Jordan Walsh jokes about Giannis game ball saga after first NBA bucket originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The Celtics rookie scored his first career NBA points on Sunday night in impressive fashion, soaring for a two-handed dunk in the fourth quarter of Boston's blowout win over the Memphis Grizzlies at TD Garden.
WHAT A WAY TO GET YOUR FIRST NBA BUCKET JORDAN WALSH 💪👏👏 pic.twitter.com/MLjQnN4yYh
— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) February 5, 2024
It's an NBA tradition for players to get the game ball after scoring their first points, but Walsh remembered what happened in a December game between the Milwaukee Bucks and Indiana Pacers, when the Bucks "aggressively" tracked down the game ball for Giannis Antetokounmpo after he scored a career-high 64 points, forcing Indiana rookie Oscar Tshiebwe -- who scored his first NBA point in the game -- to settle for a replacement ball after a bizarre on-court scuffle.
Fortunately for Walsh, he had an unchallenged claim to Sunday's game ball after an otherwise uneventful rout. But apparently he still had to work to get the ball in his possession.
"I almost got it stolen twice," Walsh said after the game, noting that Celtics equipment manager Andy Mannix (jokingly) attempted a heist.
"I had to hawk it down,” Walsh added. “I know everybody knows the Giannis situation where he ran into the locker room. I was kind of like in that (mindset). Luckily, somebody caught it and was looking for me and found it. So I was just running around. He was running around looking for me. Then we found each other and I was like, ‘Is that it?’ And he was like, ‘Yeah this is it,’ and handed it to me."
That may explain why Walsh did his entire postgame interview clutching the game ball like a newborn baby, and still was clutching it tightly in a post on social media later that night.
Walsh has spent the majority of his rookie season in Maine with Boston's G League club and didn't score in his previous two appearances with the Celtics, so the 19-year-old clearly enjoyed breaking the seal with Sunday's slam.
"Oshae (Brissett) was pushing it in transition," Walsh said while describing his first basket. "I’m taught to run to the corner, so I just sprinted out, and nobody was in front of me. So Oshae kicked it ahead, I caught it and I saw a lane to the rim and I was like, ‘This is the time.’ And I just jumped as high as I could and just dunked the ball.
"After that moment, I was like, ‘I’m getting that game ball.’"
Mission accomplished, Jordan.