The Celtics, some of whom knew and grew close to Clarke in recent years, were further along than usual in their pregame routine because Thursday’s game started at 7 p.m. Most begin 30 minutes later in Boston, so they played the game free from even the early online speculation regarding Clarke’s death, and scored a 99-86 victory of the Suns.
“Ever since he was in high school, was one of the main players I wanted to watch and take things from his game,” Clarke told the Boston Globe in 2019. Coby White told a similar story of Clarke approaching him at a camp to ask about life in the NBA. Clarke thought about every aspect of making himself a professional, the physical and mental, around the time Brown and Tatum made their first Eastern Conference Finals trip together. The league could allow it to happen posthumously by creating an extra draft pick to not only acknowledge the work Clarke had nearly completed to get drafted, but to empower Clarke’s family financially, with the ability to pass it onto the community like he planned to.