Horace Grant played for 17 years in the NBA. Grant recently joined Bill Littlefield on Only A Game to talk about his career and playing with Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Shaquille O'Neal.
During the NBA playoffs in 1995, Grant scored the last official basket in the old Boston Garden before the building was closed. (It was demolished a few years later.) But that was not the final basket made from Garden's parquet floor. That moment happened a couple of weeks later. Bill and OAG Senior Producer Gary Waleik were there. This is Gary's account of the moment.
The firing of a professional head coach is not unusual. It is unusual when the skippers of two pro teams from the same city get fired on the same day, which is what happened in Boston on May 18, 1995.
The Boston Celtics posted a dismal 35 and 47 record in the 1994-95 NBA season. They somehow made the playoffs, but were eliminated in the first round. That was the end for five-year head coach Chris Ford.
The Bruins, under head coach Brian Sutter, had also exited in the first round of the postseason, after which Sutter was given the axe.
Those developments hardly seemed like the proper way to say goodbye to the fabled Boston Garden, which would soon be replaced by a brand new arena next door.
But those developments turned out to be a good thing for Bill Littlefield, and for me. We were at the old Garden for the press conferences of both coaches. Waiting in a hallway during a break between their respective farewells, we could hear the members of the bull gang removing sections of the parquet floor for the final time. We suddenly realized that between the bangs and crashes of that work, we were also hearing a bouncing a basketball.
The guy with the ball was a Celtics beat writer. He'd occupied some of the last few sections of the floor, and he was shooting baskets. He gestured for us to join him, and I bolted down the aisle like a popcorn vendor spotting a hungry family of 10. Bill ambled after me, and soon we were under the hoop. Before the rest of the floor and the hoop itself could be torn from the hallowed building, we scored.
I couldn’t believe our good fortune. Here we were on the parquet, sinking shots in the same spot as Russell and other hoops heroes: Bob Cousy, Cedric Maxwell, Larry Bird and Tiny Archibald. And we would be among the last people to do that.
My recollection is that I tossed in the last bucket, a windmill dunk that would have left the crowd gasping, had there been a crowd. [Editor's note: Gary Waleik's windmill dunks live only on the highlight reel of his imagination.] Bill probably has it right when he says he remembers the final hoop was his humble lay-up.
In either case, Horace Grant was not there. The record says he scored the last official bucket in the old Garden a couple of weeks earlier, on May 5, 1995. Sure … but I'd like to have seen him do it under pressure, while half a dozen guys were tearing up the floor.