Paul Pierce – 12 Years Later

I never quite thought it would come to this, but Paul Pierce’s recent decision to opt out of the final year of his contract with the Celtics and become a free agent could spell the end of his majestic career in Boston.

I grew up watching Pierce and he was a Celtic in every sense of the world, right there with legends like Larry Bird, Bill Russell, and Red Auerbach. He will go down in history as one of the best to overplay the game and, although he was overshadowed in his generation by the likes of Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, and Allen Iverson, he is still a lock to one day join that triumvirate in the basketball Hall of Fame.

Let’s take a trip down Memory Lane and see just what Pierce has accomplished in his 12 years in Boston.

Pierce was drafted 10th overall out of Kansas in the 1998 NBA draft  (Vinca Carter – 5th, Dirk Nowitzki – 9th). He joined a mediocre Celtics team that also featured, at the time, star forward Antoine Walker. In 2002 the pair made an improbable run to the Eastern Conference Finals, including a Game 5 win against the New Jersey Nets that is still today the greatest 4th-quarter comeback in NBA playoffs history.

The out-of-shape Walker was jettisoned soon thereafter and Pierce had to endure several years as the team’s only go-to player on an, at best, mediocre squad. Then after a 2006-07 season in which the Celtics went an embarrassing 24-58, Pierce was finally gifted with a couple of capable sidekicks in Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen by Celtics general manager, Danny Ainge.

The Big Three, as they would come to be known, won an NBA championship in their first season together with Pierce leading the way – playing LeBron James to a stalemate and making Kobe Bryant look human as he cruised to a Finals MVP award. The team made two more runs but fell short each time. And now, Pierce may have played his final game as a Celtic.

It’s rare for one player to spend most of his career with a single team, and 12 years is a loooong time. If there’s any doubt about what Pierce means to his teammates and to the city of Boston, consider this. In 2000, Pierce was stabbed 11 times in the face, neck, and back in a Boston nightclub. He was on the verge of dying and had to be rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery. The next season, Pierce was the only Celtic to start all 82 games.

The man is a WARRIOR. Off the court he runs a charitable foundation called The Truth Fund, which helps support children from the greater Boston area and California inner cities by keeping them out of gangs. On the court he is the team’s captain, emotional leader, and go-to crunch time scorer.

Now, barring an act of unexpected generosity in signing a contract below max value, Pierce will likely be gone (look for the LA Clippers to scoop him up – he’s from the area and they need a veteran presence). He will pass the torch to Rajon Rondo, the next Celtics star, and finish his playing days somewhere else. Paul, it’s been a hell of a ride. Thank you.

#34 Paul Pierce

Career Stats

12 seasons, 8-time NBA All-Star, 3-time All-NBA Third Team, 1-time All-NBA Second Team

18.3 PPG, 4.4 RBP, 3.1 APG

45 FG%, 37 3P%, 80 FT%

1 NBA Finals MVP

1 NBA Championship

1 Legacy – “The Truth”

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5 Responses to Paul Pierce – 12 Years Later

  1. dioselev says:

    I published this just before news was released that Doc Rivers will be returning to coach the Celtics next season. Apparently, this means Pierce is likely to stay. I’ll provide details once I figure them out.

  2. dioselev says:

    I rescind my previous statement. Pierce resigns with the Celtics for 4 years at $61 million (well below market value). The Truth strikes again!

    http://www.celticsblog.com/2010/7/2/1549050/pierce-re-signs#storyjump

  3. Max says:

    You think Pierce’s marketvalue is well above 60 million? lol

    • dioselev says:

      Well the thing about “market value”, rather than “true value”, is that it’s how much other teams are willing to pay him. He definitely had larger offers on the table, especially since so many teams have a surplus of cap room with LeBron, Wade, and Bosh all going to Miami and most other major free agents resigning with their former teams. Thanks for the comments and keep reading! I’ve been on hiatus for a little while but will be posting a lot of content in the next few days.

  4. Max says:

    Wasn’t trying to be trollish….like the site otherwise

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