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Thank you, Celtics

This season, the Celtics were more than a basketball team for me.

2022 NBA Finals-Golden State Warriors v Boston Celtics Photo by Annette Grant/NBAE via Getty Images

The wounds are fresh right now, I get it. It feels like the Boston Celtics let one slip away, and to some extent, that’s probably true. But, oh my, we had a fun ride en route to The NBA Finals.

There were ups, downs, loop-de-loops, tangled webs, and clear roads - this season had it all. Unfortunately, not everything ends in a fairy tale, and things that start slowly before gathering steam don’t always cross the finish line. It’s a cold fact of life.

Life, eh.

What a peculiar journey.

You see, before this season started, I was going through one of the hardest times of my life - still am, to be honest. Yet somehow, I’ve found happiness amongst the darkness.

On August 28, 2021, my grandmother, Kathleen Taylor, passed away.

I have lived with her for the majority of my life. From when I was born to when I was 13, my mom and I lived with her as my grandad was sick. I moved back in at 21 and lived with her until the day she died. I’ve never known my dad, but I was lucky enough to have two mother figures. So yes, I was fortunate to have her for 34 years, but the grief was, and is, akin to losing a parent, not a grandparent, or so I would imagine.

Kathleen Taylor
Kathleen Taylor

Of course, once she passed away, I was essentially homeless. Not just me, but my wife and daughter, too. I had just made the move to becoming a full-time freelance writer, so a mortgage was out of the question. No time to grieve, no time to mourn - just straight-up business.

Since then, I’ve flirted with depression. Experienced the deepest depths of anxiety. And not a day has gone by when I’ve felt like “Adam Taylor.”

This whole nightmare began on August 28, and concluded on September 15, when we moved into our new place and I began to piece things back together workwise and my university studies ramped back up.

Then, basketball began to happen. First, it was free agency then Summer League, and then, the regular season tipped off. Suddenly, in the midst of the never-ending grief, I was finding pockets of escapism, where nothing mattered except basketball.

Who missed a rotation? Was that screen angled correctly? Woah! Their handle has improved — every detail gave me another few seconds of reprieve.

That’s the beauty about the NBA, your team plays almost every day. By the time a game has finished, you’ve gotten your rewatch in, written about it, podcasted about it, created social media breakdowns about it — the next game is about to tip off.

Basketball can become a significant part of who you are if you let it. It’s more than that though. Basketball. It’s a community, for better or worse.

Most of my friends have moved abroad, and the ones that haven’t, have families. So, when I was at my most vulnerable and felt alone with no one outside of my family to talk to, it was the friends I have made through social media that provided an ear. It was them sending me messages of support, checking in on me, and listening to my rants - shoutout to Bill Sy, Keith Smith, Tim Sheils, and Simon Pollock from the CelticsBlog team, too!

I’ve never been one to talk about my feelings out loud - which is partly why I’m writing this - but it’s also why I would’ve never burdened my family with how I was feeling.

The Celtics introduced me to those people. Not directly, but without Celtics basketball, I don't have those relationships. The Celtics gave me an outlet to channel my anger and frustrations during the early part of the season when they couldn’t hold onto a lead.

And then, the Celtics gave me a reason to believe that things do get better. Their season miraculously turned around, and suddenly, they were one of the best teams in the NBA. They showed me that joy can come out of the toughest of moments. That hope is never too far behind despair. And that belief is one of the most powerful tools a human can possess.

Then there was the personal development this season provided me. You see, I’ve always been obsessed with basketball, but never as much as this season - credit that to what you will. My free time has been spent learning the X’s and O’s, obsessing over every set, wanting to get myself to a level where I could easily fit within a team’s film room, and I hope that’s shown throughout the season, even if it is still a work in progress.

But most of all, every game reminded me that you don’t succeed if there’s no fight in you, that if you back down to adversity, failure will always be on the horizon. The Celtics reminded me what it means to back yourself against everyone, against everything — no matter how high the odds are stacked, or how few people believe your goal is possible.

They did that.

The Boston Celtics.

And yes, the ending to the season wasn’t what we all hoped and dreamed. But it was real. It was a group of young, talented athletes, fighting against the odds, giving their all to try and achieve something bigger than themselves. You don’t always win on the first try. If you did, it wouldn’t mean as much when that success finally comes your way.

Falling over is part of the journey. As 50 Cent once said, “joy wouldn’t feel so good if it wasn’t for pain.”

I’m just picking myself up after one of the hardest falls of my life, and the Celtics were there to help catch me on the way down - even if they didn’t know it. So, while I know the players, coaches, and front office members are highly unlikely to read this, I want to say, “thank you.”

Thank you for leaving everything on the floor. Thank you for being a constant reminder of how to approach real-life struggles. Thank you for helping me through the darkness. But mostly, thank you for a year's worth of amazing hustle and effort.

And to all of you who have rocked with me over the last few years, sent me messages, downloaded the podcast, and admired from afar, thank you too! Each and every one of you helped me get through this past year, and for that, I’m grateful.

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