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dan shaughnessy

A day to remember

Garnett and Gagne latest stars in local sports galaxy

Christmas Day. Graduation Day. Wedding Day. The day you got your first good job. The day you moved into your dream house. The day your first child was born.

And then there’s July 31, 2007. The day Boston sports fans were rewarded with a stunning shower of gifts.

OK, there were some days in 2004 when it was pretty cool to be a New England sports enthusiast. And we had a pretty good run of championships in our town back in the golden year of 1986. But it’s hard to remember a day like today. After weeks of speculation and hours of rumor and negotiation, the Red Sox became World Series favorites and the Celtics made reservations for the NBA Finals all within a few hours.

Really, now, has there ever been a better time to be a Boston sports fan? Is there any city in the country with more fun in store over the next 10 months? And finally, did the Bruins just punch a ticket on the southbound train that dead-ends in Oblivion, USA?

On the third anniversary of deadline deals that delivered Boston its first World Series championship in 86 years, the Red Sox acquired Eric Gagne, beating the buzzer by a half hour and providing manager Terry Francona with a wealth of options in his bullpen. Then the Celtics held a news conference to introduce superstar Kevin Garnett, who is nothing less than one of the best players in the history of the NBA.

Gagne and Garnett. New stars in the New England sports galaxy. New reasons to believe. Rewards for the millions who care so deeply about our local teams.

We know championships are not won on paper. Stocking a roster with All-Pros does not guarantee ring ceremonies (ask the San Diego Chargers). Injuries and old age sometimes get in the way, and not every established star has been able to bring the magic to our region (anyone remember Jack Clark?).

But it’s hard to hold back in these early hours after the two trades. Hard not to get carried away.

The Celtics were a joke, a bad product with no hope on the horizon. Twenty-four wins and then the poisonous Ping-Pong balls took them off the map and solidified ours as a two-team town. The draft-night deal for Ray Allen, by itself, made no sense. But now that Garnett has been brought on board, it turns out there was a plan after all.

The new Celtics look every bit as formidable as any team in the woeful Eastern Conference. They will have to learn to emphasize defense (a big problem last year), but you can surround Paul Pierce, Allen, and Garnett with Rajon Rondo, Kendrick Perkins, or two guys from the John Barry Boys and Girls Club — they still will make the playoffs. And with three scoring stars they are as good or better than Cleveland, Chicago, Detroit, or Miami.

The Celtics have junked the future in exchange for the present. It’s right out of the George Allen ‘‘Future is Now’’ playbook. And it makes us anxious to get back to the Garden for the first time in a long time. Garnett is a legitimate NBA force. There never has been anyone quite like him. He’s a 6-foot-11-inch, backboard-eating, perimeter-roaming, jump-shooting former Most Valuable Player. And his arrival gives the Celtics a shot to make one of those turnarounds that accompanied Larry Bird’s first year in Boston (29 wins to 61 wins).

I am reminded of Danny Ainge’s early days with the Celtics. Red Auerbach saw Ainge playing a little poker with Kevin McHale and some other teammates and asked Ainge if gambling was not a violation of the rules of his Mormon faith.

‘‘It’s not gambling when I play against these guys,’’ Ainge said with a smile. ‘‘It’s a sure thing.’’

Certainly Al Jefferson may become an All-Star and Gerald Green someday may harness his gifts and better learn the game, but in the short term this deal is no gamble. And kudos to the sometimes-maligned Celtics owners. They have put their wallets on the line to bring a winner back to Boston.

Which brings us to the Red Sox. Remember when the Yankees stockpiled stars and contracts like the cold war Soviet Union stacking nuclear missiles? The Red Sox have become the Yankees and John Henry is playing the part of George Steinbrenner with more believability (if less bluster) than Oliver Platt. A team that already has Jonathan Papelbon, Hideki Okajima, and Mike Timlin adds Eric Gagne? The Sox’ stable of starters now is backed by a raft of reliable relievers. The Sox have the best record in baseball and are getting ready to add Gagne and get Curt Schilling back. In one swift trade-deadline motion, the Sox made themselves October favorites while the Yankees slept.

Roll the tape back a little more to truly appreciate what is happening around here. The Patriots came within a minute of advancing to the Super Bowl, then re-loaded with ferocity never seen during the Bill Belichick regime. You know their names. And now the Patriots are favorites to make it to Arizona in February.

We are the town with Manny Ramírez, Tom Brady, Kevin Garnett, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Randy Moss, Ray Allen, Curt Schilling, Bill Belichick, Paul Pierce, David Ortiz, Adalius Thomas, Jonathan Papelbon, Tedy Bruschi, Josh Beckett, Rodney Harrison, Jason Varitek, Richard Seymour, and Eric Gagne. We have reasonable expectations of a World Series, a Super Bowl, and the NBA Finals. There never has been a better time to be a sports fan in Boston.

Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at