MLK Day Holds Special Meaning to C's, NBA

WALTHAM, Mass. – Today, for just the third time in 10 years, the Celtics were not a part of the NBA’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day festivities. Still, the Celtics remembered what this day is all about.

Boston used Monday afternoon to return to the practice court just before the NBA’s slate of 11 games tipped off at 12:30 p.m. The Celtics fielded questions about Tuesday’s opponent, the Pelicans, but they also took time to comment on how important this day is to them and the rest of their NBA family.

Brad Stevens broached the subject first by opening up with the strongest line of the day, saying of Martin Luther King Jr., “He’s one of the most admired leaders in the history of the world.”

Stevens continued on to reveal how significant this day is to him and his family.

“Every year at this time, the thing that I always do is review and re-look at all of my favorite quotes and speeches of his,” said Stevens. “His impact on the country was as great as anybody’s and continues to be as great as anybody’s.

“It’s always fun to take a step back and celebrate that today, not only as a coach, but also as a parent of an eight- and 12-year-old, too, to get a chance to talk about things that are a little more important than the things we’re doing for a living.”

Stevens echoed those same sentiments a year ago on this holiday, before the Celtics beat the Hornets 108-98 at TD Garden.

Al Horford, who was raised in and is now raising his own minority family, also spoke about the importance of this day and how it relates to the social issues that the US is currently facing.

“I think regardless of the issues, there’s a time that you always reflect on it,” he said. “I always reflect on it, personally, how much we’ve come along as society, and just proud to be living here in the US and seeing the impact and the opportunities that minorities and a lot of us can get because of him. And in the world, too; I think that people are aware of it, and it is a great day to reflect on it and celebrate his life.”

It is no coincidence that the NBA showcases a full slate of games on this day each year. The league does so for the exact reason Horford outlined above.

Today is a day to reflect on and to celebrate not only the life of Martin Luther King Jr., but also the conversation he inspired during his march toward social justice and civil rights. The NBA is proud to be a part of that celebration each year, while helping to create as much positive momentum behind these challenging subjects as is possible. The Celtics are, too, regardless of whether or not they’re involved in the NBA’s game festivities.

MLK Day is a day for celebration and reflection, but most of all, it’s about creating positive momentum toward the future of our country and the world, just as this admired leader did 50 years ago.