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Celtics' Evan Turner never at a loss for words

AP Images/Elise Amendola

BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics were sleepwalking through a mid-March visit from the Orlando Magic last season, and coach Brad Stevens was furious, unloading on his team at halftime.

As Celtics guard Evan Turner later noted, "I've never heard Brad really curse, and he cursed us out pretty good."

Turner went on to score 24 of his game-high 30 points in the second half to fuel Boston's come-from-behind victory, but to hammer home just how upset Stevens was at the intermission, Turner passed along one other nugget: Stevens had canceled the catering order for the team's postgame flight to Indiana.

There are few things more fascinating to Celtics fans than the notion of "Mad Brad." Tweets were sent and quickly retweeted. Stevens was en route to the team charter when his phone rang.

"His wife [Tracy] called him," Turner recalls now, chuckling at the commotion his little food fib caused. "[Brad] was like, 'What in the hell?' I was joking around [about canceling the food]. It's cool. I like to lighten the mood. It's just all about fun times."

Evan Turner is fun personified. Once defined only by his lofty draft position, Turner has embraced a role in Boston of versatile complementary player who sometimes happens to compare himself to Michael Jordan or Jesus Christ, depending on the situation.

Shaquille O'Neal often described himself as "very quotatious," and Turner would fit under that same umbrella. The 27-year-old swingman likes to mix unvarnished opinions with occasional exaggerations and rarely disappoints when the microphones and cameras are fixed upon him.

Turner knows that reporters are hanging on his every word now and understands that what he says will end up in the headlines. He's embraced this vocal role and tries to keep things light. As professional gambler and NBA savant Haralabos Voulgaris opined, "Evan Turner might have the best sense of humor of any player in the NBA."

So whether he's spouting New Year's resolutions to extend his 27-year streak of never being arrested or suggesting that he thought Stevens ought to be drug tested when Turner was told he would primarily be used in a reserve role this season, Turner has been a consistent source of entertainment.

"I think that's my whole thing. Like, if you ask my friends, it's pretty standard. I just say how I feel and I think one thing is I don't say the norm, I guess, of how you should respond," said Turner. "I kinda say how I feel and sometimes I speak as I'm thinking."

But in an age when players tend to be tight-lipped and rarely opinionated, Turner is an outlier.

"I guess so. I think about it every time I say something and it ends up everywhere," Turner said. "So I guess now I'm starting to see it is unique among athletes. It's all how people take it in good humor. I did the same thing in Philly and they would be like, 'This kid is just immature and blah blah blah.' It's all about who you are talking to and how people take it.

"Last year I had a quote where I said, they booed me in Philly and we won and I said, 'Hey, Jesus was hated too.' It's more like a humble thing than an arrogance thing, and they tried to flip it that way as opposed to saying that a person who never lied or never sinned was hated. Me, I'm living my dream and stuff like that. I make mistakes, day in and day out, so if I get booed, I can't complain because the best dude who ever lived was hated too. You know what I'm saying? So it's all about who takes it and who hears it and also sees that I live my life, I don't try to take myself too seriously, you know?"

Evan living better now, Coogi sweater now

Whenever the Celtics roll into Brooklyn, Turner always seems to elevate his game -- on and off the court. After posting his second career triple-double in a win over the Nets last March, Turner arrived for his postgame media session wearing a gold grill over his bottom teeth. He explained he had gotten it over the summer during a family vacation in which Turner and his brothers always do something crazy -- mohawks, henna tattoos, gold grills -- to get their grandmother riled up, and it worked.

"She said, 'Oh my God. Oh Lordy, they're going to kill me,'" said Turner.

Making a spot start in place of injured Avery Bradley this past Monday night, Turner posted his first double-double of the season during Boston's 103-94 triumph. This time Turner arrived for his media chores wearing a throwback Coogi sweater.

"That was only right, bro. That was Biggie in Brooklyn in a Coogi sweater. Did you see my outfit? I was freshness," said Turner. "And, at the same time, it's timeless and I'm fresh, and that's what people take away from me. If you think about it, I'm really doing it -- for real, for real. I be fresh as s---, when it comes down to it. Like a Coogi sweater is crazy!"

Turner has also busted out items like $850 Depuis 1924 blue-tint sunglasses for a postgame chat, but his primary sartorial selection of choice lately has been the T-shirts he's hawking that feature a photo of him as "The Logo."

During a pregame interview with Comcast SportsNet New England, the Celtics' TV partner, Turner was asked in November what he'd change if he were the NBA commissioner. He deadpanned that he'd make himself the logo.

