If you follow the Celtics, you may have heard about Doc Rivers letting two soldiers from Afghanistan sit in his chairs during a postgame press conference on Wednesday night while the coach stood and answered questions. The gentleman on the right in the photo you see above is Army Sgt. Kevin Paulson. The gentleman on the left is Specialist Jared Ward, who also happens to be one of my closest friends.
Ward and Paulson are on a two-week leave from Afghanistan, where they will be returning this weekend to serve the remainder of their deployment. Both lifelong Celtics fans, the two soldiers decided to write a letter to the Celtics organization in January asking if the team would allow them to present it with an American flag that had flown on a mission in Afghanistan. The Celtics were happy to have the duo, and the next thing Ward and Paulson knew they were watching the game from court-side seats and yucking it up with the Celtics coach.
“We’re lifelong Celtics fans, so we thought it would be cool to present the team with a flag that flew on a mission with us,” Ward explained. “We absolutely couldn’t have imagined the team would do so much for us. It was an amazing night and we had a blast meeting Doc and presenting the flag to the team.”
As Ward mentioned, the two soldiers were given the opportunity to meet and chat with Rivers after the game in his office. When the time came for Doc to head off to his scheduled press conference, he told Ward and Paulson to come along.
“It was amazing to meet Doc since I’ve been a Celtics fan my whole life,” Ward said. “Just sitting in his office with him and basically shooting the bull for a few. When we got called out there I wasn’t sure what to expect. I guess I figured we’d go watch him answer questions and next thing you know we’re on stage and he’s introducing us to everyone. I was shocked, still am really. I cant thank the organization and Doc enough for taking time for us like that.”
I’ve heard on several different occasions before that Rivers is a stand-up guy, but now I have proof. As someone who was best friends with Ward throughout all of high school still today, I know you won’t find a bigger Boston sports fan in New England. Rivers just made the week of someone who is protecting our country so organizations like the NBA can exist. It’s nice to see a class act like Doc acknowledge that and give our soldiers the recognition they deserve.
Picture via the Celtics Twitter accountGoogle+