To the team I never wanted to love, but did | Red's Army - The Voice of Boston Celtics Fans
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To the team I never wanted to love, but did

John - Red's Army (@RedsArmy_John) June 12, 2012 Celtics News, Look Back 19 Comments on To the team I never wanted to love, but did

The Big 3

I’ve tried to write this piece, probably, 20 times by now.  I don’t know how to start it.  I don’t know how to properly capture what this team is or was. 

What I do know is… when it was over, I loved these guys.  And I never really intended to.

Here’s the season in a nutshell:

  • It was dead. Then it wasn’t.
  • Jeff Green was fine.  Then he wasn’t.
  • Kevin Garnett was old, slow and done.  Then he wasn’t.
  • Chris Wilcox was fine.  Then he wasn’t.
  • Rajon Rondo was an inconsistent malcontent.  Then he wasn’t.
  • Paul Pierce and Ray Allen were traded.  Then they weren’t.
  • The Celtics were terrible.  Then they weren’t.

We fought so much over things like blowing the team up.  We fought over rest vs. seeding.  We fought over Rajon Rondo. 

Oh boy did we fight over Rajon Rondo. 

And I hated every second of it.  It made this season a grind… and the post-lockout schedule didn’t help.  I was prepared to let this season dwindle away, accept that a second-round loss to Miami or Chicago, and move forward with the dismantling  of the team.

But then something happened.  You can say “they came through when it mattered.”  You can say “they finally started trying.”  I honestly don’t care what you say.  What matters is what came after “then”.

Something happened.

They played their asses off.  They became that “blue collar” Celtics team that we’ve always loved.   Kevin Garnett was rejuvenated.  Rajon Rondo was sublime.  Ray Allen found his shot.  Paul Pierce fought like hell.  They played like champions.  They played well over their heads.  They punched 2008 into the DeLorean, hit 88 miles per hour, and captured part of what they used to be.

And maybe that’s why I love this team as much as I do.

Because beyond the fighting, they gave us one more glimpse into what was.  It felt like that last night with the girl you knew would leave in the morning.   The one last dance.  The one last hurrah.  These Celtics didn’t drift quietly into the sunset.  They went out with one last fight that perfectly typified what they’ve been all along here.  Talented but ornery.  Combative but driven.  Individually great but greater as a whole. 

In 2012, the Big 3 and the Boston Celtics, injured and over-matched, charged the AmericanAirlines Arena.  They fought like warrior poets; they fought like Celtics.

In Braveheart, the line I just paraphrased ends with “and won their freedom.”  The Hollywood ending to that line would be “and won a championship.”

I’ll just settle for “and won our hearts,” and say thank you to the team I never wanted to love, but did.

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  • FranCs5

    Great. Don’t know what else to say.. For me this season felt like “Boston is a brotherhood” because of the fight through the critics… Now let’s see what the future has in store for us. Thanks, Celtics.

  • Well said. This team was really, really lovable.

  • Carlos

    Beautiful. The part about the girl is on point. It was that last gasp that you hope never to exhale. Heart in mouth I haven’t felt prouder of being a Celtic fan and I’ve been one since ’81.

  • kricky

    Awesome piece. Thanks john for summing up all of our feeling in just a few words .

  • Loved this piece. I’m from the UK and have always played and watched soccer. However last year i gave basketball a go and fell in love with it. I fell in love with the superstars, the hard knocks, the narrative of a team encapsulating a city and i vowed to myself that i would just enjoy each game as it came. That i wouldn’t follow a team so that i could stay objective and just enjoy this sport i had come to appreciate beyond all others. However this season, this post season to be more precise i just couldn’t help but find myself getting behind the Celtics. Their never say die attitude, their last chance for glory with their current components, and of course Rondo. Game 7, forth quarter upset me, and then it hit me… i’ve fallen head over heels for the Celtics, they are now my team. Now i know the majority of people who read this will think that i can never relate with the Celtics and therefor will never be a true fan and to some extent i guess they will be correct. I have never been to Boston, in truth i probably never will, but that goes to show more than anything what the Celtics achieved this year. They won hearts and minds, no matter where those hearts and minds reside.

    • Welcome to the team, Martin. And come to Boston. You’ll like it.

      • Thanks Matt, really would love to go someday to take in a game and the city itself.

        • TNCeltic

          MartinB, same here. I started watching the Celtics a few years ago because my son did, and it gave us something to do together. That was 2010. Absolutely enamored now. Read “Red’s Army” daily during the season. My son got to go to Boston on a school trip this spring and saw lots of wonderful sites, but the one he HAD to send to me right away? His cell-phone shot of TD Garden. We’re hooked. You don’t have to live in Boston to be a fan.

