Celtics fans knew him as, “The Swedish Larry Bird.” Everybody at TD Garden cheered when they heard “Jonas, for three!” from Public Address Announcer Eddie Palladino. Fans saw him grow under Head Coach Brad Stevens, as he worked hard to earn his minutes from start to end. He was always ready for the next chance.
Jonas Jerebko, now a forward for the Utah Jazz, played two-and-a-half seasons with the green. The Kinna, Sweden native was acquired by the Celtics in late February of 2015 from the Detroit Pistons at the NBA trade deadline. Jerebko made sure to talk with Stevens after the Jazz (14-15) came to TD Garden and beat the Celtics (24-7) 107-95.
“Like I’ve told people before, being in Detroit for five years and having all those new coaches kinda sucked, no consistency,” Jerebko told CLNS. “So coming to Boston, going to the playoffs three years in a row, just having Brad and his system, it was great seeing him today. He gave me some encouraging words when I signed in Utah. I had great years here, great memories. They got a great thing going. A great organization.”
At that February trade deadline, the Celtics sent longtime Pistons forward Tayshaun Prince back to Detroit, for Jerebko and forward Luigi Datome. From that point on, Jerebko became an important piece in Stevens’ system.
“Jonas came in the same day as Isaiah and Gigi Datome…I’ve told that story many times…It was quite an eventful day,” said Stevens. “Jonas, his energy that he brought, the way he spaced the floor, he had that great playoff series against Atlanta when he became a starter for us. And then last year I thought was really critical to help us beat Chicago in the first round and then obviously the game in Cleveland we ended up winning. We don’t win without him. It’s good to see him doing well…Obviously I want nothing but the best for him.”
Jerebko played a big part in what the Celtics have recently built, and it started with that playoff series verse Atlanta. He was thrusted into the starting lineup for game three and responded with a double double; 11 points and 12 rebounds to help the Celtics win 111-103. With his length and versatility, he helped space out the floor for scoring guards like Isaiah Thomas, who had 42 points that night, and Avery Bradley. Starting again in game four, he put up 16 points while adding 10 rebounds, helping the Celtics win 104-95.
But it isn’t just the on court moments that Jerebko still thinks about. After tonight’s win, Celtics Vice President of Media Services Jeff Twiss went into the Jazz locker room looking for him. He stuck out his hand to greet the smiling Jerebko, but he declined the handshake by saying, “No.” Instead, he gave Twiss an embracing hug.
“They [the Celtics] treated me like family,” said Jerebko. “Like I said, I had a great time. I appreciate really nice people, especially like Twiss who’s been here for 30-plus years.”
Jonas will forever have great memories playing for the Boston Celtics. The Garden doors will always open for him, and he will stay smiling as he remembers big games, loud chants, and playoff runs.