Celtics Look to Boost Chemistry While in Europe

The Boston Celtics roster has experienced a great deal of turnover during the last couple of seasons, and its members have had minimal opportunities to bond off the court and enhance their chemistry.

That’s about to change.

The 2015 offseason will soon be wrapping up and the Celtics will be packing up for a weeklong preseason trip to Europe to participate in their fourth NBA Global Games experience.

The C’s are set to take off for Milan on Oct. 2, then to Madrid a few days later, all before returning to Boston on Oct. 9 to finish up the preseason.

This will mark the organization’s third time participating in the Global Games in the last decade, having taken trips to Rome and London in 2007, followed by stops in Istanbul and Milan in 2012.

While in Milan this time around, the team will scrimmage three-time Euroleague and 26-time Italian League Champion Olimpia Milano on Oct. 6 at the Mediolanum Forum. Two days later, the Celtics will face off against nine-time Euroleague and 32-time Spanish League Champion Real Madrid at Barclaycard Center. Outside the arena walls, team president Rich Gotham says the team will have opportunities to explore the foreign cultures and do some work in the community, all while getting to know each other and building up their chemistry.

“[The players] are eating all their meals together, they’re taking all their bus rides together, they’re back and forth from the practice facility, they’re staying in the same hotel,” said Gotham, who recently sat down with Celtics.com to discus the trip. “It’s a way for these guys to really come together early in the season and build those bonds.”

During the fall of 2007, Gotham witnessed first-hand how an intimate trip like this can impact a team’s chemistry. Prior to the 2007-08 season, a new-look Celtics team journeyed to Europe. When they returned, they won 66 regular season games and took home the NBA title.

“You knew you had something special even [during the trip],” Gotham recollected. “Then when you saw them take the court together for the first time, it wasn’t like they were strangers that had never played together before. They hit the court as a well-oiled machine, and I think that trip really brought them together in a way that would not have been possible by just running a training camp here in Waltham.”

Though it will be a different setting than that of the Celtics’ traditional training camp, Gotham believes they will feel right at home due to the team’s worldwide fan base.

“Everywhere we go we get this amazing reception and all these arenas are filled with people in green,” said Gotham. “It’s a good opportunity for us to get out there, get our brand out there and get some exposure with this big fan base that you otherwise never really knew you had.”

The plethora of international fans, Gotham says, “is due to the 17 banners. The history really matters. We are truly one of sports’ great global brands, and when you go to Europe, when you travel with this team, that really hits home. You can really see it.”

The citizens of Milan displayed appreciation both in and outside the arena doors the last time the C’s were there. Some of the team members put on an NBA Cares clinic in the streets in 2012, which attracted more than 3,000 participants and spectators. The next day, they beat Emporio Armani 105-75 while a sea of green filled the seats and cheered them on.

Celtics guard Avery Bradley, who took part in that trip three years ago, said he knows “there are passionate fans in Italy and we look forward to an electric atmosphere on game night.”

They should be embraced in a similar atmosphere when they head to Madrid, the site of the organization’s first Global Games experience, which took place in 1988.

President of basketball operations Danny Ainge played on that Celtics team, and said in a recent press release that he has “particularly fond memories of playing in Madrid back in [1988], and I am sure our current players will relish this unique opportunity.”

While the previous three Global Games trips have given the team an opportunity to gel before the season, Gotham says that the international voyages are also important to the organization and the league from a business perspective.

“A lot of NBA merchandise is sold in those countries, NBA games are broadcasted in those countries,” said Gotham. “So while there might not be an NBA league or affiliated team in those countries, there’s a huge NBA following and television audience over there. And so for the teams to go there and rub elbows and perform in person, that’s important to keep that flame burning.”

Global trips can also be beneficial for the organization in that it provides an opportunity to connect and have a presence in international markets.

“For most of these trips that we’ve taken we have partners, like adidas, who have presence in those cities, so we’re able to do events with our partners and that helps them reach their consumers in their cities,” said Gotham.

He noted that the primary goal of the trip is to “engage and spread basketball and get the Celtics brand out there in Europe.”

And of course, all that time spent together will give the C’s a prime opportunity to boost their team chemistry and get everyone on the same page before the regular season tips off in late October.

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