My Condolences: Saying Goodbye is Never Easy


May 14, 2012; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics shooting guard Ray Allen (20), small forward Paul Pierce (34) and power forward Kevin Garnett (5) react as they take on the Philadelphia 76ers during the fourth quarter in game two of the Eastern Conference semifinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at TD Garden. The Philadelphia 76ers defeated the Boston Celtics 82-81. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Basketball fandom can be a very challenging thing. Being a fan of a team comes with its own rewards, but it also comes with various stresses.

There’s no guarantee that your team will always be good. Upper management might be brainless with a knack for making deals just for the sake of it. You may have ownership that is only interested in making the playoffs or they may barely be interested in hitting the salary cap floor.

There are few things that are actually certain in sports, but one of those things is being a true fan. True fans stick with their teams through thick and thin. The relationship between fans and an organization can be a toxic one, but its one worth experiencing.

One of the reasons why the relationship is so toxic is that when things are going well, things are really going well fans don’t want things to change. However, in life, we know that change is often inevitable. Variables are just that–variables. They are subject to change at any moment because time is a thing that never stops moving.

And because of that, fans are often taken through a gauntlet of emotional highs and lows throughout their lifetime. That is what is happening with Celtics fans right now. And because of that, I send my deepest condolences.

You see, I’m a Washington Wizards fans. I’m a 20 year old writer who has experience quite a lot in my relationship with the Wizards. I’ve survived through Andray Blatche, Gilbert Arenas, Michael Jordan in his down years and Doug Collins as my head coach.

Now, we’re heading into an era in which things are seemingly brighter than they’ve been since the Wizards were Bullets and their jersey’s flaunted the colors of the American flag. Things change through time for better or worse. Things can get better, but there is always a chance that they can get worse.

I’ve been writing about the Celtics here on Hardwood Houdini for the last two years and change. Rajon Rondo has been my favorite player since the 2007-08 championship year and I’ve grown accustom to this team and its nuances.

The Boston Celtics have become apart of me just as the Washington Wizards have always been. No, I’m not a diehard Celtic fan, but there is a large amount of respect for this organization and those who are. That’s why I’m here writing about them now.

So, with that being said, I’ve fallen in love with what the have Celtics stood for over the last few years. The Celtics brass headed by Danny Ainge has always managed to keep the best interest of the team ahead of everything else. This was reflected in the Kendrick Perkins deal, the Glen ‘Big Baby’ Davis deal, and even the deal to swing Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to the Celtics in 2007.

The Celtics were built around togetherness–or Unbuntu. Doc Rivers mantra kept this team on its P’s and Q’s and had them playing as exactly that–a team. As a Wizards fan, I had never really seen such a bond on a team that I followed heavily. For me, that team was one of the best teams that I could ever remember seeing play in person–keep in mind, I’m just 20.

As variable change happened, the players relationships evolved. Ray Allen left for the Miami Heat and there was lots of disdain for Rajon Rondo because of that. Rondo had been at the brunt of many trade rumors and he still is. Why? Because relationships change. People change and sometimes, its just time to move on.

Though he kept this team afloat for the last two seasons and some change, something had to happen to improve this team. We knew that the window was closing on this team, and this year it finally did. Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce will not be Celtics in a matter of days. When thinking about it, it seems surreal.

Everything that they’ve both given this organization cannot be valued or simply traded away. Though goodbyes have to be said, the memories that we’ve been given will never fade away.

Paul Pierce played a majority of his career as a Boston Celtic and truly wanted to retire as one. Though he may wear a uniform that says Brooklyn on the front of it next season, he’ll always be a Celtic. The years that he battled through rough times when the team wasn’t a championship contender. He was the mainstay that made the team competitive–an anchor, of sorts.

Those years and his commitment to the the team will never be forgotten. Pierce could’ve forced his way out of town to go play in a plethora of places–I’m sure that he even wanted to at times. But he stuck through it and came out on top eventually. Now, he’s one of the four greatest Celtics of all time and one of the greatest players in the history of the game.

Kevin Garnett came as the savior for this team. He was the foundation that this team was built on–the cornerstone of the defense. The Celtics took defense to the next level largely because of Tom Thibodeau and Kevin Garnett. Garnett was the piece that changed everything.

The culture of this organization took a complete 180 turn, going back to the days of glory for the Boston Celtics. Garnett and Pierce put themselves in position to become legends in Celtic lore just as Larry Bird, Dennis Johnson, Kevin McHale and so many others had done in decades past.

Now, I know that saying goodbye is hard. This is something that none of us ever wanted to see. These aren’t players who were just Boston Celtics, but they were our Boston Celtics. They were the Celtics that took this team from the edge of the cliff of Clipper-ville and turned them into a winner again. They rekindled the flame that was there when Bird left it.

They made up for what happened the Len Bias and Reggie Lewis. They continued to blaze the path for the Celtics of the future and keep this team in the conversation for being one of the best organizations in professional sports.

My condolences are just a kind gesture to those of you who may need solace. In reality, though, they aren’t needed. What Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Doc Rivers and even Ray Allen did was legendary and will never be forgotten. Their accomplishments are a never-fading light that will always rest in the emblem of the Celtics.

So hold your head high, Celtics fans. Be proud of what you were able to witness. Though it may be hard to watch this era fade away, know that because of it another one will ensue. Know that what this era was will be forever. And at the end of the day, no trade can take that away from you.