Bass was on the phone with a good friend named Larry Sheppard during one of their breaks between three-a-day workouts and AAU tournaments when he realized their lives boiled down to three simple things.
"During the week, I would work out, and on the weekend I would go play in tournaments," Bass said in the locker room at the Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday, shortly before the Celtics' morning shootaround. "So I was praying, working on my game and then when we were in tournaments, I was getting ranked higher. To me, it equaled success, me praying and working hard, so that's how I came up with 'God, Grind, Greatness.'"
For Sheppard, "greatness" on the basketball court ended at Texas Pan-American, where he started 33 games at guard for the Broncs in his junior and senior seasons from 2005-07. Under the moniker "Lil Sheppard," he is now a local rapper in Baton Rouge.
But Bass became a second-round draft pick of the New Orleans Hornets in 2005 and achieved something close to greatness on Monday, when he outscored the entire Philadelphia 76ers team in the third quarter of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals with 18 points. The world learned of the saying when a sheepish Bass, who had never before been called to the podium for a postgame interview, revealed his motto to the assembled media.
The slogan was well-known in Bass' extended network of friends and family long before that. His younger brother, Chris, who recently finished his senior season playing at LSU, quickly tweeted with the hashtag "#godgrindgreatness" when he saw his brother being interviewed on TV. Those three words have also become an unofficial motto on Facebook and Twitter for Bass' younger cousins.
"If you look for it, you'll find it," Bass said.
Two years ago, while playing in Orlando, Bass decided to give the slogan a tangible tribute beyond social media. Before leaving his seat in the locker room to take the court Wednesday, he extended his left arm and rolled up the sleeve of his T-shirt to unveil the script lettering tattooed on the inside of his left biceps: God, Grind, Greatness.
The motto that helped Bass get to where he is today has an official place, quite literally, close to his heart.
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