Celtics’ Jonas Jerebko Hopes To Raise Basketball’s Profile In Native Sweden

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BOSTON — As a native of Sweden, Jonas Jerebko knows the nation he hails from isn’t exactly a basketball hotbed.

“I’d say it’s, like, the fifth or sixth biggest sport,” the Boston Celtics forward said before Sunday’s matchup with the Golden State Warriors at TD Garden. “We’ve got skiing and hockey and soccer and handball and floorball — all of that in front of us. Some of the sports, you guys probably don’t even know about.”

(He’s right about that last part. We had to look up floorball, which looks a lot like something you’d play in high school gym class.)

“You don’t see no Swedish media over here, so that probably tells it all,” the forward continued. “It’s a shame, but I’m trying to — you know, we’ve got (Swedish-born Charlotte Hornets wing) Jeff Taylor, who we just played against. He’s playing in the NBA, too. So we’ve got two players now in the NBA, and hopefully we can help getting people to recognize the great sport that basketball is.”

Jerebko might be able to do just that if he keeps playing the way he has recently. Jerebko, who joined the Celtics at last week’s trade deadline, dropped 20 points on the New York Knicks in 21 minutes Wednesday, then recorded a double-double (16 points, 10 rebounds) Friday in a win over Taylor and the Hornets.

Jerebko is optimistic about the future of Swedish basketball. While he wasn’t ready to say his homeland could compete on an Olympic level just yet, he did mention Sweden’s respectable showing at last summer’s European Championships, where it scored a win over Russia.

“But it starts with the people being interested in a sport,” Jerebko said. “And we’ve got more and more young players coming up, but we still need more, and more interest in the sport.”

Thumbnail photo via Mark L. Baer/USA TODAY Sports Images

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