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A sort of homecoming

Posted by David Sabino  August 7, 2013 08:51 AM

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PierceGarnett.jpgThe NBA announced the 2013-14 schedule yesterday, setting the stage for one of the most greatly anticipated basketball returns to Boston in recent times. Celtics, fans, management and holdover players alike will be circling January 26 on their calendars, in preparation for the Brooklyn Nets’ first trip to the TD Garden. The last two members of the now-legendary “Big Three,” Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, will be making an emotional pilgrimage to the sight of some of the greatest moments in their illustrious and nearly certainly Hall of Fame careers.

It will be an especially poignant evening for Pierce who, whose impact on the Celtics was discussed in more detail here . One of the most prolific players in the annals of Celtics lore, Pierce has never appeared on Boston’s parque in any other professional uniform, a trait quite commonplace among the franchise’s major stars over the years. In fact, given the team’s propensity to have their greats remain with the team until retirement (Larry Bird, John Havlicek, Tommy Heinsohn, K.C. Jones, Sam Jones, Kevin McHale, Bill Russell) returns of even one major contributor (let alone two) to play against the Celtics at the Garden have been rare.

Of the 27 Celtics enshrined in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame as players, 17 finished their playing days wearing the green and white (and Bob Cousy didn’t play in Boston after coming out of retirement) while a few others (Gary Payton, Dominique Wilkins, Bob McAdoo) spent very little time with Boston.

Here’s how some notable ex-Celtics players fared in their return to the Garden wearing a strange uniform.

•December 15, 1956 Ed Macauley, traded for the rights to Bill Russell, scored 19 points for the Hawks.

•November 10, 1976 Don Chaney manages just six points for the Lakers, one year after bolting Boston for San Antonio of the ABA.

•November 10, 1982 Coming out of retirement for the Bucks, Dave Cowens nearly double-doubles with 10 points and nine boards.

•November 2, 1983 Tiny Archibald gets a standing ovation in pregame introductions and proceeds to score seven points for the Bucks on 3 of 5 shooting.

• February 28, 1986 Traded the season before, it took awhile for Cedric Maxwell to make his way back to Boston. He responded with typical hustle, racking up six points, five rebounds two assists and two steals as a Clipper.

• February 4, 1990 While his shooting wasn’t that sharp (1 for 7, 2 points), Kings guard Danny Ainge turned to distributing the ball, notching 10 assists.

• November 23, 1994 Starting alongside Alonzo Mourning for Charlotte, the 41-year old Robert Parish scored eight points with four rebounds and a block in 22 minutes.

•February 5, 1999 Dee Brown’s 3 of 13 shooting for seven points with just three boards, two assists and two steals against the C’s could be a sign of why a promising player was traded to the Raptors.

•December 17, 2003 Dallas Mavericks forward Antoine Walker misses all six of his attempts from beyond the arc en route to 3-14 shooting. He does grab seven rebounds and dish out eight assists.

• January 16, 2012 Sent to Oklahoma City for Jeff Green, Kendrick Perkins occupies space as usual to the tune of seven points, five rebounds and a block.

• January 27, 2013 The first member of the "Big Three" to depart, Ray Allen torches his old mates for 21 points despite an uncharacteristically poor 2-8 shooting night from three-point range.

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Stats Driven is powered by David Sabino, who over the last two decades has been a source of statistical analysis on the pages of Sports Illustrated, New York Times, and Chicago Tribune. David has written about all seven recent Boston-area championships for Sports Illustrated Presents commemorative issues, was the creator of such long time features as SI’s Player Value Ranking, NBA Player Rating and long running fantasy football and baseball columns.

He has also authored or made contributions to many books, including the Sports Illustrated’s 100 Fenway: A Fascinating First Century.

Now living in Marblehead, he’s focusing his attention on the Boston sports scene, specifically delving into the numbers affecting the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics and Bruins, with the goal of informing and entertaining real fans. You can follow him on Twitter at @SabinoSports.

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