On a cloudy Friday the 13th in December of 1996, I was summoned to the front office at North Hampton School. As anyone who’s been a 13-year-old New Englander surely knows, this usually didn’t signal “good news.”

I was used to being in trouble, but my heartbeat raced a little when I saw Dad there to greet me. Uh oh. Something’s happened.

“Jon,” he said, in a measured but firm tone – as if rehearsed – “I’m here because I wanted you to hear it from me: Roger Clemens just left the Red Sox.” I think my math teacher, Mr. Schlapak, took it even harder than I did – especially when he heard we lost The Rocket to Canada.

Roger Clemens
Getty Images

But that’s how you break this type of news to your kids in New England, where athletes are the A-list celebrities. Whether it was Orr, Nomar, or Brady, we’ve all been through it.

I had my first go at this difficult ritual with my six-year-old daughter this week. In the same measured, but firm tone I told her that one of her favorite Celtics, Marcus Smart, was on to Memphis.

“Why?” she asked softly, hurt. It took some doing and a few approaches (like explaining he still has a job and home) until she kind of got it. But there’s one Celtics supporter who, according to his biographer, may have thrown a larger tantrum: Red Auerbach.

“Red would love Marcus Smart,” said longtime Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy, who authored the Celtics patriarch’s biography Seeing Red in 1994. “But Red would also really discourage the late-game shots. He’d be like, ‘Marcus, there’s a reason you’re open at the end. They want you to (shoot).

“But,” concluded Shaughnessy when we spoke just prior to the deal, “he’d love Marcus Smart, so I don’t think he’d trade him.”

Ouch. That’s some heavy hindsight for Celtics President Brad Stevens, who traded Smart for 7’3” star Kristaps Porzingis and draft picks. However, Shaughnessy has also noted in the past Auerbach's penchant for upgrading size and talent whenever possible.

It’s a great deal for the Celtics on paper but…this is New England, where fans refer to the teams as “we” and even our biggest movie stars grow attached to players.

Many on social media have referred to Smart as the “heart” of the Celtics – a team that’s made the Eastern Conference Finals five times in seven years without hanging a banner (despite a 2-1 lead in last year’s NBA Finals). So, while many of us may join Red in loving Marcus, perhaps it’s time for a heart transplant.

To hear more on Shaughnessy’s latest book, Wish It Lasted Forever: Life with the Larry Bird Celtics (including his falling-out with Tonight Show actor Bird), why he’s critical of candy salesman Jayson Tatum, and an ominous warning on Jaylen Brown’s friendship with the most hated Celtic of all time, CLICK HERE TO LISTEN to our full interview.

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