BOSTON -- It will always be a bit strange for Kevin Garnett to come back to TD Garden, but something felt particularly odd about Friday's visit. Each time Garnett returns, there are fewer familiar faces on the other side of the court. In the aftermath of last week's trade that delivered Rajon Rondo to the Dallas Mavericks, the Boston Celtics are now completely devoid of members of the 2008 championship squad.
"I've been getting a lot of 'Rest in peace' texts and stuff, so I had to change my number," Garnett joked after his Brooklyn Nets rallied for a 109-107 triumph in a Friday matinee. "It's all good, though. We're infinite. Once you win once, you win forever."
Garnett will always be a Celtic and the 2008 title ensured that legacy. The trade that sent him and Paul Pierce to Brooklyn just 17 months ago started a roster overhaul, which continued with the surprising early-season Rondo deal. Garnett found joy Friday in seeing other familiar faces, whether it was Celtics support staff or the fans who showered him with an ovation when he was introduced as part of the visitor's lineup.
Before the game's opening tip, Garnett skipped toward the stanchion in front of the Boston bench, just like he did during six seasons here, and saluted the crowd beyond the basket before waving to each side of TD Garden.
"It's always love here," said Garnett. "It's always an appreciation that I can never give back, other than the salute. Winning is infinite. And I'll always have that special relationship with this city."
Celtics fans might have given the 38-year-old Garnett a little extra salute while wondering if Friday's contest would mark the final visit of his playing days.
Garnett admitted the future is uncertain but said he takes each season as it comes. He'll assess his playing career after the 2014-15 season ends. But that's not to say the thought about this being his final trip didn't cross his mind.
"At this stage it's always somewhere lurking in the back, probably whether I admit it or not," said Garnett. "But, if I'm being truthful with you, sometimes [I do think about it]. Seeing Paul [Pierce] the other day, he was in town to play the Knicks and we had a conversation. So, at this stage, we know that things are not taken for granted, but more appreciated. It crosses [my mind], I wouldn't lie about that."