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Raptors pay tribute to Bostonians prior to facing Celtics

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The Canadian Press
4/17/2013 8:44:15 PM
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TORONTO, Ontario -- The bright red Toronto Raptors sign that rings the inside of the Air Canada Centre was green for one night Wednesday.

The words read: "Tonight, we are all Boston fans."

The Raptors paid tribute to those whose lives were affected by Monday's marathon bombing in what Toronto coach Dwane Casey called an opportunity "to come together and be one for the city of Boston."

Players from both teams gathered at centre court, and fans stood for a moment of silence before the Celtics tipped off against the Raptors at the Air Canada Centre -- the Celtics' first game since Monday's bombing that killed three people and injured more than 170.

Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline" -- the eighth-inning song played at Boston Red Sox games -- played during the Celtics' pre-game player introductions.

"It's a very unfortunate situation that the city of Boston is going through, and my condolences and our organization's condolences to their city and fans," Casey said. "It's sad when the world is that way, but the good thing about sports is you can hopefully forget evil and bad-doers and come together in sports."

The Celtics, who wore a strip of black on their jerseys, were scheduled to host the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday, but that game was cancelled.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers, who lives near the Boston Marathon finish line, said he "witnessed panic which you never want to see.

"I also witnessed some great things too, I witnessed a lot of people taking charge of their city and I thought that was awesome," Rivers added.

The coach said the events of Monday probably hit 14-year veteran Paul Pierce the hardest since he's played his entire career for the Celtics.

"But I don't think you have to be a basketball player, you don't even have to be from Boston, or from the United States," Rivers said. "When something like that happens, I think it has an affect on everyone, because it threatens our safety and our freedom to gather as a group. That's part of what makes us human is that we do that. When something like that happens, it threatens that. That's the sad part."

Even the Raptors media relations staff paid tribute in their own way. The name cards on press row included a photo of two soldiers reading the memorial messages left at the bombing site, and the hashtag .Boston.

Toronto Raptors Boston Celtics (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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