BOSTON – Michael Gorman and Georges Niang were scheduled to meet on center court at TD Garden on Monday evening.
It would have been one of those moments, idolized on this entertaining meme – “Hey, look at us … Who would have thought? … Not me.”
Once a pair of Methuen buddies – one tall and chubby and the other short and skinny – sharing the big stage, among 16,000 fans screaming in approval for the fantastic duo.
There was a fly in the ointment. Niang, a Philadelphia 76ers forward, tested positive for COVID-19 days earlier and never made the trip.
But that didn’t matter as the real star of the night was Gorman, who was honored as part of the Celtics heartwarming streak before every home game, âHeroes Among Usâ.
And while Niang often gets the âheroâ label, as a professional athlete now in his sixth NBA season, Gorman was the hero of that night.
âI was so disappointed that I couldn’t be there,â Niang said, over the phone from his apartment in Philadelphia. âMike has been my best friend since fourth grade. It kills me to miss this moment. We had two different paths, but how crazy it was that it led us both to the floor of the (TD) Garden.
âHonestly, he deserves all the fame, himself,â Niang said. âWe both started out as great friends who loved hoops. I went to college and the NBA and Mike’s path was that of a humanitarian. He motivates me every day, which he does for people in need.
It was a crazy night on Monday, as Gorman was not only honored, but a donor friend of his donated a sequel to the game for Gorman to bring members of his TMF (The Movement Family) to enjoy the game.
TMF helps everyone
The Movement Family, started by Gorman as a student 10 years ago, is a program designed for anyone looking for âa second family in life,â as he puts it. These can be anyone who is homeless, people involved or who have been involved in drugs, or those in need of support or guidance.
Every Wednesday evening, the TMF group, led by Gorman, hosts a weekly dinner for those struggling with homelessness and drug addiction.
Coincidentally, he got a call from the Boston Celtics saying they wanted to pay tribute to him ahead of the Sixers game on Monday.
“They had no idea I was going to the game anyway, to see Georges (Niang),” Gorman said. âI thought they were calling to confirm the rest. What a coincidence. I love Georges. He is a staunch friend and an incredible support for what we do.
All in all, with the suite’s 18 seats and other tickets he was able to get through his prize, he was able to bring 24 people to the game, all of whom received royal treatment.
âWe had a bus that picked everyone up at 5:30 pm (h30) in Lawrence and then after the game brought everyone back,â Gorman said. âIt was amazing to see everyone enjoying the game and the atmosphere. Some people might take this for granted. Not me. Not our group. It was a night we will never forget.
As for Niang, the Celtics tried to establish a virtual connection with Gorman while he was being honored, eventually handing over the award, which was supposed to happen if he wasn’t positive for the virus.
âWe don’t give people like Mike enough praise,â Niang said. âListen, I appreciate the applause. I work hard in my profession. But Mike is the hero here. I am so proud of him.
Gorman’s work never stops
While Gorman was technically on vacation this week from his job as a counselor at the Methadone Clinic in Lowell, he never takes a vacation from his true passion, which is helping others.
The Movement Family is currently âcelebratingâ the 10 days of Christmas, from December 16 to 25, with a variety of activities for those in need.
Monday’s Celtics game was an event. On Tuesday evening, he led a group of 40 people to see “The Grinch” at Loew’s Theater in Methuen.
âWe came up with three options: Elf, The Grinch, and the National Lampoon Christmas Vacation,â Gorman said. âPersonally, I was hoping they would choose Christmas Vacation, which is a great movie. But he only got three votes, mine and two more. It is therefore the “Grinch”.
Gorman is always on the lookout for people to join TMF, speak at their weekly dinners, or donate to the organization. Call 978-764-6211 or email [email protected]
You can email Bill Burt at [email protected]