By Sean Grande, 98.5 The Sports Hub

BOSTON (CBS) – Sometimes, it’s just too much.

Too much emotion, too much stress, too much last-minute shopping, too many Christmas carols (and God knows, they never choose the versions you want to hear). And of course, too many desserts. Every year, you go in with a plan, and resolve. Every year you end up scooping the middle out of pies when no one’s looking.

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It happens.

Tomorrow night in Washington, the Celtics play their final game against Washington and Paul Pierce. His return to the Garden three weeks ago, not to mention his game-tying three in the rematch the next night, just more snapshots filling the album until No. 34 goes to the rafters.

And then there’s next Friday. When Rajon Rondo returns to Boston, just 15 days removed from the deal that removed him, from the only NBA team he’s ever known.

That’s a lot of emotion, crammed into the holiday season, and school vacation and all of it.

So you can be forgiven if the events of this afternoon slipped your mind. Got lost in the push notifications, and “what kind of year has it been” Facebook montage videos cramming your news feed. Lost in the Pats clinching the top seed, the Sox trading Will Middlebrooks and the Bruins winning three of four.

You can be forgiven if you didn’t notice that Kevin Garnett, today, likely plays his final game in Boston.

But you know what?

He wouldn’t have it any other way.

Kevin Garnett watches as the 2008 World Championship banner is raised during the 2008 NBA World Championship ceremony before a game on October 28, 2008. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Kevin Garnett watches as the 2008 World Championship banner is raised during the 2008 NBA World Championship ceremony before a game on October 28, 2008. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

It was always said Billy Joel’s dream was to play backup in someone else’s band. Instead of being the multi-decade, multi-platinum one man musical hall of fame that he is.

Kevin Garnett, can relate.

It was Paul Pierce’s team when Kevin Garnett arrived.

Doc Rivers was already here, so was Ray Allen for that matter.

Rajon Rondo, off a promising rookie year, was the next big thing.

Eight years later, Paul Pierce remains as beloved a modern-day athlete as Boston has known. Ray Allen’s departure and subsequent returns have invoked a variety of emotions. Doc Rivers was moved to tears in his return last year, we’re all fascinated to see how Rajon Rondo is affected in two weeks, with the trade so fresh.

Indelible images, Pierce and LeBron in Game 7, Rondo’s unforgettable moments and mastery of the big playoff game. The barrages of Ray Allen dagger threes. The Gatorade shower of Doc in the final moments before Banner 17 fully congealed from mission statement, to mission accomplished.

But have no illusions as to why it happened. Have no illusions who the straw was that stirred the ubuntu drink.

As the spring of 2007 was turning into summer, and Danny Ainge hammered away at Kevin McHale, relentless in his pursuit of the player you acquire once in a generation, a funny thing was happening in Boston.

I mean it’s funny now. Not so much then. When the rumors first made the surface, that the pipe dream of Kevin Garnett in Boston, that that smoke may have some fire, the strangest thing happened.

People rejected the idea.

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A long-since forgotten Boston Herald fan poll was running almost 80/20 against the idea of trading Al Jefferson for Garnett. Media was lukewarm at best. A prominent ESPN voice, citing outdated Boston history, questioned the match. And one of the team’s iconic voices threatened to resign his post if such future-mortgaging would come to pass.

Kevin Garnet and Paul Pierce. (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)

Kevin Garnet and Paul Pierce. (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)

You know the rest of the story. I don’t have to type it, you can close your eyes and see it.

Of course No. 34 will go to the rafters. And the Rondo and Ray Allen debates will go on as to if or when they should take their place alongside.

Garnett should have been the MVP in 2008, but forget that. He carried the Celtics through the dicey first two rounds before the Pierce Game 7 against the Cavs, but forget that. Playoff series after playoff series he dominated the Gasol’s, and the Jamison’s and the Rashard Lewis’s, but forget that. He made his long-resisted move to center in 2012, and responded with one of the best almost-36-year-old seasons in NBA history, dominating players 50 pounds heavier and ten years younger but forget that too.

The Celtics were mathematically and emotionally a different team when he was off the floor.

But the best part? The marriage. The crazy-eyed, bar fight ferocity and the love and intense respect for the game he brought to the floor for twelve Minneapolis winters, until he found his civic soul mate. The crazy-eyed, bar fight ferocity, and the love and respect of the game that you get back playing in Boston.

Next time you find yourself questioning your own instinct, and the things you believe? Just remember that a lot of people we’re told are “experts,” thought Kevin Garnett and Boston…would be a bad fit.

I wonder how many of them think that today, when he plays what could be his final game here. I wonder how many will be here next time… when No. 5 goes to the rafters.


The numbers were staggering… in so many different ways. But the Garnett debate is always fascinating, because for all the statistical accomplishments, the intangibles (locker room leader, making the players he played with better) are of course not quantifiable.

But the numbers themselves? Dizzying. This one, on the night he scored his 25,000th points, against the Lakers at the Garden 22 months ago, may have been my favorite…

If you’re making a 12-man team. The best to ever play? Kevin Garnett probably doesn’t make that team. Probably doesn’t. But he has to get a long, hard look at one of the final roster spots. You can make a strong case for him as the best defensive player of the last twenty years. And that’s before you get to the 26,000 points and the 14,000 rebounds and the 5,300 assists. (I mean, that’s top 50 all-time in NBA history in assists…as a 7-foot power forward/center. Only Kareem has more).

But you can run the numbers through every Basketball Reference player finder there is. At the end of the day, wins and losses. Sometimes the numbers, speak for themselves:

1995-2007 | 2007-2013 | 2013-2015

BOSTON: 405-547 (.425) | 314-162 (.660) | 35-73 (.324)

MINNESOTA: 501-451 (.526) | 135-341 (.284) | 45-84 (.349)

Bold indicates Kevin Garnett on the roster.

Which if you think about, is a perfect homonym.

Sean Grande has been calling Boston Celtics games since 2001. Hear his call of the games alongside Cedric Maxwell on 98.5 The Sports Hub starting 30 minutes prior to tipoff! Click here for a list of affiliates on the Celtics Radio Network.

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