“Why didn’t the skeleton go to the party?”
“He had no BODY to go with!”
Apparently, Derrick White has a love for “dad jokes.” Or, in his words, he likes “good dad jokes,” and made sure to share that one when asked for an example. (A huge thank you to John Karalis for bringing that tidbit of information to light.) While that brand of humor may not land with many Celtics fans, White’s play in his debut should.
The Boston Celtics traded for White at the trade deadline on Thursday and it didn’t take long for him to get a win under his belt in a C’s uniform. Boston took down the Denver Nuggets on Friday, 108-102, marking their seventh victory in a row and White chipped in with 15 points, six rebounds, and two assists.
When asked about his experiences since being dealt, White admitted that it was a bit chaotic. Less than 36 hours prior to Boston’s game vs. Denver, he was a member of the San Antonio Spurs. But in the end, he was just happy he helped the Celtics get a win.
“It’s been pretty crazy. Just finding out you’re getting traded and just trying to figure out what’s next. But since I’ve been out here, it’s been good. Just happy I was able to come out here and play tonight and help the team win.”
He shot 6-of-12 from the field and 3-of-7 from three-point range. The Colorado product even played the last 17 minutes of game time, helping Boston close things out.
The 27-year-old said that he didn’t know whether or not he’d be playing until an hour before the contest. However, his familiarity with the coaching staff and players made the transition easy.
“It helped a lot, I feel like I know people in the training staff and everywhere. It made the transition a lot easier and I felt pretty comfortable out there.”
Ime Udoka coached White in San Antonio throughout his first and second seasons in the league. Plus, he helped coach Team USA in 2019 in the FIBA World Cup which featured White, Marcus Smart, Jayson Tatum, and Jaylen Brown.
The latter two of that group received a special shoutout from White. When asked about what excites him about joining the Celtics, they were the first two reasons that came to mind.
“They got a great group. Obviously, JT, JB, a lot of special talent. I’ll just come in and help those guys, help the rest of the team. Do what I need to do to help them out. I’m excited for the rest of the season and moving onto the playoffs.”
With the win, Boston is now seven games above .500, putting them in a prime position to compete for playoff seeding. Plus, the newcomer received a warm welcome from TD Garden. While White mentioned that the ovation made him nervous, he was also very grateful for the love.
“It was crazy. I’m really appreciative of all the love that they showed me. Kind of had some goosebumps when I was checking in, and a little nerves. But I was extremely thankful for the ovation that I got.”
And if fans didn’t have enough to cheer about after White’s stellar first game in green, he has Boston ties, too. White revealed that his dad, who grew up in Boston, was a massive JoJo White fan, so it’s safe to say White is familiar with the history of the C’s,
White was also asked about his fit with this group. Brad Stevens talked about how White will accentuate the talents of Tatum and Brown on Friday morning. Based on White’s response, that seems to be true.
“Just try to make their lives easier. Space the floor. Create and make plays. Compete defensively. Obviously, lately, they’ve been pretty special on the defensive end so I just wanted to come in and not mess that up and try to help them out on that end as well. Just try to do a little bit of everything, play my game, and I think I’ll help the team.”
White’s first act as a Celtic was throwing a lob to Brown on the fast break. You really just can’t make that up. Talk about accentuating talent.
Welcome to Boston!! Derrick White gets the steal then throws the fast break oop to Jaylen Brown! pic.twitter.com/195MWC1vT1— Efrain Ramos (@BLKRZN) February 12, 2022
And Smart wasn’t left out of the mix, either. When asked about Smart and sharing the floor with him, White’s response was what every Celtics fan should want to hear.
“Over his whole career, he’s shown that he’s one of the top defensive players in the league. I’m excited to play alongside him and just see how he gets after it. It was cool, I mean, first play of the game he was diving on the floor and getting us a loose ball. Stuff like that that doesn’t really show up on the box score but impacts winning. I’m looking forward to it, and we’re going to have to get after it.”
Smart chimed in with his own thoughts on the matter when asked about how good the duo of he and White could be on the defensive end.
“We can be great. Me and him are two of the best defensive players in this league… Over the past couple of years, we’ve been picked on before because of our size. Not now.”
Defensively, Boston now owns the second-best defensive rating in the league (105.1). Not “in the last 30 days,” not “over the last 10 games,” but for the entire year. Their defense is legit, and White only makes it better.
With Smart’s intensity and White’s dad jokes, Boston has its fire and ice in the backcourt. But when everything’s clicking on the defensive end, expect it to just be fire.