We got our hopes up when Al Horford signed with the Celtics, and we saw that photo of Tom Brady hanging with Kevin Durant and assorted Celtics in the Hamptons.
Then came recruiting pitches from David Ortiz and Julian Edelman. The impossible suddenly seemed possible, and we allowed ourselves to believe that the Celtics might actually land the greatest free agent in franchise history. The Internet exploded with multiple reports of Durant signing with Boston. Hoaxes ruled. We did not know what to believe as we checked our Twitter feeds and held our breath. And after two years of waiting for Wyc Grousbeck’s “fireworks,’’ it was all going to come down on the Fourth of July.
And then, just before lunch time Monday, Durant made his announcement on Derek Jeter’s The Players’ Tribune. Durant told the world that he will be joining the 73-win Golden State Warriors.
Which meant that the Boston fireworks on Independence Day would be orchestrated by Keith Lockhart instead of Danny Ainge.
Oh well. It was a fun couple of days as we imagined a Celtics team led by Durant, Horford, and Isaiah Thomas in the NBA Finals. It was going to be the third edition of the Big Three. Banner No. 18 was on order.
Durant’s move to the Warriors is a seismic, national sports story. It’s almost as big as LeBron James’s despicable “Decision” six years ago. The Warriors now have Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Kevin Durant (and still only one basketball). They are the new Basketball Beatles. It is a hideous assemblage of talent and the Warriors just became prohibitive favorites to win it all next year. What will they do during the regular season? Are they going to win 75 games?
Early in the Reagan administration, there was a nuclear warhead strategy proposal that involved bunching silos that contained intercontinental ballistic missiles. The strategy, never implemented, was labeled, “Dense Pack.’’ The 2016 Warriors just became the NBA’s Dense Pack. That is the story line in New York, Chicago, and the rest of NBA Nation.
Not here in Boston. It’s always about us, remember?
While Celtics fans cry in their green beer, try to imagine how this is playing in the land of the Thunder. They had Durant for nine seasons, including Durant’s rookie year when they were still in Seattle. They dominated the Warriors in the first four games of the conference finals this spring and held a 3-1 series lead before they unraveled in spectacular fashion. Fans in Oklahoma loved Durant and he loved them back. The Thunder were able to pay him the most money. And he just bolted for the team that beat them in the conference finals, the team that won the most games in the history of the NBA.
The Globe’s Gary Washburn noted, “I would presume there are a lot of people in Seattle snickering right now.’’
Hope folks don’t burn Durant jerseys on the streets of Oklahoma City. Thunder management quickly issued a statement dripping with class and dignity, something we did not see in Cleveland when LeBron left for Miami.
Fans of the Clippers, Heat, and Spurs are also no doubt disappointed, but something tells me none of those folks got their hopes up the way we did here in Boston. The Heat and Spurs did not have the power of Tom Brady’s persuasion. They did not have Big Papi’s support. I doubt they had as many phony stories claiming Durant had made his decision to join their team.
For two fun days, we took the plunge here in Boston. After we saw that photo of TB and KD in the Hamptons, something that started out as a pipe dream became something that we actually thought might happen.
Anything’s possible. That’s what Kevin Garnett told us eight years ago.
Who says no to Tom Brady? We had the ultimate recruiting tool.
Durant said no. And the Celtics will now get back to work, building around Al Horford and Isaiah Thomas, and hoping next year’s Nets pick brings them a transformative player. They have a chance to be good. But not great.
It was fun while it lasted.
Related: Reaction to Kevin Durant’s decision
Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @Dan_Shaughnessy.