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Big Al Returns

The Minnesota Timberwolves and former Boston Celtics - Ryan Gomes, Gerald Green, Al Jefferson, Theo Ratliff, Sebastian Telfair and Antoine Walker - come to Boston tomorrow night. This marks the first regular season meeting between these two teams since the Kevin Garnett deal. Couple of suggestions:

  • Check out Twolves Blog to get caught up on Minnesota.
  • If you go to the game give Jefferson a standing O during the pre game introductions. Garnett is not a Celtic without Jefferson turning himself into a legitimate double double guy last season. Meanwhile, I can't imagine anyone would boo. That would be downright asinine.
Anyways, in honor of Al Jefferson I came up with 5 of my favorite moments from his time in Boston. Enjoy:

Honorable Mention: Allegedly Jefferson got off the plane before his rookie season wearing a Paul Pierce jersey. I can't put it on the official list because it has not been confirmed and it is most likely apocryphal. However, it is at the very least believable, which is awesome.

5. April 16 2007:
Jefferson's buzzer beater would be higher up if the Miami Heat pretended the game mattered and Dorell Wright, Michael Doleac, Chris Quinn, Jason Kapono and Earl Barron were not on the floor together at the end. But any time a Celtic inspires maniacal laughter from Tommy Heinsohn I get interested. As a side note this was the second to last game of Jefferson's Celtic career.

  1. 2005 Playoff Series Against the Indiana Pacers: Jefferson averaged 6 points and 6 rebounds in 19 minutes per game. More importantly he excited Celtics fans that had numerous reasons, including that debacle against the Pacers, to be negative. Granted the raised expectations were not met the following season, as Jefferson struggled in his sophomore campaign. But there was still reason for optimism beyond "Danny Ainge likes him."
  2. Summer 2006: Word leaked out of Waltham that Jefferson was taking a maniacal approach to improving his game. Granted Peter F. Stringer was the messenger and was the forum. But it was important for Celtics fans to read, as Big Al's work ethic had been questioned in the past. Furthermore, that August Jefferson had surgery to remove bone spurs from his ankle. This was a huge deal as it proved that Jefferson missed significant time with more than just a sprained ankle. Ultimately, Big Al's hard work paid off and an appendectomy only briefly slowed down his break out season.
  3. December 9th 2006: Paul Pierce sunk the Nets with a buzzer beater in New Jersey. Pierce proceeded to beat his chest and do the thing where he pulls his jersey out to bring attention to #34. However, Al Jefferson was probably the bigger story from that game. He was finally starting to get decent minutes after coming back from the appendectomy. Furthermore, with his 29 points and 14 rebounds, Jefferson led the team in both categories for the first time all season. I won't embed the YouTube clip because it's low quality. But check out some of Big Al's moves if you have some time to kill. Bonus points because it kicked off a five game win streak that was significant for four reasons:
  • The Celtics won 24 games all season and lost 18 straight at one point. So five victories in a row is pretty impressive.
  • Jefferson dropped 22 on Charlotte and 28 on the Nuggets. Further proof that his low post moves were legit.
  • Big Al led the team in rebounding during 4 of the 5 games. Maybe he wasn't defending all that well, but the big guy was hitting the boards.
  • The streak came to a close in that game against the Golden State Warriors when Baron Davis torched the C's and Paul Pierce inexplicably held the ball during the final possession. After the game we learned that Pierce was hurt and would miss some time. Boston's season was, for all intents and purposes, over.
1. When rumors surfaced that the Celtics might trade Jefferson for Allen Iverson the former Prentiss High School stand out made it clear that he did not want to leave. Shira Springer reported  how explicitly Jefferson stated his desire to remain in Boston:
"I'm not worried about it, but I don't want to go. If I leave, I'm going to handcuff myself to the bus and say, 'I don't want to go.' I just don't want to go. I love being here. I love Doc [Rivers] as a coach. I love this team. - Al Jefferson"

I was extremely excited about that quote at the time.

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