On Sunday, after a double-overtime win over the Miami Heat, Boston Celtics star Paul Pierce learned of Rajon Rondo's season-ending injury on live television. The expression that crossed his face, and the "Oh my God" he muttered as a first reaction, was what it looks like when a great team's present and future come crumbling down.
This is the end for the Boston Celtics as we know them and as we have known them since their own version of the Big Three came together in 2007 and promptly won an NBA championship.
This year's incarnation of that team, one minus Ray Allen but still with Rondo, Pierce, Kevin Garnett and some intriguing pieces around them, seemed to many still capable of wreaking havoc come the playoffs. Despite their early-season doldrums, the thinking in some Eastern Conference front offices went like this: Boston would eventually gel, the conference would remain weak and with Rondo at the helm the Celtics might eventually be, if not great, at least very formidable.