Celtics players treasure chance to play on Christmas Day


TORONTO — It seems no matter where Enes Kanter goes, a Christmas Day game is on the docket. 

Now with the Celtics, Kanter will be playing on Christmas Day for the fifth straight year with his third different team. 

But make no mistake about it. 

The veteran big man doesn’t take being part of one of the most high-profile nights of the NBA season for granted. 

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“It’s definitely a blessing playing on Christmas Day,” said Kanter, who has played on Christmas Day with Oklahoma City (2015 and 2016) and the New York Knicks (2017 and 2018).

“There’s some in the league … don’t get to play one Christmas game,” he said. “It’s definitely a blessing.”

Few on the Celtics roster know this as well as Kemba Walker. 

In his ninth NBA season, this will be the first time in Walker’s career when he has an actual game to prepare for on Christmas Day. 

Call it one of the perks of playing for a perennial playoff contender. 

“It means a lot for me personally,” Walker said. “I never got a chance to play on Christmas or even have this kind of notoriety. I’m definitely excited for it. As a kid, these are the kind of games you grew up watching. For me to be a part of it, is definitely a special moment.”

It certainly has been for third-year Celtic forward Jayson Tatum who knows nothing but Christmas Day games with Boston, which will be playing on Christmas for the third consecutive season. 

Said Tatum: “It means everything. I’ve been fortunate enough playing for the Celtics to have a lot of big games, been (playing) on Christmas every year. To do what you love to do on Christmas in front of millions of people, that’s all you could ask for.”

For Celtics rookie Grant Williams, playing on Christmas Day is a reminder of just how fortunate he is to begin his career with a team like the Celtics. 

“It’s something you dream about, something you’re thankful for,” Williams told NBC Sports Boston. “You always watch it growing up.”

Williams recalls watching the New York Knicks and Carmelo Anthony play, as well as late-game heroics by then-Chicago star Derrick Rose over the Los Angeles Lakers on Christmas in 2011. 

“It’s exciting to be part of that select group to play on Christmas,” Williams said.


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