By: Baxter Holmes
WALTHAM — The night before Shabazz Napier worked out for the Celtics, he visited
their practice facility, looked around at the championship banners, and a warm feeling
washed over him.“It’s the Celtics,” the Roxbury native and ex-UConn point guard said after his workout at the facility Monday.
SportsGrowing up, when you’re a Boston fan, you get chills every time you watch the game.
It took me about 5-10 minutes to realize that I was here.” Napier met with local media wearing a green-and-white gingham shirt, which he swore was a coincidence — just the cleanest shirt in his suitcase after traveling the country to workout for a half-dozen NBA teams.
But in a session that lasted nearly 15 minutes, Napier gushed about his hometown
team, saying he will always “bleed green,” and that he has heard from plenty of friends
and family that hope the Celtics draft him.
“I grew up in Boston, so that’s all we know,” Napier said. “We were watching one of
the films in there that they put up and one of the guys was like, ‘Why were folks crying
when Paul Pierce injured himself in the playoffs and they picked him up off the court?’
I said, ‘That’s Boston. You won’t ever understand it unless you play for Boston or
you’ve lived in Boston.’
“That’s just how we are. We love our teams. There’s no bandwagon fans in Boston.
Whether we have a great year or not, we all support like it’s the best team we got. He
was like, ‘Man, Boston is crazy.’ I said, ‘That’s what we are. Some crazy fans that want
nothing but the best for our teams.’ It’s just crazy to even be here. I think it’s kind of
insane. It’s a blessing.”
Napier, who bookended a four-year career at UConn with national championships, is
projected to be picked in the mid-to-late first round of the June 26 draft, meaning he
could be available when the Celtics are picking No. 17. But he said he hasn’t allowed himself to dream about the possibility of playing for the
team that he grew up watching.
“I haven’t really thought about that,” he said. “It is crazy, though, actually working out
for them. The last time I remember being here was when I was younger — the Antoine
Walker camp. I was really, really young then. To come back here and actually work out
for the Celtics is definitely extraordinary.”
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