Bradley Grateful in Return to ‘Second Home’

BOSTON – Touching down at Logan Airport and bussing to the Ritz-Carlton in downtown Boston this weekend was an entirely new experience for Avery Bradley. For the first time, the Detroit Pistons guard felt like a visitor to the city that he had called home for more than a quarter of his life.

However, Bradley didn’t feel like an outsider for long. Fond memories of his experiences in Boston began rushing back as he caught up with some old friends at a local restaurant, making him feel right at home again.

“I ended up knowing everybody that walked into the restaurant,” Bradley said after Pistons shootaround Monday morning. “It just showed how long I was here, and that this definitely is my second home.”

Monday night will be the first time that Bradley suits up against the Celtics since the organization traded him to Detroit this summer. He may be a member of a new team, but he knows where his roots are; he has nothing but love for the team that raised him over the last seven years.

“I learned so much from this city,” said Bradley. “I learned so much from our guys around the organization. Those guys got to see me grow up from a 19-year-old to a 26-year-old. I was able to learn a lot from everybody on the court and off the court.”

During his seven seasons in Boston, Bradley averaged 12.3 points and 3.1 rebounds per game, all while developing into one of the most feared two-way players in the league. Above all, he was a great leader for the Celtics, as he helped guide the team through its rebuilding process over the last few years.

Now, the Pistons are reaping the benefits of Bradley’s presence, as they’re off to the second-best start in the East with a 12-6 record.

“He’s been amazing,” said backcourt mate Reggie Jackson. “He’s been the ultimate professional. Each and every day he comes to work, he leaves it all on the floor, and he has a never-say-die attitude. He’s really competitive. He always believes he’s going to win, and I think that’s a great addition that we’ve added to the team, as someone who’s going to fight until all zeros hit the clock.”

Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy says that Bradley is the type of player that he’d like to have “10 or 12 of.” That may just happen soon enough, because the coach notices that Bradley’s tenacity has had an infectious effect on his teammates.

“He approaches the game the right way every day, and I think the more of those guys you have, I do think it’s contagious,” said Van Gundy. “I do think it’s rubbed off on our guys. Guys are still going to be who they are in their basic personality, but I think incrementally everybody steps it up a notch when they see a guy like that.”

Bradley will try to maintain that same, level-headed approach tonight when he returns to TD Garden to face his former team for the first time. As expected, he is quietly playing it off as if it’s just another game.

“It’s nice to be back in front of the fans and being in Boston, but I don’t get too excited or anything,” said Bradley. “Every game is the same. I’m going to go out there and play as hard as I can and give it my all. That’s my focus.”

With that being said, Bradley is grateful to get the opportunity to play in front of Celtics Nation again, regardless of the team he’s representing.

“My time here, I really appreciated it,” he said. “I feel like every step in your life is to help you get to the person you’re supposed to be, or, in this case the basketball player I want to be. So I just look at all those experiences that I had, and I’m thankful for them.”

After all, Boston was the city that raised Bradley. And it will forever be his second home.