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Childhood Friends Bass, Thornton Reunite on Celtics

Brandon Bass and Marcus Thornton have grown from childhood friends to NBA teammates on the Boston Celtics.

Jessica Camerato profile picture
Updated 10 months ago on
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The “remember whens” flowed freely as Brandon Bass and Marcus Thornton exchanged stories during a pickup game this summer. It is not unusual for longtime friends to share laughs over childhood memories. It is rare, though, when anecdotes of middle school ball are parlayed into discussions of playing for the same NBA team.

Bass, 29, and Thornton, 27, got to know each other at Westdale Middle School in Baton Rouge, LA where Thornton was (and still is) best friends with Bass’ younger brother, Chris. Thornton recalled seeing Brandon’s eighth grade team in action and admiring the tall, lanky teenager.

“I used to sit down and watch those guys play before we did,” Thornton recalled to Basketball Insiders. “Just being able to see them play it was great.”

Bass became familiar with Thornton’s game through his sibling, who also played basketball. Thornton had a passion that translated on to the court at an early age.

“I remember him being a young kid that loved playing basketball,” said Bass. “Back then, he was just a young kid eager to learn, eager to play with the older guys. Even as a youngster I remember seeing him, you could tell his talent. He was always able to shoot the ball, always able to score.”

Even though they attended different high schools, they remained close through Thornton’s friendship with Bass’ brother. Their families, who lived 10 minutes away from one another, became close too.

“Over the years I felt like we developed an older brother, mentor-type relationship,” said Bass. “He and my brother are like best friends. I always kind of threw different things at him that I felt could help him. It’s worked out for him, he’s been successful.”

Thornton listened, observed and learned from Bass.

“When we met up we always talked and we always had the same goals,” said Thornton. “He was always a worker. He’d always stay in the gym all day, and me too.”

Both Bass and Thornton went on to play basketball at Louisiana State University. Bass was drafted 33rd overall by the New Orleans Hornets in 2005. Bass left prior to Thornton’s time at LSU, but he visited the team to offer advice. The words resonated when spoken by a pro player.

“When I’m in the locker rooms with the guys, I always try to explain to them how to prioritize when you’re in college,” said Bass. “I tell them you’ve got to put school first, basketball second, and then the girls. If you flip it all the way around, you’ll be at LSU for a couple more years or you won’t be able to live your dreams in the NBA and you’ll be in the neighborhood leagues.”

Thornton joined Bass in the NBA in 2009 when he was drafted 43rd overall by the Miami HEAT. Just as he had done in college, Bass helped Thornton get adjusted to his new life.

“It went to another level,” Thornton said of their friendship.

Their relationship was strengthened even more in July when the Celtics acquired Thornton from the Brooklyn Nets as part of a three-team trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers. They spent time together in the offseason as usual, with Thornton making guest appearances at Bass’ basketball camps to show his support. The difference this summer was they both headed to Boston to start the season.

“It feels like you’re playing with your brother,” said Thornton. “Things aren’t going to go right, you have 82 games a season, everything is not going to go perfect and you can turn to him if you need any advice, any pick me up. You can turn to him and he’ll be right there and that’s a great thing.”

Bass says their reunion on the Celtics has a special meaning to their friends, family, and those in Baton Rouge. They share a sense of pride representing their city as members of the same organization. The two even made it a point to take a photograph together on Media Day.

From childhood friends to NBA teammates, they are living their dreams together.

“We both had the same mission and today we completed it and are playing on the same team,” said Thornton. “It’s great.”

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Jessica Camerato is a bilingual reporter who has been covering the NBA since 2006. She has also covered MLB, NHL and MLS. A graduate of Quinnipiac University, Jessica is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association and the Association for Women in Sports Media.

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