It was a groovy Halloween for Lamar Stevens and Dalano Banton, as they attended the Sr. Celtics Halloween Dance Clinic at the Tobin Community Center in Roxbury, Massachusetts.
Over 100 senior citizens took part, learning choreography from the Boston Celtics Dance Team. Stevens and Banton came dressed as a Viking and a referee, respectively, and they made sure to get in on the action.
“It was cool to be in the environment and see, you know, the smiles on their face, be involved in the community, and that’s what it’s all about,” Stevens said after the event.
Leon Powe, Lamar Stevens, and Dalano Banton are learning some choreography at the Sr. Celtics Halloween Dance Clinic. pic.twitter.com/GjzFz5Hk8h— Jack Simone (@JackSimoneNBA) October 31, 2023
Stevens and Banton sat among the crowd of attendees, dancing next to them, picking winners, and signing golden basketballs to give out as prizes.
“Just how big the Celtics [in regard to] community,” said Banton. “The organization trying to put their best foot forward to help the people and make people feel like they’re involved with what we have going on. Just being able to find ourselves in situations like this to give back or just show our faces, it’s a little thing for us that goes along for other people.
Joining them was former Celtic Leon Powe, who was dressed as a giant pumpkin. His appearance continued the trend of ex-Celtics being around the team, as Joe Mazzulla sent out a mass email ahead of training camp encouraging them to return.
“I think it just shows the connectivity within the organization, not just with the current players, but the former great players that have played here and had success,” Stevens said of the number of ex-Celtics returning. “It just shows how much we’re supported, and it gives us an extra boost of confidence.
“Just to have those conversations to know how to navigate through a new city playing in Boston, it’s definitely been great for all of us just from an organization standpoint too.”
Powe was the most active dancer of the three, to the point where he was falling backward as a result of his commitment to the routine.
“This is exactly what he [Powe] had in mind [when Mazzulla asked former players to return],” Stevens said with a smile. “This is what he wanted.”
Leon Powe hit the floor at the end, but he gave it his all. Lamar Stevens, too.— Jack Simone (@JackSimoneNBA) October 31, 2023
Dalano Banton… was more of an observer. pic.twitter.com/3Vc2ChBLJH
Fully in the Halloween spirit, Banton said he liked dressing up as a referee even as a kid, while Stevens noted his favorite costume growing up was Spider-Man.
Both players are new to the Celtics this year, but Banton is not new to the state. He played high school ball for two separate schools in Massachusetts, one in Granby and one in Northfield.
“It’s definitely good [to be back],” Banton said. “Just being able to continue to meet more people out here. Relationships that I had through high school, I still have today. So, it’s been great just to be back. I’m familiar with the area a little bit.”
Hailing from Philadelphia, Stevens had the opposite experience but the same outcome.
“I mean, in Philly, they don’t really like the Celtics very much, but this is what I always wanted to do my whole life,” Stevens said. “So, yeah, change of heart for sure. I’ve just been enjoying the process, enjoying being a part of a great organization, and learning with some great players and under some great coaches.”
Neither Stevens nor Banton has earned significant minutes yet, but both saw the floor for the first time in Boston’s most recent win over the Washington Wizards.
They each played some garbage-time minutes, but their lack of playing time isn’t a reflection of the work they’ve been putting in behind the scenes. Conversations with Mazzulla have bred a sense of togetherness and a team-first, stay-ready mentality.
“Definitely just finding ways to impact the game,” Banton said of what Mazzulla has stressed in practice. “Being a dog. He emphasizes a lot [to] the whole roster through the top to the bottom. Every day, it’s a grind, man. Whether you’re in the rotation, not in the rotation, it’s every day to be better, every day to win the day.
“Just not getting tired, not getting bored of the process. Because, with the team that we have, we have a lot of talent, and it’s going to lie on guys from the second unit and even from the third unit, guys at the end of the bench to come onto the court when they’re called on and be at their best and be perfect at times. So, it’s been conversations like that, but he’s very confident in us. He sees the work that we put in every day. And it’s been great. It’s been a good process so far.”
As Stevens and Banton have put in the work behind the scenes for a Celtics team loaded with top-end talent, their dedication to making an impact in the community has made its way to the forefront.
That said, Great Pumpkin Powe put them both to shame on the dance floor.