What Semi Ojeleye Said When He Tore Into Celtics During Rockets Game


Mar 4, 2019

Semi Ojeleye was disgusted by what he saw from the Boston Celtics on Sunday — and who could blame him?

The Celtics lacked effort, energy and execution for the bulk of their 115-104 loss to the Houston Rockets at TD Garden, at one point trailing by 28 points in the second half. Sure, Brad Stevens’ team mounted a spirited comeback attempt in the fourth quarter, but in the end, the Celtics deserved to get booed off their home court.

Early in the third quarter, after Rockets guard Eric Gordon opened the second half by knocking down consecutive wide-open 3-pointers, Ojeleye tore into his teammates during a timeout. It was a rare outburst from one of the more quiet players on Boston’s roster.

“Wake​ the​​ f–k up,” the second-year pro shouted, per The Athletic’s Jay King.

“I don’t normally do that, but I felt like we were kind of splitting apart,” Ojeleye said after the game, via King. “And I think we have to try to change it. I mean, the season’s wasting away. In the NBA teams are only together for so long. So it’s time to change it.”

The Celtics, as they’ve done so often this season, had their heads down when things weren’t going their way. When their heads actually were up, they were busy bickering and arguing with each other.

And while Ojeleye indeed wanted the Celtics to “wake the f–k up’ from their mid-game malaise, he also had a bigger goal in mind.

“Making or missing shots isn’t going to determine our wins or losses,” he said. “It’s really about effort right now. And I was just trying to tell guys to wake up. The look on everybody’s faces was like we already lost the game, and it was the start of the third quarter.

“It’s been tough (for the Celtics lately) because the reason you play basketball is to be a part of a group, a second family, a group of brothers. I think right now we’re struggling to find that in each other. And I think when we do — because we’re definitely capable of it, we’ve shown it at times — I think everything will come together.”

Ojeleye’s attempt to rally the troops clearly had an effect. Boston played with greater purpose for the rest of the game and almost pulled off an improbable comeback. Whether his uncharacteristic blow up has any long-term impact remains to be seen.

Ultimately, however, Sunday night’s performance was yet another ugly installment in a season that’s been difficult to watch.

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Thumbnail photo via Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports Images
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