BOSTON — The Celtics knew there would be an outpouring of emotion at the TD Garden last night, as a pair of legends beloved by the Boston fanbase returned for the first time to the parquet where they won an NBA title.
But the sheer intensity of the love that filled the Garden for icons Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett was enough to leave the players still wearing Celtic Green in a state of awe.
“The fans really embraced those guys,” said rookie Celtics guard Phil Pressey. You see the standing ovation and it’s really amazing. Then I look into the crowd and there is a woman holding a Pierce jersey and crying. She was sobbing! You could really see what those two meant to the organization.”
Last night clearly belonged to Pierce and Garnett, who were making their first trip to Boston since being traded to the Brooklyn Nets as part of Boston’s rebuilding effort following last season.
But while the fans were clearly on the side of the two Celtic legends, the current Boston Celtics could not be.
Through the multiple standing ovations, the moving video tributes to the two future Hall of Famers and yes, as least two fans in the stands outwardly crying, the current Green Team could not become caught up in the hype.
The Celtics had to remember that The Truth and KG were the enemy, and that they had a game to play against them last night.
“I owe so much to those two,” said veteran Celtics swingman Jeff Green, who spent three seasons as a teammate of the two. “I had to pay my respects because they taught me a lot about how to approach the game. Without them who knows where my career would be after everything that happened.
“But they were the opponent, and this was still a game that we were out there to win. We wanted to win this, but we couldn’t get it done.”