It’s fairly common that trades happen and resolve early on in every season, meaning that reunions start occurring with more or less regular consistency when the new year finally rolls around. Often, they’re as awkward as seeing your ex, but there’s always a great story involved. Here are some of the most heartwarming, interesting and hilarious reunions we’ve seen thus far.
The emotional encounter: Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and the rest of Boston
KG and Paul Pierce, both former Celtics, returned to the TD Bank Garden for the first time Jan. 26, 2014, in what could only have been described as an emotional night. The Garden paid tribute to the players, currently playing for the Brooklyn Nets, with separate videos highlighting their best Boston moments. Of course, former Celtics teammates and even Doc Rivers took part in the festivities, temporarily putting aside competition (at least during time outs) to honour the duo’s achievements. Paul Pierce and KG played 15 and six season on the team, respectively, although Garnett won a title in 2008. The move reportedly had a motivating effect on Boston’s rookies. Although Garnett and Pierce did take part in a Nets/Celtics preseason matchup, both appeared to sidestep visiting the Garden until then.
The funny one: Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo
Sure, the reunion between KG and Boston involved a range of emotions, but on the court, things got a lot, lot less serious when the Brooklyn player came head to head with the Celtics’ Rajon Rondo. Or, more accurately, head to chest. KG nuzzled his former teammates’ chest, causing Rondo to have a bit of a chuckle and raise his fist in retaliation. They share a storied past, with KG often referring to Rondo as his “little brother.” It was perfect timing for Rondo to return from an ACL injury, allowing for this heartwarming scene to unfold.
The awkward one: Luol Deng and the Chicago Bulls
Luol Deng of the Cavaliers announced that he’d be hanging out with his former squaddies after the conclusion of his team’s game with the Chicago Bulls Jan. 22, 2014 — however, he also made sure to add that he’s really, totally over the Bulls out on the court. Suure. Deng played nine season for the Bulls until he was traded for Andrew Bynum earlier in January, making this his first time back. The sentiment was echoed by former coach Tom Thibodeau, who called Deng his “brother,” and Taj Gibson, who was reportedly still “not over it.” Now, Deng is saying he would consider coming back. Taylor Swift couldn’t have written it better herself.
The throw (way, way) back: Pau Gasol and Kendall Marshall
Reunions that pit former teammates against each other may make for some great NBA storylines, but a little bit of digging surfaces other interesting narratives. It turns out that Los Angeles Lakers power forward Pau Gasol had already been acquainted with the team’s new D-League acquisition, 22-year-old Kendall Marshall. The two had met 11 years ago prior during the 2003 NBA All-Star weekend in Atlanta. Marshall posted a photo that had been taken of him with Gasol to his Instagram account, showing the young player (barely 11-years-old at the time) with a surprisingly less scruffy Gasol, who was then the same age Marshall is now. Marshall regularly took photo ops with pros as a kid, but sometimes the NBA has a funny way of coming full circle.