Celtics Strengthening Brotherly Bond in Orlando

BOSTON – On Saturday afternoon, Enes Kanter and Marcus Smart ventured down to the gargantuan Lost City of Cibola pool at the NBA Campus in Orlando with competition on their minds. Not only did they hope to cool off from the sizzling Florida heat on their off day, but they also needed to settle an important matter: who was the faster swimmer of the two?

Smart, unsurprisingly, started talking trash before even dipping his toes into the water, claiming he was going to “kick Enes’ butt,” like he does “at anything we do.”

Kanter countered, “He’s too pretty. He doesn’t want to get his hair wet.”

Kanter then made his way down the steps into the pool and began warming up with some underwater pushups. Smart nonchalantly plopped down next to him and proclaimed, “Call me Brad Stevens: cool, calm and collected.”

Up on the concrete surface, Vincent Poirier had whipped out his cell phone so that he could record the race. On Poirier’s left was Tacko Fall, who counted down “3… 2… 1…” And they were off.

Kanter got a strong launch off the steps and took an early lead, but Smart made up the difference with his shorter, quicker strokes. As they neared the other end of the pool, both swimmers reached out for the wall, but it was Kanter who touched it first by the length of one of Smart’s braids.

“Yeah, baby, let’s Go!” Kanter exclaimed, rising up out of the water with one finger pointed toward the sky. “The great Turkish Shark, baby!”

The competition didn’t stop there, as the foursome of Fall, Kanter, Poirier and Smart also hit up the nearby beach volleyball court, where Fall’s 7-foot-5 frame came in handy as he towered above the net. They spent the afternoon laughing, shouting and trash-talking each other just like brothers.

Many of the Celtics’ players have taken part in family-like activities during their downtime in Orlando, whether they’re riding bikes together, playing ping-pong, shooting pool, playing video games, et cetera.

Kanter believes that building such strong bonds off the court should go a long way in enhancing their on-court product, especially considering how they will all be isolated together in this one location for a lengthy period of time.

“It’s important to keep building that team chemistry,” Kanter said following Sunday afternoon’s practice. “Everybody is away from their family, so this is our family now. For the next three months, these guys are my brothers, this is my family. So we’re just going to go out there and have fun, play hard, play smart, and push each other, but at the same time have fun every single day.”

Last week, Brad Stevens emphasized how important it is to try to have fun outside of basketball during their time in Orlando in order to keep team morale high.

“I just want us to have a joyful period,” the coach said Thursday evening. “I think that it’s not just about the games right now. It’s about that there are 21 other hours when you are in the hotel. So maybe you find a couple of hours to do the optional shooting. Maybe you have a dinner or a breakfast with a teammate, a coaching staff member, whatever the case may be. But you’re trying to make sure we all fill those hours appropriately and utilize this unique time together.”

Finding new ways to fill those hours shouldn’t be an issue for this competitive, brotherly group of Celtics, who continue to grow closer by the day.


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