You and I have never met, but I do know you’re pretty damn good at what you do.
You’ve made it to a point in your career when you get to pick where, and for how much, you play next. Congratulations, people don’t understand how hard that actually is.
In the winter of 2003 I was ‘sort of’ in that same boat. I had options. The first? I could go to NY, and become a Yankee, and possibly win the 28th? 29th? World Championship in their storied history.
I could go to Boston and do something no one had seen in their lifetimes, help break an 86 year old curse.
Now there’s no Celtic curse, far from it. Some of your sports greatest players have donned the Irish Green and Clover leaf of the Celts.
Bill Russell? Bird? Havlicek? Bob Cousy? Pretty sure you know them as well or better than I ever could.
Why does that matter? For this reason. Tradition. People here in NE aren’t transplants, they aren’t bandwagon folks. You are born, and raised here, and the Celtic, Sox, Bruins and Pats are not ‘your teams’ they are part of your life. I had NO IDEA it was what it was until I came here.I know passion, I lived for the game, but I never took the ball in front of people who loved their players and their teams more than these folks.
As I learned in the winter of ’03, when I was informed families were actually PRAYING for me to come here over their thanksgiving table, this place is a different world.
And that’s not bad different.
You have the world at your feet. Financially you’re about to get 9 figures worth of contract, and that’s awesome, congratulations.
You’re going to pick your next ‘home’, and I can honestly tell you there is no place on this planet like Boston.
You come here, you help win a title and it won’t be a celebration. It’s a revival, it’s a “you will never be forgotten and never have to buy another beer” kind of championship.
These people live for their teams, their athletes, you come here, bust your ass (which I don’t think will ever be an issue) and you leave it all on the floor and you’ll have a few million folks who’ll name kids, dogs and whatever else they can, Kevin, KD, Durant or some other derivative.
I’ve got no skin in the game other than these people, they treated my family and I like royalty from the day we came here.
I will add this one last thing.
This photo? This is what these people meant to me. I knew my career would change after this, bad things likely would result from pushing my body here, but I would not trade a second of this. I did this because of what my teammates meant to me, and what these people made me realize about tradition, honor, class, loyalty. Being a member of their family means something not only to them, but it will to you.
Whatever your decision I pray you stay healthy and get what you want from the game, but I can assure you coming here will be a decision you’ll look back on and smile after your 2nd or 3rd title. Heading into the Basketball HoF in a Celts jersey?
Pretty sure it gets no better than that.
God Bless and Good luck
Member of the 2004 and 2007 Boston Red Sox World Championship teams