It was an emotional night, as the Celtics fans couldn't help but cheer for two players that brought them a championship a few years ago. There were plenty of video tributes that brought nostalgia to everyone in the arena.
The Nets have been hot lately, and the Celtics, if you haven't noticed, aren't very good. Brooklyn left town with the win, although the game itself wasn't the story line. This is a game that has been circled on the calender since the two teams finalized the blockbuster deal during the summer.
It's clear that Celtics fans have nothing but respect and love for Pierce and Garnett. Both were traded this offseason after Danny Ainge decided to bring the franchise into rebuilding mode, and few people blamed Kevin or Paul for leaving town. Remember, KG is one of the few players in the NBA with a no-trade clause in his contract, meaning he could have overruled the deal if he really wanted to stay in Boston. Obviously, he didn't use this leverage.
Boston fans welcoming back Pierce and Garnett makes sense. What doesn't make sense is why Ray Allen will never get a similar reception. Allen left the Celtics for the Miami Heat, and Celtics fans were lukewarm at best when he returned.
Prior to this season, Pierce spent his entire career as a member of the Celtics. He fought through some tough times with the team, but fans tend to forget that he was ready to demand a trade before Ainge acquired superstars to play next to him. While many rush to praise Pierce for sticking it out in Boston, it should be noted that he was seemingly ready to leave for greener pastures.
Another important point that is often forgotten is that the Celtics had already replaced Allen by the time he signed with the Heat. Boston pursued shooting guard Jason Terry and signed him to a deal before Allen even made up his mind. The two players are similar in a lot of ways, and with the emergence of Avery Bradley, it made absolutely no sense for Allen to sign with the Celtics. It's clear that Ainge forced him out the door.
Still, it seems as if Allen is a villain while Pierce and Garnett are praised. This is the same Allen that sacrificed plenty to help bring a championship to Boston, and the same Allen who played through a bad ankle injury during his last playoff run with the team.
Simply because of how long he played for the Celtics, the cheers for Pierce should be a little louder than those for Ray. When comparing how Boston fans treat Garnett and Allen, however, it's hard to see the why there should be much of a difference.
Ray chose to leave Boston in free agency. Garnett was traded but he essentially chose to leave, as he did not exercise his no-trade clause. Is there really that much of a difference?
It was nice to see Celtics fans thank Garnett and Pierce on Sunday night. They both deserve it. Still, it's extremely hypocritical that they won't do the same for Ray Allen. Hopefully time fixes this, but I won't hold my breath.
Mark lives in the Boston area and has been covering New England sports for various blogs over the past 4 years. He has been featured on Fox Sports Yardbarker, Fox Sports, and Sports Illustrated "Hot Clicks", and has been published on Celtics 24/7, Bleacher Report, and Sports-Kings.
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- Sports & Recreation
- Kevin Garnett
- Ray Allen
- Paul Pierce