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Boston Celtics big man Tacko Fall is a popular guy these days. Without looking at official numbers, Hall of Fame staffers guessed (with some confidence) his crowd on Monday was comfortably the biggest of a summer that included Boston’s lottery pick this season, Romeo Langford.
As is often the case, the bigger crowd led to some strange autograph requests. One boy asked Fall to sign his iPhone. Another autograph seeker proffered a printed picture of a taco. A young man went through the line and had to double back when he realized Fall had accidentally signed a photo of former Kansas City Kings star Otis Birdsong, instead of the pre-made photos of Fall himself most fans received. A little girl wanted Fall to sign a tiny basketball, which nearly disappeared in Fall’s enormous hands. A young woman handed Fall a customized Celtics jersey with Fall’s name and number (55) on the back, which she said was a gift from her father.
Fall credited his development to having a chance to learn from Hakeem Olajuwon, who helped to mentor Fall during his early days in Texas, and the UCF coaching staff. But additionally, he credited another unlikely source for helping him in basketball. And that was soccer, a sport that he had played frequently while growing up in Senegal.
“What soccer does is it really helps you with your footwork,” Fall said. “That’s the main thing. And as you may have seen, a lot of guys that played soccer before and made the transition to basketball really have a different type of footwork and really can move pretty well. So, I feel like that’s what soccer really helped me with.”
If I lived in the Boston area, I’d probably end up at the Hall of Fame’s 60 days of summer program on a semi-regular basis. They’ve got an eclectic mix of players old and young, and the whole thing seems to be laid back and enjoyable.
Yesterday was Tacko Fall’s turn (it’s a summer of Celtics big men, as Robert Parish, Kendrick Perkins, Glen Davis and Jared Sullinger are all on the calendar), and his appearance did not disappoint.
It was good to hear Fall talk about the importance of footwork—that’s, these days, a generally underappreciated aspect of a big man’s game. If Fall wants to stick with the Celtics, there’s a lot of little things that he’ll need to work on, and footwork is one of them. Fortunately, Tacko seems to have bought into this. At the close of the interview, Tacko said that he’s focusing on “simple stuff” heading into the preseason.
I’m not sure that Fall made the best choice by going to UCF, as his development, at least as an offensive player, seems to have stalled there. In fact, I’d say that his standout performance in summer league may be in large part attributable to a coaching staff that was able to showcase what he can do on offense.
Page 2: Where Grant Williams thinks the Celtics are underrated
“I feel like we’re (an) underestimated, underrated team because we have a lot of veteran guys who may be young,” Williams said on Sirius XM NBA Radio. “You have Enes Kanter who’s probably 28, 27 years old. Kemba Walker. You have guys that have high talent in Jayson (Tatum) and Jaylen (Brown) who have proven themselves over the last couple of years. There’s a lot of talent on this team that I feel is undervalued.”
I’m 100% on board with the notion that last season was an aberration, and I can’t wait for this season to start. Last season was a missed opportunity, and I think everyone on the team knows it. I think the veterans on the squad are motivated as much by the knowledge that they squandered a chance at a title as by the way they’ve been relegated to second-class status in the East.
I don’t think the Celtics are going to start this season off slowly.