Even with the potential rewards in view, the 2023 NBA offseason has tugged at the heartstrings of Boston Celtics fans. The NBA is a business, and nobody can explain that better than the people of Boston at this moment in time.
First, it was the soul of the team. Then, out of the blue, one of the most beloved figures in the organization was shipped to the other side of the country. No Robert Williams III at Celtics media day just did not seem right.
Just hours before the Jrue Holiday trade was finalized, Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston reported that Williams III was “gushing” about the campaign ahead with the Cs. That only makes the pill even that much more difficult to swallow. When healthy, he was one of the most entertaining players to watch in green.
Like Marcus Smart, the bond between the two Boston Celtics stars and No. 44 was impossible to ignore. This man loved Boston, and the entire city felt the same way. Sometimes there was frustration due to constant injuries, but at the end of the day “Time Lord” was never looked at in a negative way. His off-the-court issues gave him the nickname that is still a part of who he is today. That nickname, despite the backlash expected by Boston fans, is going to be passed on to the next team he may suit up for.
In the summer of 2018, the organization snatched up the Texas A&M big man with the No. 27 pick in the first round. The enforcer on the defensive end slide in the draft, mostly due to reports about his “inconsistent effort”, and the fact that he did not participate in the Pre-Draft Combine.
It took a whole lot of work, but with a phenomenal attitude, Williams III made himself a well-known shot-blocker across the association in green and white. Despite his late arrivals at times to meetings and flights, the man’s energy was infectious. The TD Garden crowd felt that. His ability to roll to the rim, grab the ball at its peak, and throw it threw the basket was something special.
Even with one of the best starting lineups in the league, it is going to be a tall task to replace a player who has averaged over 1.5 blocks in his career. Kristaps Porzingis may be forced to play on the interior more often than he would have liked if the Texas A&M product was still here. Even if Bard Stevens brings in more reinforcements, playing small is going to be the identity of this ball club.
Health issues aside, Robert Williams III left the Boston Celtics after five seasons defined by continuous growth on and off the floor
Similar to footballers who develop through the academy ranks in Europe, No. 44 feels like one of Boston’s sons. The entire city and fanbase watched Williams III develop from a somewhat immature youngster into a grown man with two kids.
Williams departs the northeast as not the only former No. 44 that will forever adored in the organization. He enters a list that includes Danny Ainge, and NBC Sports Boston’s Brian Scalabrine.
Few would have believed anyone if they had said his career in this uniform would have turned out the way it did. Besides the guidance of the coaching staff and Al Horford, Williams III established himself as a starter in the NBA. Of course, his defensive attributes, jumping abilities, and his two kids will be sorely missed within the confines of the Garden.
What this fanbase is going to miss most of all is the satisfaction of seeing that massive draft project turn into an NBA champion. Late first-round draft picks are difficult to hit on. The Louisiana native broke that narrative, the only issue is that the majority of the benefits may be reaped by another team.
Thank you, Time Lord.