Bruno Fernando had just started answering a question when the interview room door swung open with force.
"Time’s up," fellow Celtics newcomer Dennis Schroder announced with a sly smile. "You gotta go."
The 28-year-old Schroder was pulling a veteran move. With a full list of Media Day chores in front of him, he wasn’t about to be stalled by a younger player. So he crashed the NBC Sports Boston interview room and playfully sent Fernando on his way.
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Shedding his hoodie, Schroder pulled at his new No. 71 as he plopped into a director’s chair.
"It’s a little weird still but I’ll probably get used to it," said Schroder. "Seventy-one, that’s the best number for me, just [reversing] the 17."
Much of the buzz about Schroder before he signed in Boston was the way his personality and style of play might have clashed with others during his stint with the Los Angeles Lakers. But from playfully downplaying his missing signature blonde streak in his hair ("Don’t worry, it’ll be back") to brushing off the missed payday in L.A., Schroder couldn’t have been more affable in his first full day in Celtics green.
You let fans vote for your jersey number. Were you worried about getting a number you didn’t like?
DS: "I'm from Braunschweig (Germany), and Hannover is like, right next to it, and it's a little rivalry going on. So I went to the [soccer] game, because my friend played second division and played against Hannover [96, since the team was established in 1896], and people saw me there and went crazy. Then they jumped on my app and voted. Yeah, I’m lucky that 71 was picked.”
It might be a sensitive subject but Lakers fans were on the app voting for 84 because that’s how many millions you turned down.
DS: "I was thinking about that, too. I was thinking about getting that 84. But my family was like, '71 would be nice' ... I would have picked whatever the fans voted."
I thought it was interesting that you sort of embraced the “fumbling the bag" with the Instagram post. You could sit here and bristle at the questions and get mad about it. Did you make the conscious decision to own this and learn from it?
DS: "End of the day, I secured myself after my fourth year -- my family, me, we don't have to worry about nothing. So, end of the day for me, it was a thing just to be comfortable in the place and be comfortable with all my teammates and the organization.
"The Lakers is a great organization and I don’t want to take nothing from them. But, at the end of the day, I didn't fit how I thought I would fit. End of the day, it is what it is. Learn from it? I mean, everybody is learning from everything that happens in life. You gotta learn from it. My family is healthy, my friends are healthy, I’m healthy -- so that’s the most important thing to me.”
And when you're poking fun at yourself next to a Bugatti, you can’t be too mad.
DS: "Yeah, it can’t be too bad."
What can Celtics fans expect this season from Dennis Schroder?
DS: "I'm going to go out and compete. That's what I always do. Go out and compete, give everything I have. Compete on the highest level, try to win every single game we play. And I think we got a lot of people in the locker room who've got the same mindset, and we're trying to create something big, and trying to get the 18th championship to this city."
What have your conversations with coach Ime Udoka and president of basketball operations Brad Stevens been like, especially where you fit and your role on this team?
DS: "I talked to them a little bit before I got here, so I think it's a great situation that I'm in. And, like I said, with the role that they gave me, I can do a lot with that. Just try to help my teammates win and try to put my teammates in position to be great. And especially Jaylen [Brown] and [Jayson] Tatum. I think even Al Horford, I played with him in Atlanta, so I know his chemistry and his mentality, how it is. He built great chemistry in the locker room and when he called me before I signed here, it meant a lot to me. I can’t wait."
Did other Celtics players recruit you?
DS: “Jaylen called me, Al, Brad, Ime. Jayson Tatum, he texted me.”
That has to resonate with you as a free agent?
DS: “Of course. They really wanted me here and you feel the appreciation and you feel like, OK, there is going to be a good situation for me to help my teammates win. And that's the reason why I said I want to be a Celtic.”
How can you help Jayson and Jaylen take the next step in their own growth?
DS: “They are superstars already in my eyes. Tatum, I had to guard him and I've watched him play -- I would just be honest with him every single time I see something because, on the court, playing-wise, they are gifted. Maybe some advice here and there can help them take the next step.
"I played with [Anthony Davis] and [LeBron James] last year, see what they did, maybe try to help them there. But when I meet them and we'll be on the same court and talk about things, I think that's when I can try to help them get to the next level."
When you were in Oklahoma City, you really thrived in that sixth man role. I don't know what they're going to do this year -- maybe you’re able to be in the starter mix -- but if you do come off the bench, how can you be best version of yourself?
DS: “For me, it don’t matter if I’m starting, if I’m coming off the bench, it's the same mindset every single time. So I'll try to win the game. When I get on the court, I compete. On both ends of the floor. And it don't matter what role it is."
You mentioned competing for Banner 18. Brooklyn's loaded, Milwaukee's coming off a championship season. But you feel like this group has a chance to compete?
DS: "I don't like to talk about goals, to be honest, because, to set a goal and say I want to win the 18th title, it’s a little tough. End of the day, that’s what we’re all competing for, all 30 teams. But I think we got a great group of guys, a lot of talent, and a lot of vets who can create that So, yeah, let’s see. We've got to see it [during] training camp, how we come together. How the chemistry is, that's the biggest part in my eyes -- how we come together as a team and then we just try to build from there.
Have you explored Boston at all?
DS: "First time that I’m in this area. I came [Sunday] with my family, pretty late as well. I didn't see that much. I've played here before, of course, a couple of times. My family came last year to the game as well. And we had a couple of days here when I played with the Lakers. So we're excited to be in the city, in this environment -- this winning environment. A winning city in all sports. I can't wait to get started.”
What don’t we know about Dennis Schroder? What are you doing off the court? What are we going to learn about you?
DS: “Off the court? Doing a lot stuff with my family, my loved ones at home. What else?”
Did I see you skateboarding on your Instagram?
DS: “Skateboarding as well but, during during the season, I gotta be a little bit ..."
Wait, is that in the contract, you can’t skateboard?
DS: “I think it’s in the contract. But I was a free agent this summer. I had to get it in."