Before tonight’s game the team’s routine will likely be predictable; some stretching, a few jump shots. But for Celtics fans across the nation, one thought sits as heavy as the Boston Garden’s parquet floor; this may be the end of an era. This game may be the last for Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, two of the greatest players to ever don Celtics uniforms.
Through their storied careers each has experienced his fair share of ups and downs. Pierce served as the star year after year on short-handed Celtics teams while Garnett, 1,500 miles away in Minnesota, did the same for the Timberwolves. That was until a massive trade in the summer of 2007 united them, as well as future hall-of-famer Ray Allen, in Celtic green.
Tom Roberts, a lifelong Celtics fan currently on the waiting list for season tickets, feels the pressure of tonight’s matchup. “I bleed green,” he says with a laugh. “I watched every game in 2006; the season they went 24-58. Then the trade happened, and the next year I was at a Celtics championship parade.” He pauses. “Garnett changed everything.”
Ray Allen split over the offseason, heading for the warm shores of South Beach as the newest member of the word-champion Miami Heat. But Pierce and Garnett, despite much speculation, remained together in Boston. Although Allen’s departure broke the hearts of many Celtics fans, it brought Pierce and Garnett closer than ever. Rather than taking the easy way out, splitting up and joining other championship contenders, they remained loyal to each other and to the city of Boston.
Tonight, as they take the court to play the New York Knicks down 3-1 in the series, the possibility that this is the last time we will see these two legends together on the court is very real. Pierce has publicly stated that he does not plan on playing without Garnett and, after a season plagued with injuries, many speculate that this will be Garnett’s final year.
They are a dying breed in today’s NBA: tenacious, old-school players with a sense of loyalty and pride that transcends wins and losses. Years from now, Celtics fans will tell their children about “The Truth” and “KG.” They will tell of Pierce’s clutch, game winning shots. Children will sit wide-eyed, listening to tales of Garnett banging his head on the hoops stanchion, talking to himself and cursing wildly as he pounded his chest. Two more legends in the storied history of the Boston Celtics.
Tonight at Madison Square Garden, Garnett will pound his chest. Pierce will warm up, shooting jumpers and dribbling through mock-defenders. And when the opening whistle sounds, they will stand together, fighting for their basketball lives and a chance at a game 6 in Boston.
If New York proves to be too much for the weathered warriors, they may find themselves, like the captains of a sinking ship, standing together on the hardwood, submerging side by side into the murky depths of Boston folklore and basketball history.
Sitting in my home in Fall River on Monday afternoon, news of the Boston Marathon bombing came in the form of a phone call from my sister, who just so happened to be in Boston. It felt like my stomach grew arms and got a strangle hold of my heart. I couldn’t believe something so shocking could happen so close to home.
In the ensuing days I found myself locked into all things “Boston Bombing,” learning all that I could about the tragedy that took place just a short drive from my home.
Like countless others, I did not get much sleep this past Thursday night. Instead I sat up, wide awake in my college sweatshirt and baggy sweatpants, captivated by the events in Watertown.
I stared at the news reports on my television, listened intently to the police scanner app on my iPhone and, maybe worst of all, constantly refreshed my Twitter feed.
As news became available through all of these sources, my heart raced and my eyes darted to and from each new “breaking news” headline.
Around 2:30 a.m. it all came to a breathtaking head. My scanner app had gone down for a moment, and as I grappled with my iPhone, red battery line and all, three new tweets appeared on my Macbook. Suspect number two had been identified as Sunil Tripathi, missing Brown student.
I trusted the sources that were feeding me the shocking development and hopped aboard, further spreading the mind-blowing facts like fire in a dry field. Except that they were not facts. They were rumors.
The social media sinkhole pulled me into its cavernous corners and held me there. I was deep in the Twitter tunnel when, at 6:30 a.m., NBC reporter Pete Williams began providing accurate details of the suspects as foreign born Chechens, possibly trained overseas. I shook his words off. He’d just climbed aboard this nightlong mobile manhunt. I’d been up for hours. Tripathi was born in Pennsylvania. What was this guy talking about?
And then the facts began pouring in. Not the Twitter facts. The real facts. The suspects were not missing Brown students gone mad.
They were Chechen natives. And one of them; the one who escaped the violent gun battle and was on the lam; the one who was to be considered armed and extremely dangerous; the one who turned a major metropolitan city into a ghost town — didn’t go to Brown, a school 20 minutes from my home.
He went to UMass Dartmouth. My school. The school I was scheduled to attend in two hours. The same school whose name was emblazoned across the chest of my sweatshirt.
I’d shared a campus with Dzakhar Tsarnaev. We had more than likely passed in the hallways on our way to class. I may have brushed shoulders with him in the school cafeteria.
The events that kept me awake were closer to home than I ever imagined. I walked side by side with an alleged terrorist; a madman; an accused mass murderer. And I never knew. I had spent my night wired to the digital world as the real story unfolded right beside me, in the real world.