Snowball fights, hugs, and Thanksgiving feasts for good-vibe Celtics

Chris Forsberg

BOSTON - Watching teammates pressed up against their windows as the Boston Celtics' charter flight knifed through the flakes and touched down at snow-covered Hanscom Air Force Base on Sunday night, Robert Williams had a feeling what was about to unfold.

"Somebody was going to start a snowball fight," said Williams. "I felt like it was going to happen as soon as we got off the plane. Enes [Kanter] was the first person - he for sure started it."

Indeed, the Celtics capped their brief holiday excursion in the Empire State with an impromptu snow war. Kanter, camera recording, gleefully captured direct hits on Williams, a fleeing Carsen Edwards, an unsuspecting Daniel Theis, and even poor Tacko Fall, who wanted no part of the shenanigans.

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"As soon as we landed, I looked outside and was like, ‘Oh, it's snowing!' What is the first thing you do when it's snowing? You make a snowman or you have a snowball fight," said Kanter, who detailed the snowball fight for Episode 4 of "The Enes Kanter Show" on the NBC Sports Boston podcast network. You can watch the full episode Wednesday morning on YouTube or listen on your favorite podcasting app.

"So, some of the players were waiting for the bags. I made a snowball and threw it at Rob, and then Rob started throwing at somebody else. We started this crazy snow fight."

Amid the childlike glee, some players grabbed their bags and beelined for their vehicles, Kanter and Williams lobbing snow grenades as players skidded across the tarmac.

"The one person who wasn't fighting back was Tacko," said Kanter. "I was like, ‘Tacko, this is not how you play snowball.' I threw him a snowball and he lifted his head and started shaking it and started running away. I told him, 'That's not how you play snowball. You gotta throw it back.'"

Fall, who had been excited last month to see snow for the first time, has already gotten his fair share of the white stuff between Boston and Maine and confirmed he simply wanted to get out of the cold.

Louisiana native Robert Williams, though, soaked up the moment.

"It was fun, man," said Williams. "A lot of us didn't grow up seeing snow. So we did that, then drove around at like 3 miles per hour trying to get home. But it was a fun deal."

Kanter's spliced footage went viral and became the latest exhibit of "Look at how much fun these Celtics are having!" But it was merely the culmination of a good-vibe weekend that started with Bronx-native Kemba Walker opening his doors to teammates and their families for a Thanksgiving night feast.

Walker's mother, Andrea, cooked up a spread that earned rave reviews. Kanter chowed down on the turkey - and endured all the usual jokes about being from Turkey. What dish did Williams like best?

"The jerk chicken, for sure," said Williams. "Kemba's mom made good-ass chicken. I ain't going to lie.

"It was a great experience for Kemba and his family to invite us over. It was great food. Just great vibes, all of us together, spending time with each other off the court."

This seems like a good spot to be clear that not every good-vibe adventure ensures long-term chemistry. We all remember the positive vibes the Celtics were gushing back in March after a long cross-country flight in which Kyrie Irving supposedly brought teammates together by pleading for more interpersonal communication.

Boston opened that trip with a lopsided win over the Golden State Warriors and it was fair to wonder if some of the tension over the team's wayward ways had been righted. They weren't, and Boston found that out when the Bucks won four straight games to bounce them from the second round of the playoffs a month and a half later.

There's been nothing but positive vibes emanating from the Auerbach Center since Boston drafted a group of lighthearted rookies and Irving made his departure official by signing with the rival Nets. The Celtics brought in Walker and Kanter with a goal of both remaining competitive after losing Irving and Al Horford, but also providing a palette cleanser with the way the 2018-19 season left a bad taste in everyone's mouth.

These new-look Celtics have yet to encounter much adversity. Kanter needled Irving at his introductory press conference while announcing he wanted to be the reason no one wears No. 11 again in Boston. Walker blended seamlessly with new teammates Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, and Jayson Tatum during their trip to China for the FIBA World Cup. Boston has won 14 of its first 19 games, even with some injury woes, and players are certain they haven't played their best basketball yet.

We'll see how this team reacts when things really go sideways for the first time but, for now, it's nothing but positive energy. With Kevin Garnett wondering whether Irving had the "cajones" for playing in Boston, Walker and Kanter can't get enough of this group and their new surroundings.

On Monday night, the eternally pleasant Kanter tweeted how he missed his family. Vincent Poirier, a French import patiently waiting for his chance at more NBA minutes, sought out Kanter in the trainer's room on Tuesday morning.

"You wanted a hug, I got you, man," said Poirier, recording as he wrapped his arms around Kanter on the trainer's table. "You're going to be alright."

The two were back at each other's necks in 1-on-1 work a short time later. But that's how it goes. These guys are always ready for competition.

Whether it's on the court or a snowball flight next to the team plane.

"I did good [in the snowball fight]," said Williams. "I think I got Javonte [Green]. I got Carsen, too, I think. I got Enes - but Enes got everybody, though."

Kanter said Theis nailed him in retaliation then fled off in his car. Kanter loved everything about the moment. And it seems safe to say that the fun is, ahem, snowballing around here.

"In the end, I understand we're all NBA players, but we're like big kids," said Kanter. "If you could hear some of the conversations we have in the locker room, you would crack up. It's the funniest. If the fun is not there, then you're not doing your job. In the end, we are entertainers, we entertain people, but we have to have fun, too.

"We see [teammates] more than our families. Going out and having fun with them, that's what it's all about. A snowball fight, going to dinner, movies, making fun of each other. It's always fun."

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Heat, which tips off Wednesday at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Tommy & Mike have the call at 7:30 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

Snowball fights, hugs, and Thanksgiving feasts for good-vibe Celtics originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

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