In the 2007 preseason, the Celtics embarked on a trip to Rome and London to challenge the Pistons and Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference. The trip was initially designed to get newcomers Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen acquainted with the team. The players all bonded together and when they came back, had a team chemistry that could not be beat.
This Monday, the 2012-13 Celtics team set off for six days in Istanbul and three in Milan. They will have two-a-day practices and play an exhibition came in each city. The Celtics will play Fenerbahce Ulker this Friday and Milano on October 7. The hope is for these experiences to create the same chemistry that the 2007-08 Celtics had.
Kevin Garnett stated, “The Europe trip, socially, just made us interact with each other. When you’re around seeing a new city with the new guys, it’s new and you’re hitting restaurants. You’re social, you’re out and doing whatever it is, but you’re doing it as a group. A little bit of bonding happens… Obviously it worked then, and we’ll see if it works now.”
In addition to their play time, the team will also participate in NBA Cares events. This will be another opportunity for team cohesion. Doc Rivers was quoted saying, “I do think it will have something. It will be good for us. I think when you’re traveling like this over seas, it’s always pretty good.”
Rajon Rondo, the recently anointed team leader, is also looking forward to the upcoming trip. “We’re a close-knit team already,” he said. “We do a lot of activities off the court already and we do what we have to do on the court.”
Garnett agreed. “We have continuity,” he said. “Obviously you got to keep it continuous, stay consistent with it. For the most part, we’re hanging out. Turkey will probably amplify that because we don’t know anybody over there. Right now we’re all trying to get this new system. We’re all trying to figure each other out.”
“It’s going to be fun, because we’re going to have to stick together as a team,” Sullinger said. “We’re probably going to be the only people who know English, and on top of that, we’re probably going to explore together as a team. So everything is going to be fun and it’s going to develop team chemistry.”
Paul Pierce concludes, “That sort of bond really helps a team in the long run. That was instrumental in our championship run the first year and I’m excited about the trip. This is going to be a long journey, starting in Turkey and hopefully it ends with an NBA Championship.”