Best of the 2010s: The most memorable Celtics moments of the decade
BOSTON — The past decade has been filled with lots of emotional moments for the Boston Celtics.
To list them all or even most of them … impossible.
But we there were some that stood out from the others, moments that we will take inventory of in this space right now.
Without further ado, here are the most memorable Boston Celtics moments from this past decade.
2010: Game 7 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in NBA Finals
After losing Kendrick Perkins (knee) in the early stages of Game 6, the Celtics seemingly regrouped in Game 7 with a victory — and Banner 18 — just minutes away.
But a late-game surge by the Lakers catapulted them to an 83-79 win, and in doing so, put an unofficial end to the Big Three’s status as title contenders in Boston.
2013: Celtics-Pacers game canceled amid Boston Marathon Bombings
Basketball truly became a footnote in the minds of many prior to Boston’s regulalry scheduled game against Indiana on April 16, three days after the Boston Marathon Bombings.
The NBA made the choice to cancel the game with no plans to reschedule it. And the reasoning made sense for many reasons. The Celtics and Pacers at that point were already locked in as far their playoff seeding position, with Boston (41-40) as the seventh seed while Indiana (49-32) was the No. 3 seed.
2013: Drafting Kelly Olynyk instead of Giannis Antetokounmpo
Hindsight is always perfect, but Celtics fans can’t help but play the “what if …” game when it comes to Giannis Antetokounmpo, who could have been a Boston Celtic.
In the 2013 NBA draft, Antetokounmpo was picked by Milwaukee with the 15th overall pick after the Celtics, originally slated to pick at 16, moved up to 13 go select Gonzaga’s Kelly Olynyk who has had a solid career but ... he ain’t The Greek Freak!
2013: Trading Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett to Brooklyn for lots of players, draft picks
Danny Ainge pulled off the blockbuster trade of trades when he sent Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to Brooklyn in exchange for a slew of contracts and a boatload of draft picks.
The picks speeded up the rebuild in Boston, which essentially lasted just one season while the Celtics used the picks to add players who have been instrumental to the C's consistently being among the top teams in the East.
2014: Trading Rajon Rondo to Dallas
The Celtics trading away Rajon Rondo did more than usher in the team’s rebuilding process; it also brought an official end to the team’s last championship, in 2008, by getting rid of the last player from that squad.
Rondo finished his career as the Celtics’ all-time leader in assists per game (8.5) along with being ranked among the franchise’s all-time greats in total assists (4,474, fourth overall) and steals (990, third).
2016: Al Horford signing with Boston
Free agents have treated Boston like it was in the middle of Siberia for years. But those frosty times have thawed off considerably, with Horford being the first major free agent to sign with the Celtics.
Him choosing Boston — rather than being traded to the C's — sent a clear an undeniable message that Boston was indeed a destination to consider for future free agents.
The Horford signing opened the door for others, like Gordon Hayward and Enes Kanter, to follow suit.
2017: Isaiah Thomas’ 53-point playoff performance vs. Washington
Only the late John Havlicek scored more points (54) among Celtics players in a postseason game.
But Thomas’ performance was magical for other reasons. Still grieving from the death of his sister Chyna Thomas, Isaiah Thomas delivered one of the greatest playoff scoring performances ever by a Boston Celtic on what would have been Chyna’s 23rd birthday.
2017: Trading No. 1 pick for Jayson Tatum, future first-round pick
The Celtics maintained all along that they would have selected Jayson Tatum with the No. 1 pick.
But instead, they were able to get him at No. 3 and a future first-round pick (Romeo Langford) in a lopsided trade — in Boston’s favor — with Philadelphia.
These are the kind of deals that have in many ways come to define who Danny Ainge is and how he has worked most of this decade.
2017: Paul Pierce’s final game at TD Garden
The idea that Paul Pierce wasn’t going to score in his final game at the TD Garden just didn’t seem possible.
But it was looking that way until he knocked down a 3-pointer with 11 seconds to play. As expected, it was an emotional night for fans as well as Pierce, who spent the first 15 years of his NBA career in Boston and whose name is splattered all up and down the franchise’s all-time leaders list.
2017: Acquiring Kyrie Irving from Cleveland
Kyrie Irving wanted out of Cleveland and the Celtics were more than happy to make that happen.
In Irving, the Celtics acquired one of the NBA’s top point guards of this generation, in exchange for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, an unprotected first-round pick from Brooklyn and later, a second-round pick from Miami.
During his two seasons in Boston, Irving played some of his best basketball which included shooting a career-best 48.7 percent from the field during the 2018-2019 season.
2018: Kyrie Irving's “If you guys will have me back” comment
Kyrie Irving may have had legitimate reasons for deciding to sign with the Brooklyn Nets.
But Celtics fans will never forgive him for saying he would return to Boston “if you guys will have me back,” only to instead take his game to Brooklyn, which is close to his childhood home in New Jersey. And in Irving’s first shot at playing against his former team, he stayed in Brooklyn to nurse a shoulder injury that continues to keep him sidelined.
It remains to be seen if Irving will be in Boston when the two teams meet on March 3 at TD Garden.