Jonas Jerebko is having a difficult season with the Celtics. He suffered a gruesome nose injury in January, had inconsistent playing time and now his team is dealing with the tragic loss of Isaiah Thomas‘ sister. The 30-year-old Swedish forward talked with HoopsHype about all that, his upcoming free agency, the Stockholm terrorist attack, his eSports team and more.
When did you learn about the death of Isaiah Thomas’ sister?
Jonas Jerebko: We found out at practice. It hurts, it hurts. He’s a teammate, he’s a friend, he’s a brother. It hurts. We’re feeling for him. Unless you’ve been through something like that, you can’t put yourself in his shoes. We’re brothers. It’s very tough.
Was it his decision to play or did he talk to you guys about it?
JJ: That’s all up to him. It’s all about how he feels. There’s no right or wrong in a situation like that. We’re just trying to support him as much as we can. He’s got to do what’s best for him and his family. He’s in our thoughts and prayers.
Did you hear what Charles Barkley said last night about Thomas?
JJ: No, I don’t listen to what Charles Barkley says. What did he say?
I’ll play it for you.
JJ: Well, that’s Charles Barkley’s personal opinion, and he’s on TV. He can say whatever he wants. Like I said, it’s up to Isaiah [to play or not], how he feels and his family. Our team and our organization support him 100 percent either way he goes. We spend a lot of time together and our team is a family, so we’re just trying to support him as much as we can, and we definitely don’t listen to what Charles Barkley has to say.
Back in March, Thomas said that the Celtics weren’t getting enough respect even though you were No. 1 in the East.
JJ: We won a lot of games, and we have some injuries. We have a deep team and we believe in ourselves. We don’t really listen to what the media or other people say. We ended up winning the East, and it was well deserved, I don’t care what people say. We didn’t start the playoffs as we wanted but there’s a new game tomorrow and we’ll be ready.
Jimmy Butler played a great fourth quarter, but Bobby Portis surprised everyone with 19 points off the bench.
JJ: They played well and made some open shots. But I really think we can play a lot better. We let them rebound way too easy. They had a good game and we had a bad game. We’ll watch some video today and hopefully, we’ll come back stronger.
You’ve had kind of a rough season, especially since the day James Harden broke your nose. Have you watched the play?
JJ: I watched it one time. It wasn’t a big deal to me. I know James wouldn’t do that on purpose, so there was no reason for me to watch it over and over again. It was an unfortunate situation and that’s about it.
And you didn’t like the mask.
JJ: The mask was really uncomfortable. I couldn’t really breathe good, I couldn’t see good… They told me to wear that thing for like six weeks and after 10 days or so I just couldn’t do it no more. I took it out and played without it.
You’re having surgery after the season is over, right?
JJ: Yeah, I’m going to have surgery to clear my airways. Nothing for the looks [laughs], just for fixing it after breaking my nose.
So you won’t ask for a Leonardo DiCaprio’s nose.
JJ: [Laughs] No, no, nothing for the looks, just to make sure I can breathe. After the surgery, I just have to wait for about two weeks before resuming practice so I’ll do it as soon as the season is over.
Stats-wise, this hasn’t been your best season.
JJ: I’ve always been a team player. Yes, it hasn’t been my best year stats-wise, but we’ve been winning a lot of games. I’ve been helping the team out. Obviously, it’s tough when you don’t get consistent playing time, but I’ve been trying to do the best in this situation. We’ve won the East, and we’re all part of it. I’m not super happy about my stats, but right now we’re in the playoffs, we’re the No. 1 team in the East. I’m just thinking about Chicago.
How do you feel about becoming a free agent at the end of the season?
JJ: I’m just excited to be a Boston Celtic right now, finishing first in the East, and being in the playoffs. Being a free agent is always interesting. I love my time in Boston and I’m not closing any doors. I’m just excited for the summer and see what happens. I’m taking it day by day now with the playoffs, trying not to think about what’s going to happen in the summer. I’m getting in the gym early and staying ready for when my number is called.
Your name was written under the ‘Hybrid Free Agency’ category on the now-famous Orlando Magic board. Did you see it?
JJ: My uncle and my dad follow that stuff and they sent it to me. To be honest, I’ve played in the NBA for a while and I’m pretty sure all the teams have those boards. Yes, my name was there but I’m hoping my name is on a few other lists too.
How was your experience playing in Detroit?
JJ: A great organization, great teammates, and with great fans. It was an unfortunate situation with all the coaches I had. I think I had like five coaches. Switching coaches, teammates, playing style every year… It’s good to be here in Boston, winning games.
I wanted to ask you about the Stockholm terrorist attack on April 7.
JJ: I heard it like everybody else, in the news. It’s unfortunate everything that’s going on right now. I just called all my friends, made sure everybody was good. After that, you start thinking about it. If something like that happens in a country like Sweden, it can happen anywhere. It’s scary, but at the same time we can’t panic, we just have to live on with our lives. It’s horrible, I don’t know what to say. We have to stick together.
You were kind of angry when you saw a fake expert on Fox News talking about the tragedy.
JJ: Yeah. Obviously, I read the Swedish news and no one in Sweden had any idea who this guy was. And for millions of Americans, he was a Swedish expert. I thought it was hilarious that the media can put anybody on TV and just let the normal people think he’s an expert, even when the Swedish government had no idea who this guy was. A sad and comical situation at the same time.
It’s been less than a year since you acquired your own eSports team, the Renegades. When did you start playing videogames?
JJ: I’ve been playing videogames my whole life. Playing basketball you travel a lot, you have a lot of free time, so I’ve always been playing Xbox, PS3 with my teammates. I’ve played everything from NBA 2K, to FIFA, to NHL, to Call Of Duty, to Counter Strike… You name it, I’ve played it. I enjoy the competition.
And does your team play a lot of games?
JJ: We have a Counter Strike team, an Overwatch team, a Call Of Duty team…
How do you manage the Renegades?
JJ: When I play basketball I just focus on basketball, so I just got people hired to take care of the Renegades. But the players have my number, they can call me if they have a question. The plan is to build one of the best teams in the world. We’ve done a pretty good job in just one year, building the brand. The future is bright for eSports and the Renegades team is a big part of it. I’m excited for what’s next.