Boston is a place known for tradition, and one of the favorites for Celtics fans is "Gino Time." For the past 20-plus years, whenever the Celtics are blowing out an opponent, the game-ops department will play a video package from the old show American Bandstand during a stoppage of play late in the game. The star of the show is a dancing man wearing a t-shirt that says "GINO" across the front. When the Celtics crowd sees Gino, they know the game is in hand.
After Friday night, they may have to change it to "Tacko Time." The 7-foot-5 rookie Tacko Fall has been a fan favorite ever since he debuted with the Celtics' Summer League team, but aside from some cameos in the preseason, his time on the court with the Celtics has been limited to a few-minute stint against the New York Knicks back in October. He's spent much of the season either in Maine with the Red Claws in the G League, or inactive.
That all changed on Friday night. Due to some injuries, he was with the Celtics and on the active roster for their matchup with the Detroit Pistons. Thanks to big nights from their young wing duo Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, who combined for 52 points, the Celtics were in full control by the end of the third quarter. As Boston continued to cruise to the win, the fans started chanting for Tacko. Over and over they roared his name, demanding Celtics coach Brad Stevens to put him in.
Finally, with just over four minutes left, they got their wish. Stevens relented, and with a grin on his face, waved Fall into the game.
It took him a few minutes to get into the flow of the game, but when he did, he flashed some nice moments. He said absolutely not to Sekou Doumbouya, blocking the Pistons rookie while barely leaving his feet. Down on the other end, he used a series of fakes to create space for a nice jump hook over Thon Maker. A few minutes later, he got loose for an emphatic slam to close the show.
He finished with five points, two rebounds and a block in four-plus minutes, giving him a career high in his Boston debut. While there is something almost uncomfortable with the fact that everyone basically treats him as a meme, it's touching to see how much he enjoys the support from the fans and his teammates.
Fall's lack of foot speed is going to make it difficult for him to ever play meaningful minutes in the league, but he's already becoming a legend in Boston.