CHICAGO – Avery Bradley is a soft-spoken family man from Tacoma, Washington, who is as modest as they come.
He doesn’t talk much, particularly about himself.
But Friday night in Chicago, following a series-clinching win over the Bulls, he felt the need to speak his mind.
Bradley just got done locking up three-time NBA All-Star Jimmy Butler – again – as the Celtics closed the door on Chicago’s season. It was the second time in four games that Bradley had helped to force Butler into totaling more turnovers than assists, all while hawking Butler’s every shot attempt on the court.
Butler knows who Bradley is, and he has for some time. Boston’s starting shooting guard is an All-Defensive First Team performer who has been regarded as one of the – if not the – top defensive guard in the NBA for a half-decade. Bradley also just happened to score 16.3 points per game this season while connecting on 39.0 percent of his 3-pointers.
During this series, however, Butler, who truly struggled throughout six games against Bradley’s defense, gave his counterpart no respect.
“You want to know something?” Bradley asked relatively unprompted, following a 105-83 drubbing of Butler and the Bulls, “I took it personally.”
Bradley then explained exactly what ‘it’ was.
“I think Jimmy had said last game, ‘We can’t let guys like Avery Bradley score 20,’ “ a calm and collected Bradley recalled. “I usually don’t say anything, and I just go out there and play hard, but I feel like every player should respect this game and respect the guys that go out there and prepare every single night.”
Bradley is one of those guys.
He wants respect. He deserves respect. He’s earned respect.
He may not have made an All-Star team yet in his career – though he was surely in the conversation this season – but he’s a guy who brings his hard hat to work every single day, he’s a guy who does it the right way, and he’s a guy who impacts every game with his effort and his skill.
“I feel like he should respect that,” Bradley said, “somebody that goes up and gives him respect every single game.”
Yet there Bradley was, in the midst of a playoff series that he was altering with his defense and his offense, being disrespected by the top player on the opposing sideline.
Al Horford summed it up quickly, saying, “I don’t think [Bradley] gets the amount of respect and credit for what he’s been able to do.”
It’s time for that to change, just as it was time Friday night for Bradley’s tenor to change at the podium.
Respect Avery Bradley.
Respect the way he goes about his life. Respect the way he goes about his business. Respect everything he brings to the table each and every night for the Boston Celtics.
If you don’t? Well… good luck.
Butler just learned that lesson first-hand.
“Like I said,” Bradley stated to conclude his uncharacteristic comments, “I definitely won two battles in a row.”