A little more than a week ago I made a prediction on the outcome of the Knicks Celtics series. This prediction was made not by an objective sportswriter as I should be but rather by a life-long Celtics fan hoping to see one more miraculous moment in what could very well be the end of an era. Unfortunately, that miraculous moment would not come in the form of a first round playoff victory over my least favorite basketball team, the New York Knicks. However, to say that the series was not miraculous in its own way would be an insult to Celtics and basketball fans alike. Battling from three down to force a decisive game six in which they made a 20-point run to keep the game in reach is truly a miraculous accomplishment especially when considering the circumstances in which this series was played. Beginning back in January, the Celtics saw season ending injuries take both Rajon Rondo and Jared Sullinger. One had worked himself into the starting rotation, utilizing his offensive rebounding prowess to give optimism to how deep the Celtics could be this year, the other was Rajon Rondo, enough said. A few weeks later, the Celtics saw another one of their “spark plugs,” Leandro Barbosa, go down for the season as well. All the depth that the front office had found in the off-season had deteriorated in what seemed like a microsecond. Celtics fans across the globe hung their heads. Were we really going to rely on our very seasoned veterans, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to lead us into the playoffs? These two would go on to show us that old did not in any way mean finished. The 2013 Celtics will forever remain one of the most memorable teams in history. Fueled by critics, this team could be characterized with one word, resilience.
Through 21 years as a Celtics fan I have a lot of memories, great, terrible and every emotion in between. I remember when the TD Banknorth Garden was just the FleetCenter. I remember when the fate of the Celtics rested on the shoulders of Antoine Walker and Paul Pierce. I remember holding my breath during the summer prior to the 2000 season as SportsCenter gave coverage on the Paul Pierce stabbing at a Boston nightclub. I even remember the joy, thinking that the Vin Baker and Gary Payton acquisitions could revitalize my squad. Obviously, I was wrong. Yet through all the misery I felt as a young Celtics fan, it was all erased in the summer of 2007. I sat in my camp mess hall as the rumors began circulating. Eventually, “KG and Ray Allen to Boston!” was shouted over the loudspeaker confirming everyone’s greatest hopes. The new “big three” era had begun. Over the next five years I got to witness everything a basketball fan could hope for; two trips to the NBA finals, an NBA finals victory, and historic NBA and Celtic records broken, all made for an incredible time.
Yet, just as the era of Rick Pitino was ushered out to make way for the “big three” era, so too must the Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce era be ushered out. With the opportunity to buy-out Paul Pierce’s $15 million contract for $5 million and the close relationship the two veterans have, I think I have seen the two for the last time in Irish Green. So, all that remains, is my gratitude. Thank you Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce for everything you have done for Celtic nation and the city of Boston. It was an incredible run and I look forward to the day when your numbers hang in the rafters.