By Sean Grande, 98.5 The Sports Hub

BOSTON (CBS) — Listen, no one said this was going to be easy. And no one said it was going to be quick.

In fact, no one actually promised fireworks, but that’s a part of the narrative so we’ll pretend they did.

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All of us wanted one year of losing, tank-talk and fighting-the-good-fight and then get instantly downloaded back into the NBA mainstream, instantly back in the Finals.

It doesn’t work that way.

Last March, I was doing a college game for CBS when I ran into my friend David Aldridge, the TNT/NBATV reporter-columnist-voice of reason extraordinaire. We exchanged enthusiastic greetings, catch-up chat, Celtics talk. At the end, smile on his face, he said “see you, soon.”

To which, as had become my custom last year with all my friends from the ABC/ESPN/TNT part of the NBA in which the Celtics had been dead center for the previous six seasons, I replied with an even bigger smile, “No, you won’t.”

Because that’s how it works in the NBA. The haves, and the have-nots. Or in this year’s East, the Cavs and the Cav-nots.

The draft lottery that so many people spent so much time obsessing about last year (looking at you Mike and Tony) came and went. The Celtics as it turns out, didn’t win enough games. Cleveland won 33 and that was the magic number; they grabbed the top pick and with it, trumped the Celtics (and everyone else) in the Kevin Love EBay auction.

As a result a summer in which Danny knocked the draft out of the park (and he’s now done that far more in his twelve Celtics drafts than the two he hit for the Blue Jays in 1979. Both at the Kingdome in Seattle, by the way, go figure.), a summer in which the Celtics added a former No. 2 pick in the draft, and a summer in which Kelly Olynyk, Jared Sullinger and yes, Brad Stevens got even closer to their primes, seemed to go wholly unappreciated.

Probably because everyone forgets that while the express may get there faster, the local eventually gets there as well.

See, the experts think the Celtics won’t come near the playoffs. That doesn’t matter tonight.

They think the Celtics will be one of the very worst teams in the league. That doesn’t matter tonight.

Talk shows have the Celtics trading Rajon Rondo every day. that doesn’t matter tonight.

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Not on Opening Night, not on the one night a year that anything truly is possible. (Welcome home, KG).

Starting tonight, 82 slabs of clean slate. That means an awful lot of things we don’t know. But an awful lot we do.

We don’t know when the Jeff Green 42-point night is coming. But we know it will. We don’t know when Jared Sullinger’s 20/20 is coming, but we know it will. We don’t know what night Marcus Thornton will come off the bench and start making it rain with threes, but we know he will. And we don’t know who will be the first victim of Marcus Smart’s outrageous rookie IQ on the defensive end, but we know there will be many.

And we don’t know exactly which night it will happen. Which night Rajon Rondo will remind us, and himself, and the league, that he is one of those guys. One of NBA’s elite as his postion. Elite at any position. (Remember this guy?)

Rajon Rondo’s made a career of proving people wrong, or doing things they said he couldn’t do. So for all the talk that he no longer fits in a restart environment like this — doesn’t that make him the perfect leader? The perfect captain? The brace on his knee may be gone, but the chip on his shoulder isn’t.

And when Rondo is of the mind to challenge his critics, make sure you pull up a chair. You don’t want to miss it.

So no, we won’t see much of my friends this year: David Aldridge, Mike Breen, Marc Stien, Doris Burke, Adrian Wojnarowski and the rest of the NBA media glitterati that you see on Thursdays and Sundays. Ernie and Kenny and Chuck may not be watching your Celtics. Bill and Jalen may not be talking your Celtics (well, you know one of them will find a way).

But all that’s OK. You’re here. Max and I are here. And when we see them all again, we’ll have a heck of a story to tell them about how much fun was had on the ride back.

Opening Night is here. And it as it turns out, no, this wasn’t the team for Love.

But it’s one I have a hunch… you’re really going to like.

Sean Grande has been calling Boston Celtics games since 2001. Hear his call of Wednesday night’s Celtics opener on 98.5 The Sports Hub starting at 7pm!

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