Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett soak in the Boston love

Paul Pierce Kevin Garnett
Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett returned to TD Garden Sunday night for the first time since being traded from the Celtics. Credit: Getty Images

Paul Pierce arrived at TD Garden a couple hours before game time as he’s done for the last 15 years of his life.

But Sunday was much different.

After sleeping in a downtown Boston hotel Saturday night, Pierce took a team bus to this game and walked in through the back way. Then he took a left – into the visitor’s locker room.

For the first time in his NBA career, Pierce was on the visiting team at the Garden.

But you’d be hard-pressed to find an “opposing” player who got more love than Pierce did from the Boston crowd Sunday night.

“It was tough; it was tough for me to swallow,” Pierce said of the emotional night. “I was probably about five seconds from shedding [tears], five seconds I’ll admit to it. No words that can really describe the shower of love here.”

Of course, Pierce wasn’t alone. Kevin Garnett also made his return to the Garden for the first time as a visitor since being traded to the Celtics from the Timberwolves before the 2007-08 season.

He too felt the love from the moment he stepped on the court for pregame shoot-around.

Then came the player introductions – where both Pierce and Garnett received long standing ovations.

Later in the first quarter during a time out, Garnett got his video tribute packed with the highlights of his last six seasons on the C’s. With a towel draped over his head, KG watched part of the tribute and saluted the fans who stood and applauded.

“It was just an emotional moment that I just kind of went back and reflected on myself,” Garnett said. “When we all got together a lot of people didn’t think that the first year we could do what we did and I think before everyone started getting together making their teams, stacking their teams, I think we were the first to initiate that. We had a lot of pressure on us. As I sat back and watched the video, I thought a lot about the fun, how much work was invested in that.”

Then came Pierce’s tribute. Fifteen seasons worth of highlights makes for quite a tribute, and that’s exactly what it was. Played to the song “Coming Home” by P. Diddy ft. Skylar Grey, Pierce watched in awe and with a smile from ear-to-ear, all while trying to fight back the tears (successfully). He made sure to tell the fans he loved them during the emotional moment.

“Just all the great moments,” Pierce said when asked about his video tribute. “From on the court to on the court, just all the great moments that’s all you can think of. That’s pretty much what the videos showed, just everything, just me being in the community, the difference I was able to make not only on the court but in the community … I have relationships with organizations in the community that I built, been able to change different lives, being and inspiration in this community and a lot of that you thought about.”

Both Pierce and Garnett said how hard this game was for them to play, and taking a look at the final score – an 85-79 Nets win – you can probably gather that the level of basketball wasn’t up to par with NBA standards for most of the game.

“I was telling Kevin [Garnett] and everybody this was the toughest game I ever had to play,” Pierce said. “Tougher than any championship game, or any Game 7. This game was just really hard to focus and concentrate on what was at hand.”

But on this night, the outcome wasn’t so much the important part. It was all about celebrating two players who helped turn this Celtics franchise around and make it a franchise that players want to play on again and fans want to cheer for again.

Mission accomplished.

“The only thing I could say is what I said on the bench, and that is, ‘This town gets it.’” C’s head coach Brad Stevens said. “You know, this town is special and you can see why. And all the people that have gotten a chance to play here and that you talk to, whether they played here for a year or whether they played here for 15 years, all talk about how special it is. And you know that coming in, but you can feel it on nights like tonight. And it was really a great tribute to both guys, obviously extremely well-deserved.”

And although Pierce and Garnett came in wearing Nets jerseys, deep down they’re still lifelong Celtics. That will never change. It’s become a part of their identity. Garnett made that very clear after the game.

“Its’ always gonna be what it is,” Garnett said. “I think well always bleed green as long as we’re playing basketball and as long as we’re living. Even when they bury us six feet [under], this is what it’s gonna be.”



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Drive charged in fatal hit and run, police…

The NYPD has arrested a man they say is responsible for a fatal hit and run in Manhattan last weekend. Doohee Cho, 33, was hit…

Local

Mayor de Blasio raises minimum wage for some…

Mayor Bill de Blasio signed an executive order Tuesday morning that will raise the minimum wage for workers employed by private companies that receive more…

National

3 myths about the working poor

Linda Tirado works to debunk some common stereotypes about the working poor in her new book, "Hand to Mouth."

Money

Lawsuit funding advances: friend or foe?

Reporter was commissioned to write this in-depth article Many plaintiffs awaiting resolution of their lawsuit or legal claim often find themselves in a tricky financial…

Going Out

Which NYC restaurant lost its three-star Michelin rating?

A record 73 restaurants in New York City collected coveted Michelin stars on Tuesday as a mix of trendy spots and fine-dining stalwarts underscored the…

Entertainment

Interview: Metro chats with filmmaker Meir Kalmanson, man…

A New York filmmaker hands out smiles to its residents.

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, Sept. 30: 'Selfie,' 'Utopia'…

'Selfie' This modern day take on the "My Fair Lady" story stars John Cho in the Henry Higgins role. Perhaps instead of "the rain in…

Music

Can't-miss weekend events continue to attract the masses

Reporter was commissioned to write this in-depth article Earlier this summer, the Firefly Music Festival drew crowds of tens of thousands of people to Dover, Delaware.…

MLB

Mets 2014 report card

The Mets wrapped up their eight straight season without a playoff appearance last weekend. Needless to say, they fell a bit short of general manager…

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Cowboys, Packers, Ravens, Chargers climb

NFL Power Rankings: Cowboys, Packers, Ravens, Chargers climb

NFL

Ryan Quigley making a big impact for Jets…

Ryan Quigley, now in his second year as the Jets punter, had an exceptional afternoon with six punts for an average of 51.7 yards per punt.

NFL

3 positives to take from Jets loss to…

The Jets suffered another loss Sunday — 24-17 to the Lions — but the reason why it hurts so much for Jets fans is that…

Style

Products that support breast cancer awareness and research

Asics GT-1000, $100 Asics’ third pink collection in collaboration with Christina Applegate’s Right Action for Women includes this pink-accented version of its best-selling GT-1000 3…

Wellbeing

Dr. Marisa Weiss: Where we stand on breast…

As an oncologist and a survivor herself, Dr. Marisa Weiss knows the urgency felt by those diagnosed with breast cancer. Genetic testing has accelerated the…

Wellbeing

Bees' stingers hold new hope for cancer cure

A promising new lead in the search for a cancer cure has turned up in a place that most people naturally avoid. A team from…

Home

Emily Henderson on small space design

Design expert Emily Henderson shows us how to upgrade our cramped quarters.