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Celtics Notebook

Brad Stevens appreciates Bill Russell’s words

Jeff Green shakes hands with legend Bill Russell, who was recognized during the game.barry chin/globe staff/Globe Staff

The video began to play on the Jumbotron at TD Garden when the first quarter ended, and the crowd fell silent.

But the Celtics did not stay in a huddle to talk about the game, their home-opening, 105-98 loss against the Milwaukee Bucks Friday.

Instead, led by coach Brad Stevens, the players came out and stood near center court, craning their necks toward the sky.

What played above them was a montage from the career of arguably the greatest Celtic of all, Bill Russell, who a few hours earlier had a 7-foot-5-inch bronze statue in his likeness unveiled at City Hall Plaza.


Russell, a world champion 11 times during his 13 years with the Celtics, sat along the Garden’s baseline, where a spotlight found the 79-year-old as the video reached its end. He stood, and so did the crowd, which roared and applauded for well over a minute.

The Celtics, led by Stevens, were among those standing and applauding.

“There are things that are bigger than the game . . . ” Stevens said afterward. “To honor Bill Russell, and for us to be in a huddle while they are honoring Bill Russell, wouldn’t have been right. You prioritize the right thing over a huddle.”

Russell acknowledged the large ovation by raising his right hand while he stood. He looked around and appeared quite humbled. Celtics swingman Jeff Green shook Russell’s hand before inbounding the ball when the game resumed.

After Russell’s statue was unveiled, the Hall of Fame center spoke at a private ceremony held nearby, and Stevens was among those in attendance.

“It was great,” Stevens said before the game. “You’re around and listening to the greatest winner of all time in the history of team sports; I mean, it’s really remarkable when you think of it in that way.


“What he had to say was phenomenal, the other speakers were phenomenal. I just thought it was a neat event and I’m really, really glad that I went to it.”

There were several speakers at the star-studded event, from Boston mayor Thomas M. Menino to outgoing NBA commissioner David Stern. Russell spoke last and shared many stories.

Stevens said that at one point, he thought about leaving the event early just because he had to prepare for the game.

“But, nothing could have been more important than standing there through that, and making sure I that I heard every word of it because it really was special,” Stevens said.

Stevens, who said he did have a chance to briefly meet Russell, said much of what Russell said resonated with him.

“But I thought that the way that he started, where he talked about ‘I am my father’s son and my parents love me, and I felt like I could accomplish anything because of that,’ ” Stevens said. “That’s pretty powerful stuff right out of the gates. And he followed it up with the team person that he is all the way through.”

Deadline passes

The Celtics and Avery Bradley’s representatives failed to reach agreement on a four-year contract extension for the shooting guard before the midnight deadline late Thursday, meaning Bradley will be a restricted free agent next summer.

Bradley, a former first-round draft pick who is in his fourth season with the Celtics, was eligible for an extension on his rookie deal. Both the Celtics and Bradley’s camp had interest in a long-term deal, but they couldn’t come to an agreement on money.


Now, teams will be able to offer Bradley a contract next summer but the Celtics will have the right to match those offers, which could become difficult for the Celtics if one of the interested teams has deep pockets and offers him a rich deal.

Bradley said he wasn’t worried that both sides couldn’t reach a deal, though.

“Not at all, I never really was,” the shooting guard said before the game. “I’ve just been trying to focus on the season more than anything. You know, when the time comes, I’ll worry about it.”

Bradley added, “I just try to focus on just basketball and just let everything else work itself out. I’m excited, man. Of course I would love to stay here. I’ve been here going on four years now so I love it. I’m just going to continue to work hard, like I said, and just focus on this season.”

Bradley was cleared to play after tests to determine a concussion were negative. Bradley got into a collision with Toronto’s Kyle Lowry while chasing a loose ball in the fourth quarter of Wednesday’s 93-87 loss.

But Bradley struggled Friday, scoring 8 points on 4-of-14 shooting. He fouled out late in the fourth quarter.

Extra motivation

Before the game, highlights of the Red Sox’ run to the 2013 World Series championship were shown on the Jumbotron. Moments later, team owners Tom Werner and John Henry came to center court with the trophy . . . Guard Rajon Rondo, who is sidelined while he recovers from knee surgery, addressed the crowd before the game wearing a fake beard, a nod to the Red Sox.


Baxter Holmes can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @BaxterHolmes.