Boston’s Big 3 run together may be over, but never forgotten
Boston’s Big 3 quest for a second title together ended at the last buzzer when they lost Game 7 to the Miami Heat 101-88 in the Eastern Conference Finals. Not only did their title quest end in an emotional loss, but their run together as teammates and as brothers may have come to an abrupt end that many saw coming.
In the closing minutes of Game 7, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce knew that it was over. They were brought together in the 2007-08 season, where they won their first title against the Los Angeles Lakers and coach Doc Rivers made sure that they headed out in a honorable way.
Rivers called a time out, and one by one he took out perhaps one of the most special group of players that he has ever coached. As each player was called out of the game, the bench, along with the crowd in South Beach gave their due. Rivers, already known to be an emotional coach, took out his hand, thanked them, and gave each of them a hug for maybe the last time as a Celtic.
“But overall, I don’t know if I’ve ever had a group like this”, said Rivers. “I had a group in Orlando that I am fond of, that I talk about, the heart and hustle group. They’re very similar to that group. They did everything I asked them to do. They came up short.’’
Allen, who is known around the league to be a tough guy and to always have that serious, game face expression, even he couldn’t hold back his feelings that he had for this team, for this band of brothers.
For five years, they have walked on the court together no matter what, and this was probably the best way for this team to end the season, as three future Hall of Famers walked off the court together for one last time.
Even though their run as the Big Three, which became to be known as the Big Four, is over, one thing is for sure. They have left their mark in the NBA, and whether they were hated or loved, their success on the court will never be forgotten.
Many people forget the trials and tribulations that this group faced. Even though Allen, Garnett and Pierce made it look easy at times, NBA fans and even players themselves forget how much work it takes to play with not only two other superstars, but two future Hall of Famers.
While the Heat received much hatred and criticism from fans and analysts for trying to form a super trio, when Boston’s Big Three combined forces, people respected their decision to sacrifice their ego, along with being “that guy” in order to win the ultimate goal that they all lacked: Larry O’Brien Trophy.
What is even more amazing is the fact that these three players not only played some of the most unselfish basketball we have seen in the NBA today, but they did all that and won a title in their very first year together. That run on their way to a championship showed NBA fans everywhere something that they haven’t seen from a star packed team in years: Pure will and determination.
Garnett became the anchor on defense for the Celtics, as he demanded nothing but perfection. Pierce showed the world that he could score at will at times, and be that inspirational, vocal leader to lead his team. Allen, who always had that cocky presence, showed that he could not only shoot three’s outside the area code, but play feisty defense that he never showed in his days as a Sonic’s player.
Each individual sacrificed in order to be successful, and exhibited a full display of what team basketball really looks like.
With hard work, they reaped the benefits. The very next year, they went back to the NBA Finals. They have been to three Eastern Conference Finals, including this latest one against the Heat.
When people look back and see what this group did together, people will be quick to assume that since they only won one title together, it was nothing special.
Time and time again, when the Celtics were counted out, they showed the world what they were made of. In times of adversity and obstacles, they just kept on fighting. This group of players were fearless as they just continued to play harder. Although Rajon Rondo was the key to much of their success, do not underestimate the impact that these three extraordinary players had on both the game itself, and on progression of Rondo as a player.
Just take a look at their run to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2012. Even before the season began, Garnett was dealing with a knee injury that lingered him through out the whole season. Pierce also experienced pain as he battled multiple injuries. Allen, was plagued by bone spurs that took that “jump” out of his beautiful jump shots.
The Celtics team in general dealt with injuries from point guard Avery Bradley to Jeff Green to Mickael Pietrus. Despite of all the injuries, not to mention their age as well, somehow the Celtics were able to pull it together and go on an incredible run after 16-17 record midway through the season.
The thing that separates these three group of players was that they never blamed their struggles on anyone or anything. They put it on themselves and took charge to make one last fight. No matter how many injuries pile up on them, no matter how old they were, no matter who they played against, no matter what people said about them and no matter what obstacle was in their way, they fought till the very end.
Even if the Celtics lost in the Eastern Conference Finals to the Heat, that game revealed both the type of players they are, and what type of men they were.
In reality, they took on the challenge of playing THE Heat, who many considered of winning it all, to the brink of elimination.
In truth, they made the Heat look like the old guys in certain moments as they outsmarted them in several games. For a second, the Celtics were soaring through the “impossible” as the Heat struggled. The Celtics played as if they were the ones that had everything to lose, and that was the beauty of it all.
In the end, the Celtics lost by over 15 points, but not once did they give up. Not once did they “quit” and hung up their jersey. Not once were they ashamed of how things went down. They acted like champions, and more importantly they acted like future Hall of Famers.
So yes, is it inevitable that the Big Three played their final game together? Probably so, but in 5 or 10 years, people will not remember the Garnett, Pierce and Allen as losers to the Heat. They won’t even remember them fighting their age and health to play the game they love.
What they will remember though is this: A group of brothers who fought through obstacles together. Three players who sacrificed everything for the better of the team. Individuals who spilled blood, shed tears, laughed and cried for one another.
Allen, Pierce and Garnett will be remembered for getting back up when others would have laid down, having faith in each other when all hope seemed lost, and as people who truly loved the game of basketball.
Starting out individually, these were some of the greatest basketball players to play in the NBA. In the end, these men became something greater and finished by earning the respect of all their peers.
The original Big Three are soon to be history in the very game they grew up playing, but to their peers and fans, they will always be remembered for what they did as a team, and never be forgotten for their contribution to the NBA itself.