      • Josh D

        B-town is the greatest city in the world I haven’t been there in more than a year now and I hate that.

    • Wil Reyes

      You know that sports movie. The team that gave their heart out. The team that never stopped grinding until they won it all.

      In the end they never won that Championship. But before you knew it they were a part of you. How bad you wanted them to win, not for the fans sake, but for team’s, player’s, and all the hard work they put into it. All the tears, sweat and blood they gave.

      They never won that championship. But they easily won your heart.

      🙂 i wish they would be celebrated. Awarded somehow. Just to be remembered.


  • Francoj3

    I love our Celtics, I am proud of this team…  I hate to lose and I really hate thinking about the eminent good-byes.  For 5 years I have watched the Big 3 turn into the Big 4 with Rondo and recently realized they are in all actuality the Big 5 because Doc’s brilliance  cannot go without recognition.  And that makes Game 7 hurt…  A lot.  I think more than 2010’s loss to the Lakers. I don’t know if it’s because the wound is still fresh or (and probably the more likely) because it’s The Heat but it’s been eating at me since the final buzzer sounded and I am pretty certain I have seen all the stages of grief as I’ve internally gone through Denial & Isolation (It’s taken me this long to even speak about it and I am still on an ESPN blackout) and I have definitely felt the anger…  Though it may have been rage at times questioning as I’ve questioned why Brandon Bass was covering LeBron?  Seriously!  Because he can’t cover him on the perimeter for one and for 2 he was in foul trouble in the 2nd half.  As well as, The Celtics leading after playing 24 minutes 5 against 8.  I thought for certain we had been touched by the hand of the almighty.  But I entertain the thought that the heat were hand picked by the devil himself…  David Mephistopheles Stern. 
    I had a quick phase of Bargaining and said I will go back to church  if OKC can take Miami (and I mean this) and then found myself sinking into a Depression  because this is by far my favorite Celtics team that does not include The Hick from Frenchlick and it breaks my heart that some of the names and numbers will change in Boston next but the familiar faces will return in new colors.  And that may indeed be the reason this one hurts so much but i have come to the final step and accepted it because it was an amazing season. It didn’t start with much hope but before it was done all doubts turned to faith.  That doesn’t happen every year and that’s what made this team different.  The more they were doubted the more they fought, the more they fought the more they won and the better the post game and half time sound bites were.  It’s just a shame we didn’t have a full season to watch them.  Would it have been better, would a full season have been harder on our aging Celtics?  Will it be too much next season?  I’m not David Aldridge asking these questions to # 9 about next year, but if I were I’m sure Rondo would look me dead in the eye and say it again, “Look at us…  We’ll be fine.”…  And that I believe.
    Thanks Green

  • Rob

    If only there was an Oscar for post season write ups …….

    Great piece Red!

    I agree with each and every word in this piece. The Celtics did find ‘that something’ at just about the right time, probably around the same time every basketball fan (included most celtics themselves) had written off the old, tired, injured celtics!

    You can link ‘that something’ to another piece written today by Red….Doc.

    Behind KG banging his head on the pads and staring in the face of Lebron, Behind Rondo’s unhuman like performances, Behind Pierce sinking game changing 3’s and playing like a 22year old, Behind ray ray playing through the pain and behind the bench jumping on teams like a pack of starving wolves, is one consistant …. Doc!

    With Doc at the helm, Ainge having some $$ to play with (whether that be this summer or 2013…..(another discussion!)) and with Rondo as a new franchise player to rebuild a new team around the Celtics have some exciting years ahead!!!

  • Thank you !!! Since 2007-2008 you all made turned the Shawmut/Fleet center back into the BOSTON GARDEN ! I hope you guys come back as Celtics but even if you have another uniform on you will still be a Celtic for life! Celtic Pride!!!

  • screaming jay

    Exactly how I feel.


  • PapaIrish

    This was a 300 team, they were undermanned and overmatched, but way too proud to go down with out a fight. They had too much grit and balls to take the easy way out and run for the hills. They knew what the likely end was, but everyone in that locker said F#@# it, we’re going out on our terms, and they turned this season into a barfight.

  • Tanstaafl

    I gotta say it and you gotta hear it – they play the game the way it was meant to be played.

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  • thirstyboots18

    You nailed it. Except that I have always loved the Celtics. It was the NBA, the Players Assoc.and the lockout that nearly drove me away. The Celtics sucked me back in….

  • GarnettsGrl

    What’s not to love about this team…..They are the most humble team in the NBA, with all the individual talent on that team it would be very easy for egos to take over but they don’t allow for that in the Garden there’s no I in TEAM!!!!!! We were so close a few more peices should put us over the hump……….looking forward to 2012-2013 season!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!