ORLANDO — Cypress Creek High School athletic director Bobby Biaggi received a call last week from a group that wanted to use the school’s gym. ADs get these calls fairly often, and they are accommodating when it is possible. But this call was slightly different from the others, because it was from the Boston Celtics.
When traveling for road games, the Celtics typically stay at posh downtown hotels near the arenas. It makes transportation to shootarounds and games more simple, and it just makes sense.
But last summer, as the team was building itineraries for this season, coach Brad Stevens decided that the trip here to face the Magic could become a kind of busman’s holiday. The players would practice and play, but they would also be encouraged to bring their families to the Ritz-Carlton Grand Lakes, a sprawling golf resort that is about a 25-minute drive to the Amway Center.
“We wanted the guys to be able to enjoy it,” said John Connor, the team’s travel and equipment director.
That plan dissipated a bit as the Celtics constructed their youthful roster, but they kept the hotel reservation anyway. The Ritz boasts many luxuries, but a full indoor basketball court is not one of them.
Connor had many contacts from being part of Orlando’s NBA Summer League, and one recommended Biaggi and his sparkling gym, the home of the Bears.
NBA veteran Amar’e Stoudemire attended Cypress Creek High, and when he played for the Phoenix Suns, Biaggi said, he sometimes returned to the gym during summers with his shooting coaches in tow. But the school had never welcomed an entire NBA team before.
“I didn’t let anybody know they were coming today,” Biaggi said. “If anyone found out, they didn’t find out from me. It’s just a common courtesy.”
Not even the school’s basketball team?
“Right,” Biaggi said. “They’re all going to be so mad at me when they find out the Boston Celtics were here.”
The Celtics arrived in their big tour bus with its tinted windows early Saturday afternoon. They brought their own basketballs, their own equipment, and their own staff. Biaggi said that when Stevens arrived, he recalled visiting the Cypress Creek gym for an AAU tournament while he coached at Butler.
On Saturday, an unoccupied patrol car sat near the gym entrance, but that was the only sign that anything unusual was taking place inside. A youth league flag football game was being played across the street; otherwise, the school’s campus was quiet.
Inside the gym — with bear claws painted on the walls — the Celtics went through their one-hour session, Biaggi and Cypress Creek basketball coach Curtis Legons watched quietly. Biaggi said he did not take any pictures; he did not want to be a nuisance.
“I know some of the guys would have liked to have gotten a picture of him, though,” Biaggi said, pointing to Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas.
Celtics vice president of media services Jeff Twiss said the team typically holds two or three road practices a year at local high schools. During a January trip to the West Coast, for example, the Celtics worked out at Santa Monica (Calif.) High.
For Biaggi, Saturday’s experience was worth carving out a couple hours on a cloudy weekend afternoon.
“Really,” he said, “it was pretty cool.”
Bradley still away
Guard Avery Bradley, who sprained his left elbow in the Celtics’ win over Utah on Wednesday, did not rejoin the team on Saturday.
Stevens initially said Bradley would miss the entire three-game trip, but he showed some improvement by Friday evening and Stevens had left open the possibility of him meeting the team here.
“If he’s still hurting and needs a couple more days,” Stevens said, “it makes sense to let him take those two days.”
Guard Evan Turner, who is dealing with lingering toe pain, sat out practice but is expected to play against the Magic on Sunday.
“I just wanted him to be off his feet,” Stevens said.