BOSTON – Most members of the current Celtics core know what it’s like to have the entire city of Boston on their backs for a deep postseason run, but they have yet to experience the euphoria of actually bringing a banner to the city. Sunday night, they got an idea of what that feeling could be like by watching the Red Sox capture a World Series crown for Boston.
The C’s already had banner aspirations heading into this season, but by witnessing the excitement surrounding the championship run of their cross-town neighbors, their motivation to hop aboard Boston’s title train grew even stronger.
“It was great,” Celtics center Aron Baynes said of the Red Sox’ postseason run. “They set the standard of what’s expected here in Boston and what we’re trying to accomplish.”
The C’s have been using the Red Sox as an example throughout the first month of the NBA season. Coach Brad Stevens has repeatedly lauded the unselfishness and camaraderie of the Sox, and he is attempting to instill a similar type of attitude within his own team.
“It’s super inspiring,” Stevens said of the Red Sox’ accomplishments. “And the way that it happened – I’ve talked multiple times about how team-oriented they were, and we pointed to Brock Holt’s example in the New York (American League Division) Series. But then you look at Jackie Bradley Jr., who’s the [American League Championship Series] MVP, and he doesn’t play until the last half-inning last night. You look at Mookie Betts, who struggled all the way through, and yet was clearly an unbelievable leader with his smile and the way that people got great motivation from his presence. You just go down the line with all those guys, the pitchers, too. It was incredible.”
Stevens also drew inspiration from first-year manager Alex Cora, with whom he has developed a solid relationship. The pair met on the first day of Red Sox Spring Training in February, and right off the bat, Stevens sensed that Cora’s positive aura would make a great impact on his surroundings.
“I was lucky enough to be at their first meeting of the season, and you could tell he had a special way about him,” Stevens said of his coaching peer. “Again, it takes a lot for everybody to sacrifice and do a little bit more for the team, and that environment is something special.”
Having a championship-caliber environment can have a contagious effect, not just on the team, but on an entire region. That will be in full effect later this week, when the citizens of New England flood the streets for a title celebration.
The current group of Celtics have yet to experience the jubilation that comes with a Boston Duck Boat Parade, but this week, they will get a taste of that as well.
“It’s a great thing for the city and a great thing for the players to be able to go out here and enjoy it the next couple of days,” said Baynes. “It’s going to be fun for the city, and hopefully we (the Celtics) can continue to build off of that excitement.”
There’s never been such an exciting time to be a Boston sports fan as there is now. The city has earned 11 championships across four major sports over the last 18 years, and all four of its teams are currently peaking.
The Celtics, at the moment, are in the midst of the longest banner drought of those four teams, having gone 10 years without a title. But they are motivated now, more than ever, to prove their worth once again to the City of Champions.
“They call it Title Town for a reason,” said C’s wing Gordon Hayward. “So now we have to do our job.”