Top TD Garden sports moments

Paul Pierce

There was once a strong train of thought in this city that TD Garden, or The FleetCenter as it was known for a decade, would never be the old Boston Garden.

This was backed up by the fact that the new building would put up a noise meter on the JumboTron during play that had levels of “can’t hear you, loud, super loud and GARDEN level.” Even the blindly loyal fans knew this practice was a crock.

The new Garden would never get as loud as the old Garden … or so we thought. With the Celtics and Bruins both playing third and fourth fiddle to the Red Sox and Patriots from, say 1995-2008, it wasn’t exactly the fans fault that the new Garden paled in comparison to the old barn. There was little to cheer about at the time.

But in the past few years, things changed dramatically. The Celtics won. The Bruins won. One of the greatest NCAA tournament games in history took place in the new building. The TD Garden had its identity.

With the East Regional taking place here this weekend, a look back at the top moments in the history of the new building.
The Comeback
Largely forgotten thanks to the 2008 NBA title, the Celtics staged the greatest fourth quarter comeback in NBA playoff history on May 25, 2002 against the New Jersey Nets in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

The duo of Antoine Walker and Paul Pierce combined for 51 points in the 94-90 win as the Celtics erased a 26-point deficit.
The blowout
The Celtics destroyed the arch-rival Lakers, 131-92 in Game 6 of the NBA Finals on June 17, 2008. The win gave the Celtics franchise an NBA record 17 titles. Chants of “Beat L.A.” and “Seven-teen” rained down on the parquet floor throughout the night. Paul Pierce was named Finals MVP but Rajon Rondo was the star in Game 6 as he had 21 points and six steals.
Villanova stuns Pitt
It will go down as one of the greatest NCAA tournament games of all-time. Neither Pitt nor Villanova held a lead of five points or greater in the second half but the Panthers built a 67-63 advantage with less than three minutes to play. Tied 76-76, Villanova guard Scottie Reynolds had his shining moment as he hit a contested runner in the lane with .5 seconds remaining and sent the Wildcats to the Final Four.

The B’s house
The old Boston Garden was always the Bruins’ building first and foremost, but it took a while for TD Garden to house some truly memorable black-and-gold moments. That all changed forever in the past 12 months, but even in the lean years of the FleetCenter, the Bruins had their days.

Banner moment

Without question, the raising of the 2011 Stanley Cup championship banner on Oct. 6, 2011 is the singular Bruins moment of the past 16 years in the new building. But the Garden also hosted some of the most stirring moments of the Cup run, including Game 7 victories over Montreal and Tampa Bay to reach the Finals, then the emotional Game 3 victory over the Canucks after the scary injury to Nathan Horton. Even in Game 7 in Vancouver, the Garden played a pivotal role, as Horton poured Garden water onto the opposing ice for good luck.

Honoring the past
During the first decade in the new building, the only highlights for the Bruins were honoring the accomplishments that occurred in the old Garden. In 2001, the Bruins retired Ray Borque’s No. 77, after the Bruins legend won his only Stanley Cup with Colorado. Three years later, it was Borque’s teammate Cam Neely, who helped lead the Bruins to Stanley Cup Finals appearances in 1988 and ’90, who had his No. 8 raised to the roof. Neely would finally get his Bruins championship as team president in 2011.

Classic Game 6
The Bruins only won one playoff series between 1996-08, and this first-round, seven-game battle with Montreal wasn’t one of them. But in a wild Game 6 victory, with the Bruins overcoming a one-goal deficit three separate times and scoring four third-period goals to force Game 7 after trailing the series 3-1, the Bruins officially announced their re-emergence as a postseason player, culminating with the Cup three years later.

Honorable mention: WrestleManiaXIV (1998), Celtics-Sixers Game 5 (2002), Celtics-Cavaliers Game 7 (2008), Celtics-Bulls Game 5 (2009), Celtics-Lakers Game 4 (2010).


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