Marcus, Markieff Morris embrace rare chance to play each other on Christmas Day


BOSTON – Christmas Day games can be tough on families, forcing the usual holiday routines of unwrapping presents and eating a festive meal together, to be radically altered.

And then there’s Boston Celtics forward Marcus Morris who is absolutely loving the idea of having a game to play, on Christmas Day.

Yes, he has missed eight straight games for the Celtics with a sore left knee, had been considered questionable to return but definitely be back tonight for a matchup that goes beyond Christmas.

But for Morris, the only thing in question tonight is how many minutes will he be able to play against the Washington Wizards and his twin brother, Markieff Morris.

“I’m playing on Christmas,” Marcus Morris told NBC Sports Boston. “Even if I just have to go out there and test it out. It means a lot to me, a lot to my family.  Not just because I’m playing against my brother, but the fact that I’m blessed that I’m able to play on Christmas day.”

In his seventh season, this will be the second time Morris will get an opportunity to play on Christmas Day. The first time came in 2012 when he was a second-year pro with Houston. The Rockets played at Chicago and emerged with a 120-97 win. Morris, who was in the starting lineup, had 10 points and five rebounds.

When Morris has played for the Celtics this season, he has been a solid contributor both as a starter and a reserve off the bench. That’s not all that surprising when you consider the expectations they had for Morris after acquiring him via trade from Detroit, in exchange for Avery Bradley this past summer.

"He's going to be a big part of the team this year," Mike Zarren, Boston's assistant General Manager, said of Morris shortly after his arrival. 

For Morris, getting a chance to play in this Christmas day game is a reminder of how far he has come as a player, and how important his brother Markieff has been in that journey.

“It made everything so much easier, having my brother,” Marcus Morris told NBC Sports Boston, adding that when he does become a father he hopes to have twins. “The percentages of going to the NBA are so low. But two in the same household? That’s because we had each other, pushing each other so we weren’t going to leave one behind. That wasn’t going to happen.”

According to NCAA statistics, only one percent of male high school basketball participants go on to play at the Division I level. And from that pool of Division I basketball talent, only 1.1 percent are among the 60 players drafted.

The Morris twins, both first-round draft picks in 2011, had visions of being pro athletes but for most of their childhood that seemed more likely on the gridiron.

When they played football, Marcus was the quarterback.

And Markieff?

“Wide receiver, of course,” said Marcus. “You had to know that, right?”


But the promise they began to show as basketball players made the decision to walk away from football an easy one.

Now mind you, they both had great basketball size but that means very little in Philly where ballers come in all shapes and sizes.

And being as big as they were at the start of high school without having played much organized basketball, there was indeed a learning curve for them to overcome.

“Coming up, with the size we had, if you’re not that good, you get crucified,” Morris said.

But the boys were serious about basketball, and knew they had to become quick studies to hold their own in a highly competitive Philadelphia preps scene that has consistently produced NBA talent. 

According to, there are 16 players from the Philadelphia area currently in the NBA, a list that includes some familiar names like All-star guard Kyle Lowry of Toronto and Miami's Dion Waiters.

Being able to hold their own against the best local talent gave them the confidence that they could play at the highest of levels in college.

But they struggled in making a final decision.  

They went back and forth with their commitment to Memphis which was coached at the time by John Calipari, and eventually wound up attending Kansas instead.  

Marcus Morris was rated as the 10th-best power forward nationally and 29th-best prospect nationally according to Markieff wasn’t far behind as being rated the 17th-best power forward and 49th-best prospect nationally by the same recruiting website.

 But the Jayhawks weren’t exactly knocking on their door.

In fact, it was just the opposite according to Marcus Morris.

“We called Kansas; they didn’t call us,” Morris said. “We called them and were like, ‘you got a lot of guys leaving. Could we fit over there?’”

Morris added, “They didn’t get the (recruiting) class that they wanted. So, there were two spots open and they were willing to take a chance and see how it plays out; that’s what happened.”

It was a move that worked for all involved, particularly the Morris Twins who were mentored by former NBA and Kansas standout Danny Manning, an assistant coach with the Jayhawks at that time who is now head coach at Wake Forest.

“Without him, I wouldn’t be sitting here today,” Morris said. “Took me and my brother under his wing, treated us like family. It was a blessing.”

For Marcus, the same can be said for tonight’s game. After spending Christmas day together at his house, the Morris family will come over to the TD Garden and see the twins on the floor together doing what they could not have done without the other’s support – playing in the NBA, on Christmas, on one of the biggest and brightest stages of the regular season.

“It’s a big deal,” Morris said. “Have my brother (Markieff), family, my grandfather (Thomas Morris), he’s 87 years old. He’s gonna be there. To see us both play against each other. He’s never seen us on the court, together, against each other, live. This will be the first time.”

Win or lose, this will be a memorable night for Marcus Morris whose lone wish for Christmas – to be with his family – will be granted both on and off the court.


Contact Us