One recurring theme I'm noticing about the Celtics current roster is the emphasis on high character guys.
The team already featured the well liked Avery Bradley as the longest tenured player in Boston. Jae Crowder has an infectious energy that has won fans and teammates over. Isaiah Thomas has one of those megawatt smiles and Napoleon complex attitudes that mixes for a lot of fun on the court. Jonas Jerebko quietly goes about his business and does everything the coaching staff asks of him. Right on down the list there are a lot of guys you want on your side.
Danny Ainge added two high character guys to that group this summer. David Lee had one of the highest salaries on the Warriors last season but he impressed everyone with his team-first attitude despite being relegated to bench duty on an eventual Championship squad. He was even ready and able to step in and help when his team needed some minutes in the NBA Finals. Lee is impressed with the quality of people the C's are adding.
"They are building with character guys, guys who fit into a system that they want to run. I think that’s the way to do it now. I think the days of having a bunch of jerks on the same team and thinking you are going to win a championship (are over)."
To that end, Amir Johnson comes with a glowing resume from Toronto as a favorite of coaches, teammates, and fans alike. He's certainly confident about how he'll be received in Boston.
"I definitely know the fans will love me," Johnson said. "I'm a team player, I'm a hustler . . . I play hard every game. So I know the fans will definitely love me. I know they're great fans. I know back in the Detroit days, I've seen how rowdy they can get. So I know Boston loves their team for sure."
Talent tends to win the NBA, but not at the expense of chemistry and team-first focus. The 2008 team never would have won if the 3 stars hadn't taken efforts to refine their games for the better of the team as a whole.
This team may not have any stars as of yet, but they're working on building a culture to either develop those stars in-house or give a future acquisition a great environment to land in. Guys around the league are already talking about Brad Stevens as a draw. The team finished out last year on a great roll that was spurred on by energy, enthusiasm, and a we-not-me attitude. If they continue to foster that spirit, this group will be easy to root for.