The four players were all extremely excited to represent not only the Celtics but the country as a whole. Smart and Brown were invited to the camp just a few weeks ago as replacements for the players who had withdrawn, joining Tatum and Walker on the roster. In reaction to the news, neither player could contain their eagerness to get going.
I love playin don’t matter where. But playing for @usabasketball is somethin I’ve been a part of for a while. I take it serious & am 🙏🏾 to even be thought of. ☘️ is everything to me. But to wear 🇺🇸 means the world to me. To do it w my teammates @KembaWalker & @jaytatum0 is 🔥 🔥
With four players from their NBA roster participating in the camp, Boston by far has the most representation on the team. This alone may have been enough green in red, white, and blue to satisfy Celtics junkies; however, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown seem to have had another surprise hidden up their sleeves.
With the players having arrived in Vegas last night, Team USA's first practice was held earlier today. There, the players participated in skills and drills and received their new jersey numbers for the rest of the summer. Celtics fans, keep an eye open for a few nods to legends of the Garden's parquette floor.
The newest member of the Celtics and All-NBA point guard Kemba Walker will be wearing #26, while the 2019 All-NBA defensive team guard Marcus Smart will dawn #40. With Tatum and Brown, the real fun begins.
Shooting guard Jaylen Brown will wear #33, the now historic number of Boston sports great Larry Bird. Drafted in 1978 out of Indiana State, Larry Bird went on to become one of the greatest NBA players of all time. Playing his entire career in Boston, the 12x all-star won three NBA championships, three MVP awards, and an Olympic Gold Medal with the famed "Dream Team" in 1992. Bird's number was retired to the rafters by the Celtics' in 1993, where it has remained ever since.
Jayson Tatum will be wearing #34 during his time at camp, a number more recent Celtics fans will certainly remember as that of small forward Paul Pierce.
Pierce was drafted by the Celtics with the 10th pick of the 1998 NBA draft where he played for 15 seasons before being traded to the Brooklyn Nets in a blockbuster deal. During his time in Boston, he had ten NBA all-star appearances and won a championship in 2008 as the head of the Celtics "Big Three" which included Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. Pierce's #34 jersey was the most recent to be retired by the Celtics in 2018.
Paul Pierce after his last game ever in the TD Garden. Photo via Brian Babineau
Tatum, who has received comparisons to Pierce both before and during his time in Celtics green, has spoken on numerous occasions about his admiration and respect for the 2008 NBA Finals MVP. Knowing this, his selection of #34 for the camp certainly seems like a tip of the cap to the NBA great.
As the duo of Tatum and Brown are considered to be the foundation of the future for the Boston Celtics, it's really cool to see them pay respects with a fun nod to the legends who dawned the shamrock in years past.
With their first day complete, Team USA's training camp is now in motion and Celtics' fans should be excited. This is an excellent opportunity for our guys to build chemistry heading into a season where the Eastern Conference seems wide open. If today is any indication, they will get a lot of time to simply get to know each other both on and off the court and in the process, learn how they can all benefit from one another.
As mentioned before, this could end up being a huge step forward for the stars of this Celtics roster as well as a crucial element to the Boston's success next season.
As the camp continues on through the next few days more news and footage should be on the way before the final FIBA roster is announced on August 17th, so keep an eye out for that. To satisfy your taste buds for right now, you can check out a few more pictures of Boston's participants in day one of the camp below.