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Jrue Holiday’s first words as a Celtic: “I’m on the right side”

Jrue Holiday made his first public comments after arriving in Boston, saying he wants to bring staunch defense to his new team – and to help its stars.

NBA: Boston Celtics at Milwaukee Bucks Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Jrue Holiday made his way to Boston just four days ago after being traded from the Milwaukee Bucks to the Portland Trail Blazers and then to the Celtics. In his first press conference with the team, the All-Star guard reflected on what he brings to Boston, and what it means to be a Celtic.

“I feel like coming here is definitely my best chance of winning and being able to help the guys here that have made big moves and done great things in this league,” Holiday said. “So, I’m here to really just help set up that game and become a champion.”

“I’m on the right side,” Holiday said about playing for rather than against Boston.

Boston was one of Holiday’s preferred destinations, he said, though many wanted his services. The two-time All-Star said he “had hopes of being here, and sometimes you don’t want to get your hopes up just because, I mean, you can get your heart broken that way.” Other notable teams who inquired about Holiday were the Miami Heat and the Philadelphia 76ers.

Holiday will bring defensive toughness and much-needed elite ball handling to Boston. A lot of that production was lost when Brad Stevens traded Marcus Smart to the Memphis Grizzlies in the deal that brought back Kristaps Porzingis earlier this offseason. Jrue says he embraces that role, and has already spoken in depth about his duties with head coach Joe Mazzulla.

NBA: Boston Celtics at Milwaukee Bucks Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports

“From the beginning [Mazzulla]’s told me my role is to do everything,” Holiday said. “Do everything, be all over the floor defensively, be able to control situations offensively and … calm us down and get us good shots toward the end of games.”

Holiday said Mazzulla got in contact with him immediately after the trade to prepare him for camp.

“Right when I got traded, Joe was the first person sending me clips on what to do for a pick-and-roll defense or how to run the offense – things like that,” he said.

“So it’s been very, very welcoming and [I’m] really just glad to be a part of this championship-caliber group,” Holiday said of his new teammates, whom he joined for the first time in practice Wednesday.

“You could tell that they were hungry … really about the things that maybe didn’t work last year, but making them better this year,” the three-time Teammate of the Year winner said of his new squad. “Going out there and playing with them … it felt great.”

Impressed with the effort Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown put into practice, Holiday said, “JT and JB were out there after people defensively and … I think for us to be a great team, obviously, those two are gonna carry us along a lot of the way.”

Describing his fit alongside Tatum and Brown, Holiday said “I just want to make it easier for them. I know that I am a threat offensively. I know that I do love to pass and be that type of player, but I can also be aggressive offensively, too.”

“Not only that, defensively I feel like I’m pretty good,” the five-time All Defensive player said, humbly.

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Boston Celtics Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Another thing Holiday brings to the team is a championship resume – the only one on Boston’s roster. Jrue told reporters what he learned from his 2021 championship run with the Bucks, as well as what he thought he could share with the rest of the team.

“It’s harder than everything you’ve ever done before and you’re gonna be tired, exhausted,” Holiday said. “But it’s about who has the mental toughness, who can fight through and make plays, honestly, toward the end of the games and in the series.”

Holiday also mentioned that he looks forward to playing the Bucks (circle Nov. 22 on your calendar – that’s when Holiday’s former squad comes to town). Milwaukee traded him away just one day after he told Bucks reporter Jim Owczarski he wanted to be a “Buck for life.”

“Going to play against Milwaukee, It should be fun,” Holiday said.

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