As the summer pressed on, the NBA Draft arrived on June 22nd and Jayson Tatum arrived in Boston (well, figuratively) as Brad Stevens' newest shiny toy. Even with the addition of the 19-year old Duke product, Celtics fans and the media alike were begging for another major addition to the team as many still felt slighted by dropping two spots in the draft order.
No more than two weeks later, the fireworks team owner Wyc Grousbeck had promised Celtics fans long ago had arrived just in time for a proper Fourth of July celebration as the team signed all-star small forward Gordon Hayward.
Long rumored to be in line for a reunion with his former college coach at Butler University and now Celtics head coach, Brad Stevens, this move still came with a lot of surprise to many across the league. Citing "unfinished business" with Stevens, it was obvious Hayward intended to complete what him and his old coach had fell a few inches away from back at Butler.
A huge shake up for the Eastern Conference in particular, although Hayward might not be an MVP candidate, he was a player fans felt that between his talent and attitude could bring this team to the next level. Pair him with the rise of Brad as one of the league's best coaches, the third highest scorer in the league last year (Isaiah Thomas) and a core of both phenomenal veterans and youngsters, it seemed the Celtics finally had all their pieces they desired in tact.
Or so we thought.
I still literally get goosebumps when I think of opening my iPhone to look at the notification. I was actually out to eat with my parents for their anniversary and remember looking across the table at my father and just starting to laugh before explaining the trade.
Now there were rumblings that began the night before into that morning that Danny Ainge MAY ... just may ... have inquired with the Cleveland Cavaliers about trading for Kyrie Irving. As any other Celtics fan at the time, I simply laughed off the thought despite how pleasing it may have sounded because why in God's name would the Cavs send Kyrie to us?
In what may have been the biggest blockbuster trade of the last decade in the NBA, the Celtics agreed to send Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the 2018 Brooklyn Nets first round draft rights to the Cavs for Kyrie Irving and sent the NBA world into a frenzy.
Fans were calling the Cavs idiots. Players were popping eye-ball emojis off at an un-human rate, Danny Ainge was once again the savior of the Celtics, and ... then there wasn't a trade anymore.
Originally reported to be calling off the trade due to Isaiah Thomas failing to pass his physical due to an ailing hip injury, Cavs management called Danny Ainge to inform him the trade wasn't going to happen. Well ... unless he sweetens the pot a little more of course. And so they did as the Celtics and Cavs eventually agreed upon the deal after Ainge decided to send an invaluable second round pick as compensation for the physical mishap -- I really hope you noticed the sarcasm there.
BUT THERE IT WAS. Done deal. Kyrie Irving ... Uncle Drew ... was a Celtic. One of the best players in the league, never mind arguably the greatest ball handler ever and a nightly highlight reel, Kyrie presented us with a light at the end of the tunnel. And that's what had to be the best part for Celtics fans, not just the trade itself but the closure that came along with it. The confirmation that all along Danny had a plan and, despite the backlash and disagreement from fans/media alike, stuck to his guns ... and it paid off ... big.
The laughs didn't last too long for fans like myself though as the season finally began a few months later with another bang.
Losing their biggest signing in years/new all-star, Gordon Hayward, to a season-ending broken ankle five minutes into the season opener. And as 2017 had brought fans to their highest of highs at times, this was their low. This was the nightmare waiting to happen that even the most pessimistic, Johnny Raincloud-type C's fan couldn't have predicted to happen in a million years.
How? How after all this waiting and all the work and moves it took to get us here does this happen? How could this happen after everything? But it did. And with it came the cold reality of a another season all for not sitting right ahead for the Green and their fans.
But as we know in Boston specifically, an underdog story tells much better around these parts than that of the favorite.
Peeling off 16 straight wins after losing their season and home openers, to date the Celtics still have the longest winning streak of the year.
Not slowing down too much in the time since (13-7), the Celtics now find themselves as the only team in the league with 30 wins this season. Despite the fact that playing the most games in the league to this point probably helped the team reach this mark, nobody can deny what Coach Stevens' crew has pulled off to date. No one expected even a fully-manned 2017-18 squad to be 16 wins-in-a-row good, never mind this one.
Thanks in large part to Jayson Tatum's emergence as possible Rookie of the Year candidate who plays well beyond his years, much improved play from sophomore high-flyer Jaylen Brown, and a better defensive output as a team this season, the Celtics closed the year having the second best year to date in franchise history.
BOSTON CELTICS - MOST WINS CALENDAR YEAR
(Last 40 years)
Well maybe it's not technically the second best year overall in terms of success. We didn't see a Celtic championship in 2017, hell we didn't even see a Finals appearance. Seeing as the team still won the second most games of any calendar year though and how 2017 did bare a lot of the makings of a championship contender, I don't think any fans will be complaining about the year they had.
Happy News Years and best wishes for a happy 2018 everybody!