BOSTON – Sunday marked the first official off day of the regular season for the Boston Celtics. While it was a day spent away from the court, it was certainly not a day spent away from each other.
Rather than unwind and relax in their own respective elements, the C’s chose to enjoy their R&R as a unit.
Marcus Smart took initiative by coordinating with a local AMC theater to give he and his teammates a preview showing of the new Terminator film. Nearly the entire squad showed up, along with some coaches and staff members, all of whom were greatly appreciative of the opportunity to bond outside of the lines and away from the spotlight.
“It’s nice to just be in a relaxed setting together like that,” Semi Ojeleye told Celtics.com following practice Tuesday afternoon. “Like it’s not for a game or anything that’s scheduled (basketball-wise) – it’s just everybody chillin’ and doing something normal.”
For a group of guys who live abnormal lifestyles, doing something normal and casual can feel like a breath of fresh air. It’s even more satisfying when they can experience that feeling as a group because it allows them to get to know each other outside of the work setting.
“You just get to see guys in habitats outside of where they’re comfortable,” said rookie forward Grant Williams. “Everyone here is comfortable in the gym, but not all people are super social. So to spend time with each other, that’s always the best part.”
One of the reasons why Smart wanted this group to spend a lot of time together is because of how last season shaped up. He said that one of the downfalls of the previous group was that it wasn’t always on the same page.
“Last year, for us, what was really big was the chemistry,” Smart reflected after Saturday night’s win in New York. “Some days we had it, some days we didn’t. So this year, I just wanted to make sure the chemistry was there, the bonds were there, and everybody was comfortable off the court with everybody. And I think the best way (to do that) is to be around each other as much as possible.”
Spending quality time around each other off the court can also enhance the product on the court. Such is the philosophy of new point guard Kemba Walker.
“I’ve always been a big believer that when you do things off the court and you really get along and like each other, it translates on the court,” Walker said Saturday night. “It makes you want to play for your brothers. So, as many things as we can do together, it’ll be beneficial for us.”
Ojeleye noted that it’s especially important for this team to spend quality time together because of the large number of new faces that it added during the offseason. Among those newcomers is a whole fleet of rookies, which Ojeleye and his fellow vets are trying to make feel at home as a part of their Celtics family.
“We’re just making them feel welcome,” Ojeleye said. “Just trying to include them in everything, invite them to everything. And for me, knowing that I was just there (as a rookie two years ago), I’m trying to help them through the little stuff, like, ‘Hey, don’t worry about that. It’s going to be a long season. Just keep your head up.' Those types of things. The faster they pick it up, the better we’ll be.”
Williams and his fellow rookies have taken notice of how the vets have welcomed them, and he said it has helped to expedite their transition from college to the pros.
“It’s incredible,” Williams said of the receptiveness of the veterans around him. “They always say, it depends on where you go in the league, and you never know who your vets will be. But they’ve been great to us.”
Williams, who is a self-professed Terminator fan, also expressed gratitude toward Smart for organizing the event, noting that “it’s no simple thing” to close down a theater for a private showing.
For Smart, though, organizing the outing was his pleasure. There was no other way he’d have rather utilized his day off than by spending it with his teammates. To him, there are no days off when it comes to building team chemistry.
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