Pandemic pause anniversary; Russell’s 49 boards; Potapenko trade

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On this day in Boston Celtics history, the NBA ground to a halt in 2020 as the world came to terms with a growing pandemic. The league canceled games following a positive COVID-19 test by Utah Jazz big man Rudy Gobert.

The Celtics were in Wisconsin to play the Milwaukee Bucks and ended up stranded in Milwaukee while the team was quarantined briefly. They had played the Jazz not long before Gobert’s positive test.

That test set in motion the longest midseason shutdown in league history, throwing the NBA calendar into a disarray that only recently returned to normal. It resulted in the season being finished in a bubble environment at Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex.

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To say it changed the league and its trajectory would be an immense understatement, and it continues reshaping the world we live in, to say nothing of the NBA.


Charles Hoff/NY Daily News via Getty Images

It is also the date Celtics legendary center Bill Russell pulled down an astounding 49 rebounds in a 112-100 win over the Detroit Pistons in a game held in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1965.

The total tied for the third-most boards ever grabbed by a player in a single game, equaling Russell’s previous career high of 49 set in 1957, then a league record for the most overall.


Los Angeles Lakers’ Derek Fisher, center, passes through Boston Celtics’ Milt Palacio, left, and Vitaly Potapenko during the first quarter in Los Angeles Tuesday, March 13, 2001. AP Photo/Michael Caulfield

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Finally, it is also the date that the Cleveland Cavaliers dealt big man Vitaly Potapenko for center Andrew DeClercq and draft assets in 1999.

Potapenko played parts of four seasons with the Celtics, averaging 7.5 points and 5.8 rebounds with the team.

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Story originally appeared on Celtics Wire

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