When the Boston Celtics planned the Good Sports TD Garden Invitational, inviting 14 of the area's top Division I boys' basketball programs to play a marathon of games at the house Larry Bird built, they could never have imagined it would have ended like this.
In the final minute of the event's seventh and final game, Newton (Mass.) North High coach Paul Connolly inserted team manager Brendan Durkin into his first hoops game.
“This was my first time doing this," Durkin, who has Down syndrome, told ESPN Boston (h/t USA TODAY). "I’ve never been on the court before. I’ve been managing for about seven years now, and this feels really nice. I haven’t played much really. Playing tonight, here at the Celtics, this was really a lot of fun. Playing for my first coach, coach Connolly, he’s so supportive of me. He looks up to me, my team looks up to me.”
To top it off, on his second attempt, Durkin drained a buzzer-beating runner in the lane just as time expired on a 81-49 Tigers victory against archrival Newton South.
“He’s on cloud nine," Connolly told ESPN Boston. "His family -- his mom and dad are pretty proud right now. My kids all embrace him -- did you see how fast those guys raced down to the press room when they found out he was speaking after the game?”
Durkin rewarded his teammates again, rapping during his postgame press conference.
Durkin also issued a challenge to the Tigers. The Eastern Mass. finals are always held at the TD Garden, and the manager urged his team play their way back to Boston.
“It was awesome,” Tommy Mobley -- Newton North's other star on the night with 35 points -- told ESPN Boston. “Brendan comes to practice every day and suits up with with us. He’s got a practice jersey just like the rest of us. It says ‘play hard’ on the back. He’s one of the guys. He gets some shots up sometimes in practice, and today he had the opportunity and he seized it.”
Sounds like the Celtics invited the right teams to their first Good Sports tournament.
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