Jan. 26, 2014. The date had been circled in big, bright red permanent marker for many as the night of all nights to be at the TD Garden. It would be Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett's first return to the Garden since both were traded.
Video tributes have been the norm for just about every returning player from the 2008 championship team. But this one was special. This was the Captain, The Truth, back in the house in a different uni with a different team, for the first time like, ever. And Garnett, arguably the most important piece in restoring Celtics pride around these parts, was in the building as well.
"I was probably about five seconds from shedding (tears), five seconds I'll admit it," Pierce said. "No words can really describe the shower of love here."
Both players fought back the emotions of the evening and later, fought off a late surge by the Celtics to escape with an 86-79 win.
It was fitting that it ended with Kevin Garnett coming up with a key defensive play in the closing seconds to seal the victory.
And when the final horn sounded, there were more hugs, more emotions spilling on to the floor.
In watching the connection between Pierce and Garnett with their former teammates and Celtics Nation, it became apparent to anyone in the building that these two are Green Teamers for life.
"We'll always bleed green as long as we're playing basketball and as long as we're living," Garnett said. "Even when they bury us six-feet, this is what it's gonna be."