BRIGHTON, MA — At Boston Celtics Media Day on Monday, Brad Stevens revealed that he’s always wanted Jrue Holiday.
“I’ve tried to get Jrue Holiday on the Celtics since I’ve been the coach,” Stevens said. “I know I would go into Danny [Ainge]’s office every year and be like, ‘Hey, can we get Jrue Holiday somehow?’”
He stated that Holiday was one of the guys he never thought he’d “have the chance to trade for.” But that’s exactly what he did.
And now, it’s clear the admiration was a two-way street.
“A few days ago, before I got traded, it was just kind of like, ‘Where am I gonna land?’” Holiday said at his introductory press conference on Wednesday. “I had hopes of being here, and sometimes you don’t wanna get your hopes up just because, I mean, you can get your heart broken that way. But once I ended up getting traded here, that’s what I was committed to.”
Holiday was traded by the Milwaukee Bucks to the Portland Trail Blazers in the Damian Lillard deal, paving the way for Boston to strike. Portland is entering a rebuild and looked to flip Holiday as soon as they got him.
The trade wasn’t cheap. The Celtics shipped out Robert Williams, Malcolm Brogdon, and two first-round picks for the All-Star guard, but Stevens got his guy. And in turn, Holiday landed in a place where he can continue to compete for championships.
“I think Portland blessed me,” Holiday said. “[They] did a great job. Joe Cronin did a great job of communicating with me on what I wanted and how to proceed. [They] did a great job of putting me in a place [where] I get a chance to possibly win another [championship], which is super important to me. But working with them was very easy, very seamless, and made all this possible.”
The 33-year-old veteran won a championship in his first season with the Bucks in 2021 and has been there ever since. He landed there by way of a trade with the New Orleans Pelicans at the end of 2020.
While there, Holiday not only helped Milwaukee win their first championship in 50 years, but he also enjoyed some personal success. This past season, he made his first All-Star team in nearly a decade and was named to the All-Defensive First Team
But while leaving the city he’s called home for the past three years was tough, he’s ready to be in Boston.
“It’s definitely been a whirlwind,” Holiday said of the past couple of weeks. “Just my family was established there, and we had school and things like that. We had friends. But it’s also a part of the business. I feel like coming here is definitely my best chance of winning. And being able to help the guys here who have made big moves and done great things in this league. So, I’m here to really just help step up that game and become a champion.”
And as Holiday settles into his new home, the Celtics are eager to help.
“Everybody here has just been so gracious and graceful,” said Holiday. “Everyone has tried to tell me where to live and find out what neighborhood to be in and how close everything is. And that’s just off the court, which I super appreciate because I’m all about family, and my family is the most important thing to me.”
In three of the last four seasons, Holiday has taken home the Twyman–Stokes Teammate of the Year Award. He’s constantly committed to working hard on the court and improving the community around him.
He’s ready to give Boston his all on the court, no matter how much his family may dislike the idea.
“Growing up in LA as a Laker fan, I know a lot of my family is probably hurt,” Holiday said. “But I know this is a blue-collar town. They love people who work hard and they put their heart into it. And that’s just the type of person that I am. Every time I step onto the court, I give you my everything.”
With Marcus Smart, Williams, and Brogdon all gone, expectations for the Celtics are as high as ever. Stevens flipped a huge chunk of the team’s core, placing a bet on the likes of Holiday and Kristaps Porzingis to help propel them forward.
It’s been fifteen years since the Celtics have been able to hang a banner at TD Garden, and they’re desperate to hoist another one. But while the organization is chomping at the bit to get there, the fans may be even more excited.
There are few fanbases in professional sports more invested than Celtics fans, and as someone who has faced off against Boston in some heated battles, Holiday is more aware of that than anyone.
“They’re a bit crazy. Not gonna lie to you,” Holiday said with wide eyes after a deep breath. “They get rowdy. They get in your face. Definitely one of the best sixth men in the league, if not the best. I love their aggression. I love the environment.
“I think they care more about hard work on defense and getting loose balls and stuff like that over maybe windmill dunks and things of that nature. But again, that’s the type of guy I am. I’m ten toes to the ground, and I’m gonna push and grind as hard as I can. So, the fans are literally insane, and I’m proud to be, I’m proud to be a part of that.”
Holiday’s arrival in Boston is welcomed but was completely unexpected.
The Bucks have been one of the best teams in the NBA since he joined them in 2020, and despite an early playoff exit at the hands of the eight-seeded Miami Heat last year, they were the top team in the Eastern Conference.
His partnership with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton formed one of the deadliest Big 3s in the NBA, but the Bucks decided to go in a different direction this summer.
And while winning is the first thing on Holiday’s mind, the chance of a matchup with the Bucks is real, and he’s looking forward to it.
“That’s the reason why I play, is to win,” said Holiday. “I thought I had a chance of that in Milwaukee. It happened. Now I have the same chance and winning is the most important thing to me. But going to play against Milwaukee? It should be fun.”
Holiday has plenty of experience going up against the Celtics. Obviously, the most recent examples can be pulled from his time in Milwaukee, but he’s matched up with Boston dating back to his years with the Philadelphia 76ers.
“I mean, you just look at the resume, right?” Holiday said of the Celtics organization. “You look at the history that this place has had. You look at the organization and everything that I’ve always heard about it. You look at how competitive they’ve been in the last 5, 6 years. And even before that. Even when I was in Philly, I went to Game 7 with Boston. Rondo hit two threes to go to the conference championship. So ever since I’ve been into the league and before that, this has been a championship-caliber organization.”
No longer a 76er, no longer a Buck, Holiday is all in on the Celtics.
With himself, Porzingis, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and everyone else in place, the goal is simple and Holiday is ready to help Boston get there.
“It was a very easy decision that this would be one of the places that I would have loved to come to,” said Holiday. “We also lost to you guys in seven games not too long ago, so. I think being a part of this type of organization and this group is something that I really want to be part of.”