Brandon Bass Still Bleeds Green
BOSTON – There’s no doubt that the spotlight will be shining on Kobe Bryant tonight when he makes his final appearance at TD Garden.
But there’s one other Laker who deserves some recognition as well.
While Bryant receives his farewell, Brandon Bass will be welcomed back to the Garden for the first time since his departure from the Celtics organization over the summer.
The 6-foot-8 forward spent his last four seasons with the C’s. Like many players who have come through this organization, he grew attached, making his exit a difficult one.
“[Leaving Boston] was challenging a little bit because I didn’t think I’d ever leave,” Bass said at L.A.’s shootaround this morning at TD Garden.
When Bass first came to Boston in 2011, the city felt foreign to him. Considering his upbringing, that was no surprise. He was born in Baton Rouge, La., went to Louisiana State University, and was fittingly drafted by the New Orleans Hornets in 2005.
He spent his first six seasons, in New Orleans/Oklahoma City, Dallas and Orlando. Simply put, there was a whole lotta South in this man when he first arrived in New England, though it did not take him long to adjust.
“I remember getting off the plane for the first time being in Boston; it just felt like I didn’t know how I would adjust to the city of Boston because it looked so different from what I was used to,” recalled Bass.
“Then when I first got to the gym, [Rajon] Rondo threw me a ball and I just kind of felt at home, right then and there.”
Once that bond was formed with the organization and the city, it became unbreakable. Boston and the Celtics became his lifestyle, which was why it was so difficult for him to pack his bags and leave this city in July.
“I get used to certain things and doing certain things a certain way and I get attached a little bit,” said Bass. “I really can’t put my finger on what exactly I miss [about Boston]… it’s a little bit of everything.”
His former teammates miss him too. At the C’s practice yesterday, Evan Turner expressed fondness toward Bass’ work ethic and said he was “sad” when he learned he would not be returning to the Celtics this season.
“He played really hard, he never complained… he was just a great role model,” said Turner, who played with Bass for one full season. “Whatever happened the day before, he always made sure he came to work, and he was just a great guy to have on the team and a real professional.”
Bass was a much-needed veteran presence as the Celtics transitioned from the Big 3 era to the rebuild under Brad Stevens. He was a quiet, lead-by-example type of guy, who proved to be incredibly durable through the NBA grind – he did not miss a single game during his final three seasons in green.
“I just think just my presence, being around, the way I go about things, the way I kind of gave myself up for the team in different ways, my work ethic, how I carry myself, things of that nature,” said the 11-year veteran.
The way Bass carried himself while with the C’s was unique, especially when it came to his dedication to bettering himself as a basketball player. For example, as soon as the Celtics’ plane landed in an opposing team’s city, he would head to the hotel and immediately hit the gym.
That work ethic earned Bass praise from the Celtics’ fan base. Perhaps his largest fan was his coach, Brad Stevens, who has found himself tuning into a lot of Lakers games this season.
“I try to watch them more when they’re on just because I really like Brandon,” Stevens said yesterday. “I thought he really worked hard and he helped get this thing going in the right direction just by his work ethic, by the way he took care of his body, the example he set for his young teammates, and I’m really thankful that he was here with us.”
Upon hearing of Stevens’ remarks, Bass flashed his pearly whites and beamed with an appreciative response.
“It’s good for you to hear some things like that for you to continue to build on in your career and your life, and kind of that extra motivation to keep going and keep inspiring others,” he said.
Bass was an inspiring presence with the C’s and that is no different now that he’s with the rival Lakers. The city of L.A. may be the polar opposite of Boston in many respects, but he is in a similar situation being with a rebuilding team.
The Lakers are 5-27 at this point, and Bass is playing a limited role. He is averaging 5.6 points and 4.0 rebounds per game during just 16.0 minutes of play. Those numbers are way down from his four-season average of 10.6 PPG, 5.5 RPG and 27.3 minutes per game with the Celtics.
His veteran presence, however, is certainly a necessary one as he tries to guide the young Lakers through their rebuild. Just like he helped Boston through their reconstruction over the last two seasons.
Though, being his usual, humble self, Bass refused to take much credit regarding his role with the C’s turnaround.
“The Celtics helped me, man,” he said. “I mean I can’t say that I have done so much for the Celtics; the Celtics have done so much for me, and I’m grateful for the city of Boston, the fans [and] the organization.”
Whether he admits it or not, Bass did help this organization. Immensely. Which is why Celtics Nation owes him a shower of appreciation when he gets off the opposing bench tonight.