Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports
Throughout the history of fanhood there have been some inexplicably devastating injuries. Some of them career ending, some of them season ending. All of them, though, impact fans in a number of ways. And almost assuredly, all of them leave fans asking themselves questions. Why? Why do I care?
Those emotions. Those overwhelming emotions you feel that at times are hard to explain. We try to hold back tears -- sometimes successful, sometimes not -- and we wonder. Why do we care so much about something that doesn't really impact us? But, we can't help it. We care, our emotions get the best of us and they show us just how important this is to us.
That was me and countless other Celtics faithful on Sunday afternoon. Rajon Rondo tore his ACL against the Hawks on Friday night. He's done for the year, gone without much of a chance to help a Boston team trying desperately to compete one last time with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. And the Celtics are left with the task of rising from the rubble of a crippling start to the season without their All-Star point guard.
Fans are left with memories, with tears, with unfulfilled expectations. No, he didn't die. This isn't meant to be a eulogizing piece to the late, great Rajon Rondo. He'll return next season, hopefully as healthy as he always was, and he'll continue to thrill us with his court vision, perturb us with his decision making and confuse us by his enigmatic personality. That doesn't make reality any easier to grasp as a fan.
Oftentimes it's hard to put into words why some things matter so much to fans. After all, many of us are healthy, thriving human beings. We aren't the one having to deal with imminent surgery and a long recovery process. We aren't the ones having to figure out the pieces to the inexplicably difficult task of moving on without a true point guard. We're the innocent bystanders, the ones emotionally invested more than we probably care to admit. We care.
We care so much that it hurts. It's frustrating. A team on the verge of rebuilding, on the edge of the end, could quite possibly fizzle out without so much as a whimper. And there's nothing we can do about it. All we can do is hope, trust and watch with the undying devotion that qualifies us as fans.
That's right. A fan. A fanatic. The very premise of fanhod is based on irrational devotion to something in which most of us play no part. And that's what is confusing at times. The inexplicable happens and we're left grasping for words, searching for hope and wondering why it matters to us. But, it does, and we have to try to get over it and move forward. We do. We will.
The Celtics played the entirety of Sunday's game against the Heat without knowing the severity of Rajon Rondo's injury. The result was a victory and the first win for Boston in six games. Halfway through the game, most of the Celtics fans knew the extent of Rondo's injury.
The players didn't know Rondo was done for the season, but the way they fought gave the appearance of a team fighting for an injured teammate. The result was sweet. A win against the team that demoralized Boston the last time the two faced each other in the Garden. And yet the sting of loss was ever-present even in the reality of victory.
Now the Celtics move forward, their future even more uncertain than it was just hours before Sunday's game. The team might rally around each other, pick up the slack and thrust themselves into the thick of things in the Eastern Conference. The odds are not in their favor. Without a true back-up point guard and with a bench that has been wildly inconsistent at times, Boston may find itself hobbling to the finish line.
But the Celtics won't quit. If there's one thing that epitomizes Doc Rivers' Boston teams, it's heart and fight. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are on their last legs and neither of them have ever been the type of player to lose desire, to lose hope. The Celtics could still make the playoffs and, while an NBA title seems out of the realm of possibility, could still provide some excitement after such a devastating blow.
The Celtics have been in this position before. Kevin Garnett went down with an injury in 2009, and Boston fans were left with a similar feeling. In 2010, Kendrick Perkins was lost with an ACL injury mere minutes away from a second NBA title for the Big Three. Yet again, Celtics faithful were left with questions. Why?
Each time, the Celtics have fought back, fought hard and, against all odds, contended. After all, the most experienced fighters don't go down without swinging. Will that happen this season? Who knows. The numbers are not in Boston's favor. Rational thinking would insist that Boston's run will end this year, Rondo's injury only expediting the process. Whatever happens, the Celtics will continue to fight.
And we'll still be here -- unsure of the future, grateful for the past and still trying to make sense of how this season has played out. We may not understand, but that's the beauty of life. Befuddling things happen and we're left with questions and other uncertainties. But one thing never changes. We care. And we always will.