With Garnett and Pierce headed to the Brooklyn Nets as the Celtics begin an extensive rebuild, the time for reflection is now. All the wins. All the hard-fought battles. All the emotions. The one championship. Everything.
Pierce spent 15 years in Boston; Garnett spent six. Whether they be in Brooklyn or Beantown, they bleed Celtics green. Boston is where each of them won their one and only championship. It’s where they helped advance an already strong connection between players and the fanbase.
It’s where they became symbol for all that is right with the NBA.
Their departures don’t change that. Any of it. The time had just come to part ways. Boston was beginning a new chapter in its development, and Pierce and Garnett don’t have that kind of time. So the Celtics thanked them by sending both to a contender like the Nets.
Then they thanked them again.
In the classiest of moves, the Celtics took out a full-page ad in The Boston Globe (h/t Baxter Holmes)
The ad features Garnett and Pierce each hoisting trophies into the air, fresh after winning a championship in 2008.
“Thank you for your heart,” the ad reads. “For your passion. For your sacrifice. For playing through the pain. For bleeding green. For honoring tradition. For an amazing ride. For restoring Celtic pride.”
“For banner 17.”
I hail from New York and this even sends a tremor down the back of my spine. It’s both harrowing and beautiful.
Beautiful because of how true those words are. Basketball is just a sport, yet at the same time, so much more. Fans and players alike invest so much emotionally into it that it transforms into something else, into whatever else you want it to be. Whatever you need it to be.
For some it’s an escape. Or a form of entertainment. Or a way of life. Our an outlet of hope. People place their faith in teams and endure through losing just like the players do. And when they win, they celebrate just like the players do.
Pierce and Garnett helped further that concept in Boston. Few teams boast the kind of connection with their fanbase the Celtics do, especially these Celtics. The fans are loyal to the players, to Pierce, to Garnett, and they to them. It’s simply beautiful.
But it’s also chilling, the ad I mean. It serves as a reminder that Pierce and Garnett are actually leaving. That this era is actually over. That the Celtics are indeed headed in a different direction.
That they’re really gone.
Never will they be completely gone, though. Garnett spent a majority of his career with the Minnesota Timberwolves, and now he and Pierce will look to win a title in Brooklyn. Even if they find what they’re seeking, they’ll still be Celtics. Their uniforms will change; their loyalties will not.
Green will continue run through their veins and into their hearts.
Forever, and ever.
Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.