Boston Celtics

Europe trip a good chance for Celtics to bond

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Europe trip a good chance for Celtics to bond

BOSTON - The Boston Celtics European tour begins this weekend as the team heads overseas to Italy where they'll prepare to play three-time Euroleague Champion and 26-time Italian League Champion Olimpia Milano in Milan on Oct. 6.

Then it's to Spain, where the C's will take on nine-time Euroleague and 32-time Spanish League Champion Real Madrid on Oct. 8.

The games are just another step in the right direction for the NBA as they continue to grow the brand globally. And what better way to do that than to send one of the most famous franchises in the sport there?

Of course it's not the first time the C's have been sent overseas. Who can forget their trip to Rome in 2007, the same year Kevin Garnett and the gang joined the team? Players from that team have pointed to that trip in Italy as a big reason for their close bond throughout the season, leading to their historic run to an NBA championship.

When Garnett and Ray Allen signed, the thought was that it would take the team some time to jell - maybe a season - before they'd win a championship. But the rest of the NBA found out rather quickly that that wasn't the case as the Celtics began the season 29-3.

So how much of that early success was due to being abroad before the season? Brian Scalabrine, who was a member of that championship team and now works for CSN New England, said the trip helped them break down walls that otherwise might have been up during the early points of the season.

"I'll say this: the one thing when you're overseas, more times than not you're not around anybody else," Scalabrine said. "You're not around your family, you're not around your boys, you just got each other. So you go out to dinner every night. But I would think that that team, no matter where we are we would have been close because we had Garnett, [Paul] Pierce, the way those guys are. But for sure, those first seven days in Rome, we got to know each other really well which allowed you to grow on the court because you could fight and have disagreements but you are still going out to eat at night. So I think that's the biggest thing especially when you have a high level of personalities and you're working things out."

The expectations for this year's Celtics team are obviously different than those of the 2007 team. But the trip can still be effective in building bonds between the young players and allowing themselves to become more comfortable around each other.

"You just really lock in to each other and I think you get rid of distractions," Scalabrine said. "People over there don't care as much. You have things to do but you feel a bond because there are no other distractions."

As for how much it will translate into wins? That's to be determined. Celtics coach Brad Stevens has been overseas with multiple teams and has had mixed results in the end.

"I've laughed about that a little bit because I've been on overseas trips with the college teams where you don't have a very good season, and then you come back and you go to the National Championship game," Stevens said. "When we went to the National Championship game we talked about how great it was. I think that the bottom line is that it's a good team bonding experience. The opportunity to improve together and spend time together is a good, positive thing. It's a small piece of a long puzzle."

Celtics to retire Pierce's No. 34 Feb. 11 vs. Cavs

Celtics to retire Pierce's No. 34 Feb. 11 vs. Cavs

The Celtics announced that they will retire former captain Paul Pierce's No. 34 jersey Sunday, Feb. 11, when they play the Cleveland Cavaliers at TD Garden. 

The game is scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m.

Pierce, the franchise No. 2 all-time leading scorer behind John Havlicek, played 15 years in Boston and helped the C's win their 17th title in 2008.

His No. 34 will be the 22nd number retired by the Celtics.

Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca had told the Boston Globe on Thursday that the Pierce jersey retirement would be this season.

Last month, Pierce signed a ceremonial one-day contract with the Celtics so he could officially retire with the Green.