It’s bad times in Beantown
Sports fans in Boston have had a difficult time finding things to cheer about over the course of the past year, and this week has only added to their adversity.
It began with game 6 of the NHL Stanley Cup Finals Monday night. The Chicago Blackhawks led the series 3-2, but things looked hopeful after Milan Lucic’s goal gave the Boston Bruins a 2-1 lead with eight minutes remaining.
The sold-out TD Garden began to chant, “We want the Cup!”
Perhaps they should have been careful what they wished for. Bryan Bickell and Dave Bolland of Chicago scored two goals just 17 seconds apart in the final 1:16 of regulation to beat Boston 3-2 and claim the Stanley Cup in front of the Boston faithful.
Then came the arrest and horrifying details regarding New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, who was arrested Wednesday on charges of first-degree murder and five weapons counts in the death of his friend, Odin Lloyd. Hernandez has been cut from the Pats’ roster and is being held without bail.
New England had the highest offensive production in the NFL last year and their two-tight end set with Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski was a huge contributor to those numbers. However, Gronkowski has since undergone four surgeries on his injured left forearm and just went under the knife again for back surgery last week.
He is not expected to see any serious playing time until the latter part of the season, when he will be eased back into the lineup. Hernandez, on the other hand, looks like he will be lucky to see the outside of a prison cell, much less the playing field.
The final blow came during Thursday night’s NBA draft when it was announced that the Boston Celtics had agreed to trade the last remaining pieces of the ‘Big Three’ that had delivered them an NBA-record 17th title in 2008.
If reports are accurate, the Celtics will send Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, and one other player. The deal would include three first-round draft picks that aren’t even guaranteed to be lottery picks.
The dismantling process actually began earlier in the week when the team traded beloved coach Doc Rivers to the Los Angeles Clippers for another first-round draft pick in 2015.
When the deal was presented to Rivers in an interview on ESPN during the draft, he said, “It’s sad to see everyone leave Boston.”
What’s even more sad is the fact that Garnett and Pierce’s decision to depart was made much easier by Rivers’ decision to put the team behind him.
Garnett had a no-trade clause in his contract, and Pierce was due to receive $15 million next season. Pierce had also spent his entire career with the Celtics.
There was a lot of speculation that Rivers left Boston because he didn’t want to stick around through a rebuilding phase. But it was clear that Pierce and Garnett weren’t interested in leaving before Rivers threw in the towel.
General manager Danny Ainge also commented, saying, “If Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar were traded, I guess everybody’s tradable.”
Considering what the two stars were traded for, I wonder if die-hard Celtics fans will see it that way once the 2014 season has come and gone.
All this comes on the heels of the tragic events at the Boston Marathon in April. In a city where sports are treasured and revered, the marathon stands as the most widely viewed event of the entire year. But those who turned out to watch the race this year watched as the event was marred by chaos and bloodshed after two very troubled young men (who will not be mentioned here) set off two bombs near the finish line, killing three people and injuring 260.
It also can’t be forgotten that the Red Sox finished 69-93 last year, their worst mark since 1965. Team president Larry Luccino referred to it as “a season of agony.”
That agony has surely been felt by fans of nearly every sport in the New England area, and one thing is certain; these dark days have got to be coming to an end for the city of Boston.