Kris Humphries had a big life before he came to Boston. He was an NBA player who doubled as a tabloid regular. He was Kim Kardashian’s husband (and then ex-husband), which made him a reality show character.
When he joined the Celtics, many of his teammates didn’t know much about his personality besides what they’d read or seen on TV.
“His life had been really put out there. There was a lot of attention away from the court,” Celtics Assistant Coach Walter McCarty said.
“I think everybody judges him from what has happened,” teammate Jared Sullinger said. “You know what I’m taking about.”
But as soon as Humphries got to town, his persona changed. He was still known for his 2011 marriage and 2013 divorce to the E! network queen, but no one seemed to care, at least not in Boston.
According to Humphries, who finished his season with the Celtics on Wednesday night, Boston was a place for normalcy, anonymity, and sports. Locals were interested in what he did for the team and little else. An injury kept him out of the lineup late in the season but he was praised by the coaching staff for his effort all season long. He averaged 8.4 points per game. “He always stays positive,” McCarty said.
Once Boston fans trust that you’re working for them on the court, “they embrace you,” Humphries said after a team practice, as the season wound down. “It’s also easier to stay focused here. It’s not New York City,” he added. “There’s something going on in New York every single day. It’s just harder to focus on basketball.”
Humphries, 29, who left town on Thursday to travel, says that Boston has been the right place for him, both professionally and socially. He was able to make a home for himself near Chinatown. He shopped at Restoration Hardware and became a regular at restaurants such as Trade and Scampo. He spent much of his free time at home watching “American Pickers” and “Pawn Stars.”
“I watch HGTV,” he said. “ ‘Love It or List It’ and ‘Flip This House.’ ”
Humphries said he didn’t prioritize dating while he was here — although he admitted that he’s not a fan of dating in general. He said he prefers to get to know someone in a group, through friends of friends, and then enter into a relationship. He did say that the people he met here were smart. That’s one of the reasons he’s liked living in the city.
“It seems like a really educated and education-focused community,” he said. “For me, I respect people who are really smart — or run a successful company or have invented something.”
Humphries’s sister Kaela, a model who lives in New York City, said she believes that Boston made Humphries happy because it resembles their hometown, Minneapolis, in its priorities. People aren’t concerned with appearances, and they’re more interested in her brother’s record than his personal life.
“It’s not about who’s the most glamorous player,” she said. “You guys don’t have paparazzi sitting outside. People don’t just come up and take pictures of his face. They do that in other cities. Like you’re an animal at the zoo.”
It’s unclear whether Humphries will return, but if it happens, it’ll be a good thing, Kaela said.
“It’s been a really good place for him. I just think he’s had a lot of good things going on this year,” she said, adding that proximity to family also helps. “I get to come up once a month. I’ll take credit for some of the happiness.”