Two of the Boston Celtics big men took turns at the podium today, as Daniel Theis and Enes Kanter took questions from the media over Zoom. Both expressed optimism with the season restarting and are excited for the Celtics to get back at it.
Daniel Theis said he had no hesitation about playing in the restart, but that he’ll miss his family while gone: “Especially my daughter, who is 4 now. But we have Facetime and all that. She’s helping me pack. She’s making sure I have snacks and giving me her stuffed animals. It’s going to hard for such a long period, but I never thought about not playing. We’ll do Facetime a lot and she’s going to be able to watch me on TV.”
As far as his confidence in the campus staying safe at Walt Disney World, Theis has little concern: “It sounds like a great setup. No one can expect it’s going to be perfect down there. The German BBL worked out great. I have confidence the system is going to be good for everybody.”
Part of what is giving Theis that confidence is how well the German BBL was able to finish out their season. Theis referenced speaking with his best friend, former Los Angeles Laker and Gonzaga Bulldog Elias Harris. Harris told Theis he was concerned at first, but once he got to “the bubble” he was very positive about the experience. Harris said that he felt safe and that they made it so the players could just focus on basketball.
Focusing on basketball was a theme of Theis’ time at the podium. He said the Celtics are in a good place because of their continuity restarting versus coming in off the offseason: “It’s much easier. We have to adapt in some of our systems. If you come back from the summer with a whole new team, you have to start over. Now, we can just go right into it. We don’t have to explain what we want to do. For us, it’s about getting in game shape to get ready for basketball.”
Theis said part of what makes him feel good about the Celtics chances of winning is that his teammates look great. He said he believes that every player has been a regular at the facility since it reopened and that he’s spoken with everyone. He said he’s seen Jayson Tatum, Kemba Walker and Enes Kanter the most, because his practice time is close to theirs. On Tatum, Theis said: “He looks great. He came in and couldn’t miss a shot.”
As far as his own physical shape, Theis said the break was good for him to be able to give his knees a rest. He also said it was a good chance to work on his strength and conditioning. Theis said that he and his family stayed in the Boston-area for the entirety of the quarantine period. His mother-in-law was with his family and she was unable to find flights back to Germany. That gave the Theis family some extra help with their kids to have her with them.
Enes Kanter is clearly happy to be back in Boston’s facility and working towards a restart. He did his availability at the podium shirtless, with a towel draped over his shoulders. But for the duration of his time at the microphone, he wore a broad smile upon his face.
Since he’s joined the NBA, Kanter has been involved in social causes, both in the United States and his home country of Turkey. He said if players are given the opportunity to put a message on their jerseys, he has his picked out: “People know what I stand for. I stand for freedom. If I get a chance, I’m going to put “Freedom” on the back of my jersey. Not just because of the issues in Turkey or America, but all over the world. That would represent people fighting for freedom around the world.
Kanter talked about teammate Jaylen Brown showing leadership by being involved in protests in his home city of Atlanta: “What he did was pure leadership. I’ve learned a lot from him. When he’s done with his career, he’s not going to be known as just a basketball player. Before he’s a good basketball player, he’s a good leader and a good person. We’re lucky to have him in our society.”
The Celtics center also hopes that the season’s restart gives players a platform to speak on social issues: “Over the last month, what we experienced is way bigger than everything in basketball. In Orlando, the whole world will be watching. We can use that platform to talk about justice and freedom and democracy. We can make a huge difference. What the NBA is doing about all the social justice issues is amazing. We have so many great leaders stepping up and doing what they have to do to bring light to the issues. In Orlando, we can talk about what’s really important. I hope we can inspire the next generation.”
On basketball topics, Kanter expressed excitement to get started again and seeing his teammates. He said the Celtics did an amazing job with keeping the team connected throughout the quarantine period. The team hosted a virtual team chapel every Tuesday and every Wednesday brought in motivational speakers. Kanter said that really helped the team build chemistry.
When asked about young big man Robert Williams, Kanter beamed “He looks amazing. He looks like he hasn’t lost anything. He’s come into the gym and he’s dunking everything! I need him to give me the secret! I’m very excited about him.”
As for his own role coming off the bench, Kanter said he’s willing to do whatever it takes to win. He referenced that for most of his career, his teams have made the playoffs and for most of those years, he came off the bench. Kanter said the playoffs are about winning, and he emphasized the team mentality you have to have: “The most important part for us is staying together. We are so lucky to have Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum, Gordon Hayward and Jaylen Brown on our side, who are experienced players. They’ll keep us together during the tough times. When you win, you win as a team. If you get a ring, you get it together. It doesn’t matter how many minutes you play or who starts. It’s about winning.”
There will be more media availability throughout the coming days, as the Celtics ramp up for the season restarting at Walt Disney World. Stay tuned to CelticsBlog for all the latest news and notes!