BOSTON (CBS) -- COVID-19 was an unavoidable topic at Celtics media day on Monday. It was at the forefront when it was revealed that new head coach Ime Udoka was not present as he finishes up his 10-day isolation following his breakthrough case.
Udoka, who was vaccinated, will be back for the start of training camp on Tuesday. But he spent his first media day as Celtics head coach chatting with reporters via Zoom.
"I'm feeling normal, as normal as I can I guess. I have been asymptomatic for the most part, other than a slight headache 10 days ago that I would have brushed off had I not been informed I was a close contact with a positive case," Udoka said Monday. "I'm looking forward to starting tomorrow. I think it will be a seamless transition; I was around the guys a lot this summer."
"He was vaccinated so it hasn't hit him like it's hit others that we read about all over the country," Celtics president of basketball ops. Brad Stevens said of Udoka. "As far as missing time, he's good at connecting with people. He does it over FaceTime, text, many different ways. He was working at 2 a.m. from Tokyo helping us with free agents. Even when he isn't here, he's working and very invested. I'm just very glad that his health is OK."
Vaccination was the other topic of conversation, as Stevens also touched returning big man Enes Kanter telling Rolling Stone that Boston has "multiple" players who have yet to receive even a first dose of the vaccine as of last Thursday.
"Our hope is that we get as close to 100 percent vaccinated as soon as possible," said Stevens. "That's our hope and our desire. We'll work on our end with what we can do and from an educational standpoint with our organization. But everyone has to make that decision for themselves."
"Guys have been informed and educated pretty vigorously on the vaccination benefits, and then it's a decision guys have to make on their own. We'd like to be 100 percent, or as close as possible," Udoka echoed. "But guys have to make decisions on their own."
Boston guard Marcus Smart, who was the first player to test positive for the virus in 2020, said that he is vaccinated on Monday. But he understands players who choose not to get the shots.
"It's tough being told what you can and can't do with your own body. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I chose to get vaccinated because I didn't want to deal with the B.S. around it," said Smart. "That was my decision, and I stand with anyone who makes their own decision based on what is best for themselves. Certain situations, like how hard the league is going to make it for players who aren't vaccinated, I got it because I didn't want to deal with the B.S. and I didn't want to be unavailable."
Celtics star Jayson Tatum, who was sidelined with COVID last season and had to use an inhaler after his bout, confirmed that he is vaccinated. But he isn't going to criticize those who are not.
"It's your own decision and I fully understand the concerns of those who aren't vaccinated or don't want to be, and I understand those -- like myself -- who did. It's your own health and no one should be judged one way or another based on their decision," said Tatum.
"I think it's a personal decision and have my own thoughts about it, but I respect my teammates' decision," Jaylen Brown said on the vaccination. "I know everyone has an opinion on it, but it's a personal choice."
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