BOSTON - As his three went down with a man in his face, John Holland put the Canton Charge up 118-117 on the Maine Red Claws. The shot would be the series clinching shot to send Canton to the NBA D-League Conference Finals.
It would also be his last shot in the D-League.
He impressed the Red Claws' big league team so much that Danny Ainge signed Holland to a two-year contract with the Celtics. The deal includes a non-guaranteed second year per the Boston Globe's Adam Himmelsbach and was first reported by The Vertical's Shams Charania.
Holland's locker in the Garden completes a full circle that started at Boston University, reached as far as Istanbul giant Besiktas and returned to the parquet floor.
"It's a journey, but everybody's journey is different," Holland said. "But I'm happy to be back and trying to help in any way I can."
It's been a whirlwind few weeks for Holland, who led the Charge to a 2-0 sweep of the Red Claws in their playoff series. Holland averaged 28.5 points per game on 62.5 percent shooting (58.8 percent from three) while racking up 4.0 assists as well.
"[I found out] yesterday. I was in the D-League hoping somebody would take notice and I'm glad that it happened. I'm just grateful to be here and trying to do whatever I can to help the Celtics. I know it's game 81 but I want to do whatever I can."
Like seemingly every basketball player involved in a trade or signing, Holland found out the news right around nap time."Money is good, but sometimes it's about the dream," Holland said.
"I was about to take a nap and then my agent called and he told me the news. I can't even remember from there. It's like, I was just so happy, and so grateful to be with the Celtics, one of the best organizations in the history of the game. I'm honored, you know."
When asked if he thinks beating Ainge's farm team is what earned him the call-up, Holland said, "I can't say what it is. I've been down in the D-League trying to play the best that I can to hopefully get noticed, and if that's what did it I'm just grateful that was it, but who knows?"
Holland spent time playing with some of the best teams in Europe, including Besiktas in Istanbul and Sevilla in Spain. While the compensation was better there, the dream of an NBA contract kept beckoning.
"Money is good, but sometimes it's about the dream," Holland said. "You have a dream ever since you start playing basketball to play at the highest level. And that was always my goal, to play at the highest level I can. I didn't know what that was. If it was overseas, it was overseas. But I had to give it a try.
"I had went overseas for the last four years, so I figured I'd really give it a try and stick it out. And I'm just happy that it worked out, and I get an opportunity not only to make a team but to make a good team, a playoff team, and be a part of that whatever way I can. I'm just happy that I'm able to do that."
Holland has a chance to fight for a spot where his reputation as a well-rounded swingman was born. Although he is a Bronx native, it still feels to him like a home coming.