Over the last 20+ years, we've seen a transition in New England. For the majority of my life growing up, all of my favorite sports teams were terrible. On the football field, the Patriots were lucky if they found a way to 7 or 8 games. On the diamond, the Red Sox won in the low 80s and almost never made the playoffs. On the hardwood, Rick Pitino was not only ruining the Celtics franchise in a way that would set it back decades, he was also ruining my life.
Once we hit the early 2000s, everything changed. Boston went from the City Of Losers to the City Of Champions. Most of that was due to Tom Brady and the pressure that his success put on everyone else, but over the next 20 years all the city seemed to do was win titles. The experience is something I could no recommend enough as a fan and is something I hope everyone gets to enjoy at some point in their lives.
Well, now we're at the stage of life where the time has come to honor these Boston legends for what they were able to accomplish for this city and their respective franchises. Since 2017, we've had 4 different instances of this
1. David Ortiz Day in 2017
2. Paul Pierce's Jersey Retirement in 2018
3. Kevin Garnett's Jersey Retirement in 2022
4. Tom Brady Day in 2023
Now these are weird games when they happen. I always wonder how much of a distraction these things are for the players actually playing that night, and one common theme we seem to get with these festivities is the opponent is always pretty damn good. One would think you would hold these ceremonies against a cakewalk opponent, that way the night can be capped off with a win as the perfect ending.
And yet, in reality, these ceremonies actually might be the kiss of death. The Sox won their David Ortiz Day game in 2017, but since then it's been nothing but pain
There was the absolute ASS KICKING that came via LeBron and the Cavs on Pierce's night with a 121-99 loss. That was awkward as hell
Then, a few years later when it was KG's turn we saw more heartbreak, this time with Luka Doncic ripping everyone's hearts out late in a brutal 95-92 loss
which was another total buzz kill. I have to admit it was very Celtics to honor their two legends only to immediately lose those games in their own building. So them.
And then there was yesterday. A day to finally celebrate the man who is essentially responsible for every professional team's success in this region for the last 20+ years and guess what? It was more of the same heartbreak
So over the last 6 years, outside of Papi, every single one of these tributes has been nothing short of a disaster when it comes to ya know, actually winning the game. I guess this is what you get for not scheduling a cupcake opponent, because while some may not want to admit it, losing on these nights does take away from it a little bit. As a fan, you want the full experience, and winning the game is a big part of that. If anything once you lose it just makes you depressed as you think about the golden years. I know in my heart that Pierce doesn't let LeBron embarrass him like that. No chance KG loses, and I'm fairly certain Brady completes that comeback drive last night. It's all a little depressing. Not just because those days are over, but it also reminds you that you are now old as shit and nobody ever really needs that type of reminder.
It's also not crazy to suggest that all these nights do is just motivate your opponent even more. It gives them an additional reason to play hard and spoil everyone's fun. On the flip side, maybe it's just enough of a distraction on the home team's side where it gives their opponent the slightest of edges. Who knows what it is, but I certainly don't care for this sudden trend of not being able to win a game in which you're honoring a franchise legend.
Looking ahead we probably have a few of these coming for the Bruins, so keep this in the back of your brain if you're thinking about sprinkling some hard-earned cash on those games. History tells us it's going to be a nice little kick to the dick to help us remember the old times.