WALTHAM, Mass. -- Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens has suggested that his League Pass viewing is often fueled by the former players that he's coached. And, considering the number of bodies that passed through Boston during Stevens' first two years in the NBA, there is no shortage of options.
With the Los Angeles Lakers set to visit TD Garden on Wednesday, Stevens said he often finds his late-night scans landing on the Lakers, in large part because of Brandon Bass, the veteran power forward who spent four seasons flying quietly below the radar in Boston but whom Stevens praised for helping Boston's rebuilding process gain immediate traction.
"I've watched [the Lakers] quite a bit and I try to watch them more when they are on just because I really like Brandon," said Stevens. "I’m very fond of Brandon. Like I said about [Jared Sullinger] and Avery [Bradley], [Bass] really worked hard and he helped get this thing going in the right direction just by his work ethic, by the way he took care of his body, the example he set for his young teammates, and I’m really thankful that he was here with us."
Overstocked in the frontcourt, particularly while adding Amir Johnson and David Lee in early July, it was obvious that free-agent Bass would not be back in Boston. He agreed to a two-year, $6.1 million deal with the Lakers.
Though he won over Stevens for his lunch-pail approach and his willingness to embrace expanding his game, the Celtics had different needs at a position where the team often went small to fuel last season's playoff push.
Regardless, Bass left a strong impression on Boston's returning core.
"He was great, man. He’s a great pro. He’s a great teammate," said Evan Turner. "I was actually sad we didn’t re-sign him. But he’s a great pro. He’s a great guy to have in the locker room... a great role model. Whatever happened the day before, he always came to work. He was just a great guy to have on the team and a real professional."
Thin on veteran voices, these young Celtics benefited from someone like Bass, who led by example. What's more, Bass never became a distraction, even if his playing time or performance dipped.
"I think, one thing is, [Bass] went with the way it was -- out with the old, in with the new," said Turner. "He always tried to adapt with how the team was doing. And I think he was one of the big parts of why we were able to make our [playoff] push. He was always poised. You know, he had great days with the Celtics early on. He wouldn't speak on what the past regime did or anything [while Boston navigated the rebuild]. He was just trying to make sure we won. He was a great guy to be around."
It's largely appropriate that Bass' return will fly quietly under the radar as Kobe Bryant's final game in Boston will be the focal point on Wednesday. Bass wouldn't have it any other way.