A Reddit user ran with the idea and posted a picture of Turner celebrating a 3-pointer -- hilarious, in and of itself, because Turner is a career 30.2 percent 3-point shooter and is at 16.7 percent for the 2015-16 season. Turner approved the logo and launched an online store selling six different versions of the shirts, which also sport #ET4PRESIDENT on the reverse side. Teammate Amir Johnson immediately requested an order and has been spotted wearing a "limited edition" green-and-gold shirt before games.

"I told him, 'I need to be rocking one of those,' and supporting my teammate," said Johnson, who loves the way Turner carries himself in a locker room full of younger, quieter players. "You want every player to be [himself]. That's who he is. He's a hell of a guy. And that's why I like him."

Turner jokes that the Celtics' support staff loved the shirts, but teammates other than Johnson were slow to come around.

"I just gave it to staff members who are classy enough to at least act like they appreciate it. NBA players don't," Turner joked. "But [teammates] said they want some, so I guess I'll get a few more for them to build the camaraderie."

The Evan Turner Experience

Turner's path to this point is well-documented. The 2010 AP College Player of the Year while at Ohio State, Turner was the No. 2 pick of the Philadelphia 76ers. He helped Philly to a couple of playoff appearances, but he never quite lived up to his draft status. In 2014, he was traded to Indiana and had a forgettable late-season stint with the Pacers.

The Celtics signed Turner to a modest two-year, $6.7 million contract in the summer of 2014. During a season full of roster change, Turner might have been Boston's MVP, doing a little bit of everything (especially serving as a primarily ball handler after Rajon Rondo was traded) and helped Boston surge to a surprise playoff berth.

Turner is one of the only players on the Celtics' roster who can get to the basket off the dribble. Yes, his methods of getting there can be harrowing, filled with haphazard behind-the-back dribbles and herky-jerky motions, but it works. Search "Evan Turner Experience" on Vine and you'll see plenty of "No! No! No! No! YES!" moments in which he twists and contorts his way to the hoop for seemingly impossible layups.

For the 2015-16 season, Turner is averaging 9.9 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 3.9 assists over 27.2 minutes per game. Stevens often leans heavy on Turner, particularly when there have been injuries to Boston's backcourt. The Celtics' advanced numbers reflect positively on Turner, particularly the team's defensive numbers when he's on the floor: Boston's defensive rating is a mere 95.9 with Turner, the second best number among regulars behind only Marcus Smart.

What's more, Turner -- not afraid of the big moment -- is one of the few guys the Celtics can lean on in crunch-time situations.

"One thing about Evan, and we've talked about it, is he likes those [big] games," said Stevens. "He likes those moments. He likes being a part of them, making plays in them. ... He's kind of that reliable guy in that regard, when things aren't going your way all the time, he really loves basketball and he usually does good things to give you a chance."

And he always looks like he's having fun during those situations. Because he is.

Booed in his hometown

There are some things that Turner wishes he didn't say -- or at least explained better. Like when he suggested Kyle Korver "couldn't guard to save his life" while expressing frustration at officials who he felt ignored some overly aggressive coverage during a game last season.

Turner, born in Chicago, is more careful about what he says these days, but only so that his words don't get twisted.

"I think one thing, when I was younger I would say things that had the opportunity to be altered," Turner said. "When we played versus the Bulls [in the playoffs] my second year, they were the No. 1 in the East and we were the eighth seed. The Heat were No. 2, but they could have arguably been the best team or whatever. And that's who I wanted to play and I just said, 'I'd rather play the Bulls,' for the simple fact of the matter that [the Heat are] a better team to us because we didn't have the power to match up with Chris Bosh. That got blown up and I got booed in Chicago.

"Other than that, I live by what I say. You know what I'm saying? When you look at me, everybody knows that I have my opinions and as much as I joke, I have a serious side, too, where I'm going to say whatever I want to say in front of tons of people."

Four years since those Chicago boo-birds, Turner is excited to be playing one of Boston's handful of national TV games this season on Thursday night in Chicago. He'll have a horde of friends and family at the United Center, including some of the people who shaped his personality and made him the player -- and talker -- he is today.

"I think my dad is relatively funny. My older brother, Darius, is really really funny and I have a pretty fun group of friends," Turner said. "My brother, I think he's funnier than me. He's always joked around like that. It's just the crowd I have and the one I hang around in."

That crowd has turned him into one of the most fun players in the NBA.