The Celtics stories I loved writing in 2017

Happy New Year! These are the Celtics stories I most enjoyed telling in 2017 — a year as eventful as I can remember, bridging two likable rosters, both led by a coach who will be remembered as one of the best in franchise history.

April 21: Overpaid and underappreciated: Boston’s Al Horford conundrum

Criticism of Horford was never more prevalent than when the Celtics trailed the Bulls 0-2 in the first round of the 2017 playoffs, so I tried my best to explain why the “Average Al” label is ridiculous, and the lesson still applies.

May 2: Isaiah Thomas wrote his Celtics masterpiece

In one of the most memorable games I’ve ever seen, Thomas scored 53 points in victory with a busted jaw on his sister’s 23rd birthday, two weeks after her death and three days after delivering the eulogy at her funeral.

May 16: Kelly Olynyk, of all people, sends the C’s to the conference finals

Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals — the time “a 7-foot hippy” with a man bun etched his name in Celtics lore — was one wild night.

July 7: Avery Bradley became a salary cap casualty, and that’s a bummer

Bradley was one of my favorite Celtics of this century, and here’s why.

July 31: How the KG trade still benefits the Celtics on its 10th anniversary

On the 10th anniversary of the Kevin Garnett trade, I talked to Danny Ainge about what KG meant to the C’s and how he resurrected the organization.

Aug. 18: 25 years after Larry Bird’s retirement

I spoke to Bird’s 1986 Celtics teammates Bill Walton, Kevin McHale and Rick Carlisle about what made Larry Legend so special and why he still would be a quarter-century later. Walton, in particular, was a delight. All I had to do was mention Bird’s name and not interrupt as he held court for half an hour.

Aug. 22: How the East was won: Kyrie, LeBron and a conference reborn

Making sense of the Isaiah Thomas trade. Related:

The Kyrie-IT trade: What went wrong and where we stand

Kyrie, IT, alternate timelines and the impossibility of grading the trade

I will miss IT, but man, Kyrie is fun to watch, too.

Nov. 3: The making of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum

I can’t remember the last time the Celtics had two young players with this much potential at the same time. Bird and McHale? I wanted to find out how we got to the point where this is the comparisons we’re already making.

Nov. 30: The evolution of Al Horford is complete

I talked to Al about transforming his game, adjusting to a new system and his new training regimen — all of which has him playing his best basketball.

Cheers to making 2018 even better. Happy New Year!

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