NEWPORT, R.I. -- NBA teams are no stranger to team building exercises. Last summer, Rajon Rondo herded many of his teammates to Los Angeles for some flag football. The Los Angeles Lakers and Indiana Pacers have played paintball. The belief is that, if you take players out of their comfort zone, it forces them to bond quicker than they might otherwise.
Forgive the 2013-14 Boston Celtics for being boring. Asked what the team did to bond the past three days, Jeff Green admitted the list wasn't particularly thrilling.
"Dinners, video games, challenges, cards," said Green. "Just being around each other. We didn’t really get out to Newport that much. We just stayed in the hotel."
New Celtics coach Brad Stevens isn't a big believer in gimmicks. Back at Butler, he shunned Midnight Madness ("We went to work," he noted) and believes that simply getting the team out of its typical training facility for three days might have been enough to aid team chemistry.
"I think the idea of coming here was good," said Stevens. "I said this the other day, I’m not a big believer in [off-the-court] games to team build and some of that stuff. When you start to do tough things together, you really start to build a camaraderie."
Translation: These Celtics team will bond on the floor. In a season in which few are giving them a chance to be competitive, Stevens believes that adversity could bring his troops together.
But a few days in Newport certainly couldn't hurt the cause.
"They are at least getting more familiar, right? We all are," said Stevens. "And it’s good to see them around, good to spend time. Again, this time on the court will trump all that other stuff as far as sitting around and eating and spending time together. Because that’s when you really find out about how willing [players are] to give for one another."
With so many new faces on the team, second-year forward Jared Sullinger suggested that just the new mix of players has fostered some interesting interactions.
"We have a good time after dinner with the team," said Sullinger. "Just trying to know everybody. [Kris Humphries] and Gerald [Wallace] and MarShon [Brooks], they bring the Brooklyn flavor. They always talk about what happened in the locker room in Brooklyn. We always talk about what happened in the locker room here."
Add in a first-year Brazilian center, a Canadian rookie, a couple well-traveled training camp invites, and a new coaching staff and the Celtics are lucky they don't need "Hello, My Name Is" nametags.
"We just got to spend some time with each other, get to know each other on and off the court," said rookie Kelly Olynyk. "That’s big. The more time you spend together, the more time you have to build that chemistry, the better off you’ll be."
Added veteran Keith Bogans, no stranger to a new team during a well-traveled career, "If you can hang together off the court and develop a good friendship off the court, once you step on the court, it makes it 10 times easier. If you can’t get along with a guy off the court, it’s going to make it harder on the court."