn’t seem to have much of an effect on Enes Kanter’s impact on the floor. He would finish with 16 points and 15 rebounds for his eighth double-double this season, but first as a starter this season. 

The Celtics punished the Hawks inside with several players contributing, but there was no bigger mismatch than whoever the Hawks had guarding Kanter.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Thunder, which begins Sunday at 2:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 3:30 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.