It's been a few days since the Celtics' season ended -- fittingly -- on a last-second loss to the Miami Heat's [Correction: Detroit Pistons. Duh.] D-League squad at home , capping what I think can easily be categorized as the most depressing season ever.
It's hard to look back and place the whole season in its proper perspective, because most Celtics fans have been looking forward to the end of the season since Paul Pierce went down in late December. We've been in coast mode for almost a whole season, gaining only tiny nuggets of hope along the ensuing marathon of losing, most of those nuggets tied to statistics surrounding the upcoming May 22 draft lottery.
I know many people want to just forget that the season ever happened and place all of their attention on the upcoming draft and offseason trading season, but we still have more than a month before the lottery balls are drawn, and another month after that for the draft. In short, there's plenty of time for draft and trade talk.
But for the sake of posterity (and in an effort for me to make peace with the whole debacle), I'm going to look back of some of the few bests -- and many worsts -- of a season we'd rather all forget. And because lists are fun (as well as a good writing device for the lazy), I'll give a top five in a bunch of categories until I run out of ideas.
Given the overall hopeless and dismal nature of the season, I'm going to start with …
Top 5 most depressing moments of the 2006-2007 season:
1) Red passes away
Pretty much a no-brainer here. The one man who's responsible for the C's being one of the greatest teams in American sports history passes away at age 89 shortly before the season even started. The C's then go on to dedicate the season to Red, and of course, make everyone wish they didn't soon after. But as everyone likes to note, at least he didn't have to watch the cheerleaders shake it on center court to the tunes of "Give it Away" and "You Shook Me All Night Long." Combined with that and the fact that he didn't have to watch this monstrosity of a season, it makes it a little less depressing. But it's still No. 1 on the list.
2) DJ passes away
Although certainly a much smaller cog in the Celtics dynasty machine than Red was, DJ's death was more shocking because no one saw it coming. Red, people were preparing for his passing away for years, even if they hoped he'd live to be 150. DJ, he was the type of player who epitomized "team," never sought the limelight but shone just as bright when the chips were down -- the type of veteran-type player the C's of today are painfully short on. As coach of the C's D-League team in Austin, Texas, he was working his way from the ground up, perfectly content with paying his dues in an unglamorous setting before maybe getting considerations at a higher level. A true tragedy to lose him so young.
3) Tony Allen blows out knee
All the injuries the C's suffered throughout the year were bad, but Tony Allen's was devastating. After turning his season around following a horrible first couple months of the season, Tony took a while to start looking like the player he had shown glimpses of in his first two seasons, and finally seemed to be over the knee injury that seemed to limit him mentally and physically. He started clicking for stretches before Pierce went down with the stress reaction in late December, and over the next 10 games Tony was the best player in green. Over that span, he averaged 19 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3 assists, 54 percent shooting and 6.2 free throw attempts a game (where he made 80 percent). In short, it was the best stretch of games by someone other than Pierce or Jefferson. And it all ended with an after-the-whistle-had-blown, unnecessary dunk attempt.
4) C's lose the opener
It was just one game. But it was more than that. It was billed as a tribute to the just-departed Red Auerbach, and included a heartfelt pregame speech from the newly signed Paul Pierce about how the Celtics would dedicate the season to Red, to whom he'd also dedicate the rest of his career. The player's sported shamrock patches with "Red" written on them, which they'd carry throughout the year, and Pierce donned a headband with a No. 2 on it as the Celtics got ready to show off their two brand-spanking new point guards: Sebastian Telfair and Rajon Rondo. The C's then went on to lose a heartbreaker, despite the best efforts of Pierce, as Chris Paul reminds Celtics fans of what a top-caliber point guard looks like. A deflating loss that set the tone for the season.
5) Celtics play Pierce's "win for Red" speech at wrong time
I ranted about this in early February when it happened, but it still makes me cringe to think about it. Now, at the time, the C's were riding a 13-game losing streak, the fans had long given up on the season, sentiments for tanking had laid their roots through the Garden, and nobody wanted to be reminded of the series of unfortunate events that had thus far fell upon the team. So, as the C's started to let a game slip away against the Clippers, what do they show on the Jumbotron during a timeout? Pierce's opening night speech dedicating the season to Red. Terrible timing. Felt like a slap to the face.
Honorable mentions: Tommy Heinsohn roots for Celts to tank against Milwaukee, utter lack of Gino moments at the Garden, every other injury on the team (in descending order of disappointment): Paul Pierce's stress reaction, Theo Ratliff's back, Delonte West's whole body, Wally's ankles, Al's appendectomy and knee, Perk's plantar fasciitis, Olowokandi's abdominal tear, Gomes' foot, Tommy's back, Lucky's leg, Scalabrine's shoulder, hamstring and wrist.
Notable emission: The 18-game losing streak. I'm denying this took place.
Coming next: Best wins of the year