BOSTON -- Some casual observers were surprised to see Leon Powe representing the Boston Celtics and their 2008 title team as part of the Red Sox' Opening Day festivities on Friday at Fenway Park. Not Celtics fans. Powe, although a mere supporting member of that championship team, had big moments (hint: Game 2 of the NBA Finals) and, like much of that title squad, is beloved for his part in raising Banner 17.
So it was no surprise that Powe was showered with love when he appeared at TD Garden on Friday night and watched these transitioning Celtics fall to the Philadelphia 76ers.
"It’s home, it’s family," said Powe. "I love Boston and I know they love me. We had a lot of special moments together and that’s why I love coming here."
Powe joined other alums from Boston's recent title teams -- none of whom were active players, for those clamoring for a Rajon Rondo cameo -- and held the Larry O'Brien trophy aloft before a first-pitch ceremony involving Boston Mayors present (Marty Walsh) and past (Thomas Menino) and representing the victims of Marathon bombings.
"It felt great," said Powe. "I wanted to represent my teammates and represent the Celtics organization well. I felt I did that. And just representing the victims from the Marathon and talking to them, it was a blessing. Their spirits are up and everything is going good. So I was happy today, everything went well."
Powe, acquired in a 2006 draft-night swap with the Denver Nuggets, averaged 6.6 points and 4.2 rebounds over three seasons with the Celtics. During the 2008 title season, Powe averaged 5 points and 2.7 rebounds over 11.7 minutes per game while appearing in 23 games (including one start).
Powe, beset by injuries throughout his career, including major surgeries on his knees that have hindered him since he was a top high school recruit, hasn't played an NBA game since splitting time between Cleveland and Memphis during the 2010-11 campaign. Still only 30 years old, Powe made a couple attempts at a return to the NBA in recent years, but said that's on the back-burner at the moment. Despite making only $3.7 million during his pro career, Powe said he's exploring the idea of owning an NBA team.
"I wasn’t able to explode like I wanted to [during his comeback attempts]," explained Powe. "Before I do anything further, I have to go get checked out by one of my doctors. I know that’s behind me because injuries do happen. My body could be like, ‘Oh, OK, now you’re nicely healed, and you can do some good things out there’ but right now, it’s on the back-burner. I'm just trying to focus on the business side of stuff and I’ve been working on my company and working on trying to put together an ownership group, an investment group to own an NBA team. I’ve been doing research, I’ve got a couple groups with me right now. But I want to be majority owner as far as ownership, so I’m trying to make sure my side is good, too."
Powe invaded the Celtics' locker room before Friday's game and shared a moment with former teammate Rajon Rondo. He sat courtside and signed autographs for a steady stream of fans throughout the night. Powe still might not remain a household name from the Big Three era (and Phil Jackson probably still calls him 'Pow'), but Powe is still clearly loved inside the Garden.