Dear Kevin Garnett,
It wasn't until Game 4—when ABC announcers Mike Breen and Jeff Van Gundy repeatedly referred to the fact that it could be the last game of your career—that I realized a great era could be coming to a close.
I also realized that I'm not ready for this yet. I haven't braced myself for a league without KG. Who will carry the torch of hard-nosed '90s basketball? And who will help Paul Pierce fill the rookies' cars with popcorn?
Ultimately, I guess I should've seen this coming.
You've been so cryptic lately. Like when you oddly proclaimed this year was "definitely" your last All-Star game. And when Celtics blogger Ben Rohrbach asked you why you would say that, you just said, "Y'all don't know what I know."
What is that even supposed to mean? Why are you keeping secrets from us? Are you leaving us? Why are you doing this to us? We'll do anything you say!
We'll let you hook arms with opposing bigs to draw fouls. We won't call all those moving screens you set. You can stay home for road trips if you want.
And don't worry about that pushover, Danny Ainge. He'll be cool with it. Pat Riley tore him a new one, and he just sat there grooving on it (via Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.com).
We'll do anything—just don't leave us. We know you can be a jerk sometimes, but we love that about you.
I'm sorry about getting a little emotional there, but it's all coming so suddenly.
After all, you're still dominating against elite competition. Let me just refresh your memory about the current series with the New York Knicks.
Faced with Tyson Chandler, Kenyon Martin and Carmelo Anthony, you've pulled down 54 rebounds through four games, with 33 of those in Games 3 and 4.
It seems like you're getting even better as the series wears on. In Sunday's must-win tilt, you led the C's to a huge overtime win, scoring 13 points on 5-of-7 from the field, plus 17 boards, six assists, a steal, a block and a team-high plus-16 rating.
Need I remind you that you finished the season with a higher player efficiency rating than Tyson Chandler, Larry Sanders, Joakim Noah and Roy Hibbert?
Just play out the two years left on your contract, collect the $24 million and impart all your wisdom onto Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo.
Plus, it's not just us fans—the league needs you. Can you imagine how bad it'll get if you leave?
The twilight of Tim Duncan's career is upon us. Who knows how much longer Kobe Bryant will play? Dirk Nowitzki, Pau Gasol, Manu Ginobili and Steve Nash will all be gone in two or three years. Go out in that glorious wave, not now.
The Eastern Conference also needs more time to groom its young frontcourt stars. Tristan Thompson, Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe, Larry Sanders, Nikola Vucevic and Jonas Valanciunas need another year at least before assuming the next generation of frontcourt dominance in the East.
So give it time. I don't want to live in a world where Amir Johnson could make the All-Star team; although I guess you "definitely" won't take up another All-Star spot anyway.
And why would you deprive us of your unique jocularity? For the record, I found your spat with Carmelo this year to be more bemusing than anything else. Plus, remember how Rajon Rondo stuck up for you?
You can retire someday soon. Just give us a victory lap first. One last run at a title with Pierce and Rondo is all Boston asks. Please?
You don't even have to play out your entire contract if you don't want to. Just play for one more season. Think of all the video tributes during away games. And that last game you play at the Minnesota Timberwolves will be incredible!
Not to mention, Boston could really use that extra $12 million in the 2014 offseason. So that's it, one more year for a victory lap—and so Ainge can get the Celtics' house in order—then you can go.
But whatever you do, don't retire and then try to come back.
Don't retire until you're sure you can stay retired. It's really annoying when a superstar can't make up his mind about whether or not to walk away for good. It's fine for someone like Rasheed Wallace, but it wouldn't suit you.
You're classier than Brett Favre and Roger Clemens put together (which admittedly isn't saying much). And you don't want to go out like Michael Jordan with the Washington Wizards.
Of course, you can do whatever you want. But know that you're too good to hang it up now. Don't you want to give everything you have left in the tank?
I'll leave you with the enduring words of Basshunter: "Please don't go. Don't go. Don't go away. Please don't go. Don't go. I'm begging you to stay."
Sean Hojnacki, ardent fan of '90s-style basketball, an increasingly rare commodity
P.S.—In the interest of full disclosure, I'm a Knicks fan. Though I don't particularly like you or think that you're a nice person, I have tremendous respect for your body of work and the place you'll eventually occupy in NBA history.