A fully healthy roster just seemed too good to be true for the Celtics, who have had championship aspirations diluted repeatedly by roster injuries. Remember KG in 2008/09? And then we had Perk’s ACL injury in the infamous Game 6 of the 2009/10 Finals. In 2010/11, we had multiple centers injured, from Perkins to JO to Shaq and even Semih. Let us not get started on the Perk trade, Shaq’s career-ending Achilles injury and Rondo’s heroic elbow incident. How about Green and Wilcox’s heart surgeries last season? Every season, something just comes out of nowhere and derails the train; such is the impact injuries have on sports teams.
And so it came to be that disaster struck this season. First, Rajon Rondo tore his ACL, depriving the struggling team of its starting point guard. While the team seems to be coping with the situation while riding a three game win streak, his loss to the team is still a fresh and open wound that will surely be felt in the postseason. As if that was not enough, our beloved rookie Jared Sullinger exited the Kings game with back spasms. We were reassured that he would be day-to-day while tests were being done, and the bomb landed the very next day: he was diagnosed as needing immediate lumbar disc surgery, and underwent the operation shortly after.
And just like that – we lost Sully for the remainder of the season.
It is hard to put into words exactly how much Sully means to the team. To the rebounding-deficient Celtics, he has been the team’s best rebounder by far. When he was in the game, you would always see him fighting for every rebound, be they offensive or defensive. He knew when he should be taking it to the basket, and when he should pass it out and not create careless turnovers. In contrary to the new generation of NBA big men, he actually works in the low post. He has great hands that crash the boards and shoot equally well, never forget the silky smooth mid-range shot that could easily be part of a guard’s arsenal. How about the recent fallaway jumpers he made, the ones that remind us so much of The Big Ticket’s bread and butter shot? Let us not forget the Sully who is learning the defensive rotations alongside KG, and the one who does not hesitate to put himself in harm’s way and take a charge for the team.
At this point in the season, we have grown to love Sully’s game, old school as it is. All grit and hustle, something that reminds us of past Celtics, and a seeming successor to the Big Ticket himself. While it’s too early to tell how exactly far he will go on this team, one can only see nothing but great things for a smart (albeit undersized) player who knows his role, does his job to the best of his ability and leaves it all on the floor every single night.
Thank you for this season Sully, our best wishes to a speedy recovery and a return to the court, all decked in green and ready to hustle once more. Let us cheer on for the team to trudge on; battered without its point guard and top rebounder, but ready to fight nonetheless.