There are times in a teams history where you question “what could have been” and “what happened if this guy stuck around” and it is filled with maybe’s, what if’s, and questions of decisions by management. Reggie was one of those rare exceptions, he didn’t walk away, he didn’t get traded, nor did he retire. He was take from us.
Reggie was not the greatest to wear green, he should not logically be in the discussion, But if you know a person in their 30s what they think of Reg there is a good chance they will tell you he is one of their favorites.
Reggie could not shoot like Bird, he could run like him though.
He didn’t have McHale’s post game, but he was reminiscent of him in the paint on D at times.
Why did Boston so love Reggie? Why if he is not such a great are his numbers 3-5 hanging in the rafters with Legends of the Garden?
Reggie played the game because he loved basketball, not because he had a God given gift like Kobe.
Reggie played on reserve fuel every night giving it his all.
Reggie was Hope. He was taking the reins from the Legend that was Bird and leading the Celtics into a territory Boston was not prone to seeing, rebuilding.
Watching Reggie play ball gave me that sense that, “Hey we are not a championship cornerstone, but this guy can lead us, he can inspire us past our expectations and maybe… just maybe we can reach the peak.”
Then Reggie collapsed.
Just a quarter into his first playoff game of 1993 Reggie shuffled to a stumble and crumbled to the floor. Doctors said it was over, Reggie said he would prove them wrong and play again. Reggie may have left us without a trophy, but he left Boston with something else, proving that not just stats and rings get you into the rafters.
Love-Desire-Work also put you there
Reggie was not from Boston, he was from Maryland, but he left a legacy that rivaled a life long Bostonian in just 10 years. He was drafter not just because of his hard work at Northeastern, but he also put in hard work at Red Auerbach’s summer camp and made an impression off the court so to say. the court without cameras. Boston took Reggie at 22 in the draft for his game and his heart.
In death Reggie’s memory lives on at the Roxbury Athletic Center just minutes from where he played 4 years of ball at Northeastern.
Would Boston be any different today if Reggie’s never collapsed? Yes, most decidedly it would not be the team we have today.
Reggie died after just 6 seasons, maybe we had another 7 years of Reggie leading the team into the playoffs and probably not getting past the 2nd round. Reggie ma have attracted a free agent or two, but Michael Jordan was stepping into his legacy and the chance Boston was competing with the Bulls is highly unlikely.
Boston would have lost games without the loss of Reggie. He was a hero, he was a leader, he was an inspiration but what he left us in his death was realism.
Celtics fans learned to welcome a player as a star who was not leading them to Finals glory.
Celtics fans for the first time learned what it was like to actually lose something important. Sure we lost others, but never someone so close to our hearts.
Celtics fans were ushered into an utter shambles period that would take a decade to dig out and good basketball won’t be taken for granted like it was in the decades of championships.
Because of Reggie’s loss we actually can appreciate what a true player can lend to a team.
Most unquestionably, Reggie would have been a contributor and an occasional all-star forward. But the era we were approaching would have seen Celtics fans blame Reggie like they blamed Pierce for 5 years. Boston expects so much from it’s basketball starthat it so easily looks not at the other 11 players and weighs it all on one. Maybe we still do have a lot to learn.
In all likelihood Reggie would have played out his contracts with Boston and likely been traded or walked away from the team for a contender like San Antonio or Detroit where he very well might had won a ring or two.
Regardless of what could have been, Reggie Lewis is missed.