MILAN -- No matter where the Boston Celtics went, the people of Italy showed them love.
If the Celtics have the kind of season they believe they're capable of and Doc Rivers has his way, they'll reciprocate that with a return trip.
"I think we've adopted Italy, I really do," Rivers said.
Boston's run towards Banner 17 in 2008 began with a European tour in the preseason that included time spent in Rome. Rivers recalls that trip bringing about a lot of goodwill, new friends and, ultimately, an NBA title.
"You can see that now we've come to Milan . . . let's do it again," Rivers said. "If we do it again, we should come here and have a parade as well. That would be terrific. I think all our players would say yes to that."
Although the Celtics spent time this past week in Istanbul as well as Milan, there's little doubt that the connection they experienced in Milan was stronger.
Celtics captain Paul Pierce was out and about on Saturday and noticed NBA signage with a large gathering of people nearby. As Pierce left the Duomo Cathedral of Milan, slowly but surely fans began to follow him, looking very much like a modern day Pied Piper.
"It was pretty cool," chuckled Pierce. "It just shows how our game has grown, how many fans we have over here in Milan. It was a lot of fun to be able to enjoy it with the fans."
Pierce added: "It's like a way of giving back. These people appreciate me; appreciate not only myself but my team, the whole NBA. A lot of them stay up late at night just to watch the games. For them to get a player in here, to be live and interact with them, I thought it was fun."
And the Celtics appreciate the fact that their most recent title run began in this country.
"I hope Italy is a lucky charm," Rivers said. "We talked about it the other day. We're going to play it that way for sure. We believe that, we hope that the entire country gets behind us, prays for us, and do whatever it takes because we want to win another title. We really do."