Assuming Boston fans aren’t still suffering from laryngitis from all their cheering for Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, they will have another set of hometown boys to root for on Wednesday.
Brett Brown, Michael Carter-Williams and Nerlens Noel aren’t quite on the same level of Pierce and Garnett, obviously — Noel, the No. 6 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, hasn’t even played this season — but the New England roots run deep for those three members of the Philadelphia 76ers.
Brown, a native of South Portland, Maine, is the Sixers’ first-year head coach. Carter-Williams, born in Hamilton, Mass., mans the point. Noel, a 19-year-old rookie forward, attended high school in Everett, Mass., for two years before transferring to Tilton School in New Hampshire.
Unlike Pierce and Garnett, the members of the Philly trio truly are native sons. Brown, in particular, had plenty of memories to share leading up to his first game as a head coach in Boston. Trekking down to Celtics games from South Portland “was such a big part of my upbringing,” he told reporters on Tuesday.
Oddly enough, Brown is now working for the side he grew up rooting against in the historic Boston-Philadelphia rivalry.
“I can still hear the music, the introduction, to the NBA Game of the Week,” Brown told Christopher A. Vito of the Delaware County Daily Times. “You hear and you think immediately, ‘NBA.’ To travel down to the Garden, and to see, back in my day, it was [George] McGinnis and Julius Erving and Bobby Jones and Andrew Toney and Mo Cheeks and Doug [Collins] and so on. I couldn’t believe how Toney would kick the Celtics’ tail. He was so unguardable.”
Carter-Williams and Noel aren’t old enough to remember the old Boston Garden — much less to have played in it — but Brown did both after he participated in a few tournaments there as a player at Boston University.
Like former Celtics players, Brown came to learn the dead spots in the parquet floor where the ball just wouldn’t bounce. The building seemed cavernous — literally, in one sense.
“In the seats I had, you’d look up five feet to the roof and see the moss and the stalagmites or stalactites, I don’t remember which one goes up or down,” Brown said. “You’re in an old, dingy building that had so much character.”
The old Garden is gone, but on Wednesday Brown can officially say he is part of the character of the new Garden. Stalactites not included.