PHILADELPHIA — To have a basketball game cancelled is a small price, especially considering that some people lost their lives as a result of the Boston Marathon bombing one year ago.
That cancelled game, a late-season tilt against the Indiana Pacers, was the only way most Boston Celtics players were directly affected by the events of April 15, 2013. But a year later, with their season finale scheduled around a solemn week in the Boston area, the importance of the date hasn’t been lost on coach Brad Stevens’ squad.
“Coach brought it to our attention, how this is a special week in Boston,” Rajon Rondo said after the Celtics’ 113-108 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers. “We get one more chance to play in front of our fans, so it’s definitely a great time to play sports, give the fans something to cheer about and keep spirits high in Boston.”
Rondo was sidelined with a torn ACL and Stevens was still at Butler when two accused terrorists set up bombs near the finish line on Boylston Street. By the time the Celtics next took the court in Boston, Dzokhar Tsarnaev was in custody after an eventful week, the Bruins and Red Sox had held their own emotional ceremonies and the city had changed forever.
In less than a year as coach of the Celtics, Stevens has already gotten a taste of Bostonians’ passion for their sports teams — and why it is important for his team to honor those fans by going full-bore in Wednesday’s game.
“The season’s flown by in a lot of ways, and it’s been really long in a lot of others,” Stevens said. “But I think the highlight for me is getting a chance to coach in Boston. I think the players on our team, even though we haven’t had much success, really, really appreciate playing in Boston, playing for the Celtics and playing for our fans. March and early April, with a team that’s out of the playoff picture, have been some of the best and most fun crowds we’ve played in front of. It speaks to the fans in Boston and I think our guys are excited to play there one more time.”
One more time. With feeling.