Boston native Shabazz Napier on the Celtics, friendship with Kemba Walker, Noah Vonleh

Roxbury native Shabazz Napier is a New England sports fan, growing up rooting for the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins, and of course the Boston Celtics while growing up in Boston’s Mission Hill neighborhood.

And while he stayed relatively local when he elected to play his college ball for the University of Connecticut Huskies in Storrs roughly two hours to the south where he helped win two NCAA titles, his pro career has taken him quite literally around the world if not back to Boston — at least yet. As is the case now, the team has usually been flush with guards, and his floor generalship has instead taken him to other teams.

Now playing for the G League’s Mexico City Capitanes along former No. 3 pick Jahlil Okafor and Celtics camp invitee Bruno Caboclo, Napier is following an increasingly popular path for players looking to get back in the league.

“I’ve been a huge Celtics fan, ever since I was a kid,” explained Napier to Celtics Wire ahead of his debut with the Capitanes on Sunday. “I remember staying after games just to try to get autographs from the big-time players.

“I’m a huge Celtics fan, ever since I was a young boy. Growing up in Boston you get the best of many worlds — Patriots, Bruins, Red Sox, and obviously the Celtics. It’s hard not to be a true Boston fan. I’ve watched them (this season), and know some players on (the team). One of my great friends Noah Vonleh made the team as well.”

“I always have my eyes on them, and I’m happy to see them doing well,” he related.

Napier keeps in touch with fellow champion UConn alumnus and former Celtics point guard Kemba Walker as well, who has been lingering in NBA purgatory while trying to get a buyout sorted with the Detroit Pistons.

“He’s doing well, man,” said Napier. “He’s doing well. I’ve talked to him a lot.”

“(Kemba) and I still communicate heavily,” added the former No. 24 pick of Walker. “I think one of the biggest things for him is obviously everyone knows he can play; it’s just is he going to stay healthy?”

“I think he’s doing a great job of doing that, of putting himself in a position to stay healthy, working out and rehabbing his knee. When he gets a chance to perform, when he was in New York he did a lot of special things and it’s tough to see, but I know he’s in great spirits because that’s who he is. He’s always been a positive person and he’s always going to go out there and give it his best shot.”

“I’m pretty sure you know he’s going to get another shot — and when he does I’m very much expecting him to flourish in that,” he suggested.

As for his own health, it helped lead him to Mexico after BC Zenit Saint Petersburg tried to rush him back to the court with a severe ankle injury got him second-guessing his time with the Russian ball club.

When the invasion of Ukraine eliminated the possibility of EuroLeague play this season, the Roxbury native decided to relocate closer to home within the NBA ecosystem, signing with the Capitanes.

“To be able to come back up to the league and work on my craft … just playing with the Capitanes has put myself in a position to help a team win some games,” offered Napier. “It’s a great opportunity to see what the NBA and the G League is doing with these new teams.”

Polanco — the part of Mexico City G League players stay at in Mexico City — might be quite far from the neighborhood in Boston Napier fell in love with the Celtics from, but basketball is a force that can connect us in strange ways.

As is evidenced by this article, written by a Connecticut Yankee and Boston sports fan calling Mexico City home as well.

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Story originally appeared on Celtics Wire