Although this year brought many memorable moments in Boston sports as the city dealt with tragedy (the Boston Marathon bombings) and celebrated the triumph of the Red Sox capturing the World Series, we are reminded that the Celtics were the lone team in the four major professional sports leagues to not play in a championship game. They have given us some exciting moments, but Celtics fans also waved goodbye to Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett, and Paul Pierce.
Here are the top five moments in 2013 for the Celtics:
5. Celtics lose to New York Knicks in Eastern Conference quarterfinals in six games:
Nobody knew this would be one of Paul Pierce’s final shots in a Boston Celtics uniform.
The Celtics fell 88-80 to the Knicks in Game 6 of the first round of the NBA playoffs. This team was playing without point guard Rajon Rondo. Even though the team went on a run after Rondo tore his right ACL in January, the Celtics clearly displayed their flaws against Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks. The Celtics nearly forced Game 7. They fell behind by over 20 points in Game 6 at TD Garden before they cut the deficit down to two possessions late in the game. The Knicks hung on to survive and move on to the next round. This game proved to be the final game for Rivers, Garnett, and Pierce. It was not the ending that any Celtics fan hoped for when the Big Three formed in 2007. All good things must come to an end.
4. Celtics honor victims of the Boston Marathon bombings in Toronto:
The Celtics were supposed to square off against the Indiana Pacers at TD Garden on April 16, but the game was cancelled as the city mourned the tragic events that transpired at the Boston Marathon. Instead, the Celtics wrapped up their 2012-’13 season in Toronto on April 17th. Toronto held a pregame ceremony with both the Celtics and Raptors players and coaches meeting at halfcourt for a moment of silence.
3. Celtics Hire Brad Stevens:
Danny Ainge (left) was all smiles after the Boston Celtics gave Brad Stevens (right) a six-year contract.
Most media members were expecting the Celtics to replace Rivers with a young coach since the team was rebuilding. The prevailing rumor was the Celtics would promote Jay Larranaga, who is the son of the University of Miami (FL) head coach Jim Larranaga. Jay Larranaga was coaching the Celtics’ Summer League team and Rivers was reportedly trying to lure Larranaga onto his staff with the Los Angeles Clippers. On July 3rd, Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge shocked everyone when he tabbed Butler’s lead man, Stevens. Stevens had previously rejected several top-flight college programs to remain at Butler University. The hiring of Stevens brought both optimism and pessimism. People recognized the success that he had at a mid-major program like Butler and other people looked at his age (37 years old) as well as lack of experience on the professional level.
2. Celtics send Rivers to the Clippers for 2015 unprotected first-round pick:
Doc Rivers joined the Los Angeles Clippers after a lengthy negotiation for his trade.
On May 3rd, Rivers said after the Celtics’ defeat to the Knicks that he would need time to think about coming back to the Celtics. Over the next month and a half, Ainge commented that he believed Rivers would be back. Then there were reports that the Celtics were shopping Rivers and Garnett to the Clippers for a package that included center DeAndre Jordan and point guard Eric Bledsoe. NBA Commissioner David Stern stepped in and said that teams cannot make a transaction that involved both a head coach and a player. Instead, the Celtics managed to receive a first-round choice and Rivers was granted his wish to coach a contender for the NBA title. While Rivers’ exit was unceremonious, this did not have an effect on the relationship between Rivers and the Celtics’ fans. When Rivers returned to Boston on December 11th, the Celtics’ faithful gave him a standing ovation. The organization compiled photos of Rivers’ days with the Celtics on the JumboTron. Rivers was forced to wipe away tears and expressed his love for Boston in his postgame press conference.
1. Celtics trade Garnett, Pierce, and Jason Terry to Brooklyn Nets for Keith Bogans, Kris Humphries, Gerald Wallace, MarShon Brooks, Kris Joseph, and three-first round draft picks (2014, 2016, and 2017).
Paul Pierce (left), Kevin Garnett (middle), and Jason Terry (right) show off their Brooklyn Nets jerseys.
The Celtics were able to clear money from their salary cap and the Nets believed they were closer to a championship at the NBA Draft on June 27th. The trade was not made official until the NBA moratorium period ended on July 12th. Both teams can swap first-round picks in 2017. This showed that the Celtics were clearly in rebuilding mode. Pierce was a Celtic for all fifteen years of his career up until this past summer. Garnett spent six memorable years with the Celtics. Both players helped the Celtics capture the organization’s 17th title. They nearly won another championship in 2010 when they lost in seven games to the Los Angeles Lakers. This trade was already seen as a steal for the future because the Celtics received three first-round picks. The Nets are currently a team in disarray with a 10-20 record while the Celtics are in a better position than what most people thought they would be early in the 2013-’14 season. The Celtics are competing with the Raptors atop the Atlantic Division while the Nets are at the bottom.