Last year, Shane Larkin spent a whole season playing in Europe. Now he’s back – but for one game only.

It’s been a little over six months since Larkin swapped Baskonia for Boston, but he’s crossed the pond this week for the NBA’s annual London visit as the Celtics get ready to face the Philadelphia 76ers at the O2 Arena on Thursday.

Larkin’s goal is do give all he can for the Celtics this season, but he hasn’t forgotten what the time in the Euroleague did for his career.

“Baskonia was a great experience for me,” he recalled.

“I went overseas so I could play a lot and get better as a basketball player, and it did wonders for me.”

“Basketball in Spain and basketball in Europe in general is more of a team game and going over there helped me grow as a player.”

Larkin added, “I’ve played in a lot of different places, for a lot of different coaches and a lot of different styles, and [Baskonia] added another level to my game.”

“I’m extremely grateful for that opportunity and that whole experience.”

Larkin averaged a team-high 13.1 points for a Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz side which reached the Euroleague play-offs last season, and feels the experience and exposure helped get him back on the NBA radar.

“Oh definitely,” he said.

“I don’t think I was too far off it as I was only over there one season, but there are a lot of NBA scouts who watch Euroleague and they even televise some of the games now on cable in the States.

“It’s a great platform to go out there, play a game and be looked at, so I took advantage and went out there and played my game and glad I could land up here [with Boston].”

Had the Celtics not come calling, Larkin was strongly considering playing another season in Spain, but in the end the lure of playing for the Celtics was too great.

“I was actually about to sign another contract, with Barcelona in the Euroleague,” he revealed.

“But as I was about to do that, Boston called me and said, ‘we liked what you did last year in Europe, we’ve liked you for years and would you like to be on our team.’

“I was like, ‘yeah, let’s do it!’”

Now he’s a Celtics player, Larkin is enjoying being on a ‘winning culture’ and playing for a club with a lot of history.

“I’ve been on a lot of teams in the league and we haven’t had the best seasons,” he said.

“I’m in a winning environment and on a great team, a historic franchise and playing for a great coach.”

Larkin added, “They make you feel accountable for everything and I feel I’ve got much better since I’ve been here and I’m continuing to grow.”

One of the things that the American guard likes about this team is the way they’ve dealt with any adversity that has come their way.

From the opening night loss of Gordon Hayward to injury, to the hectic schedule in the first half of the season, Larkin has enjoyed the way the team has played for each other.

Especially when it comes to not giving up, even when down big in a game.

“I think there’s been a lot of games this year where we’ve shown grit this year,” said Larkin.

“The Houston game sticks out, at home we were down 26 and came all the way back to win at the buzzer.

“We were down 18 against Charlotte earlier in the year, 15 down early to Golden State at home and came back to win them.

“We’ve had a lot of games where we’ve fought back and shown our character.”


Photo: Brock Williams-Smith/NBAE via Getty Images

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