Boston Celtics: A fan’s tribute to Paul Pierce

BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 11: Former Boston Celtics player Paul Pierce
BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 11: Former Boston Celtics player Paul Pierce /

The Boston Celtics have had many greats since 1947, when Walter Brown went out of his way to give Boston a basketball team that reflected the city’s greatness and heart.

Boston Celtics great Paul Pierce is in a league of his own. While he isn’t the greatest to ever don the green and white, he was incredibly unique. He played with a personality that embodied the scrappy nature of Boston.

When thinking of Paul’s career, many will think of banner 17. My mission for the day is to shed light on the details that made the former Jayhawk’s legacy legendary. With that being said, let’s get right down to it.

His skill set

I’m going to open this section with a question: what about Pierce’s playing style stood out the most? The answer will 9 times out of 10 be his jump shot. He had one heck of a shot. At times, it seemed he could hit a dagger 3 with his headband around his eyes.

While his shot was truly incredible, let’s dive a little deeper into the The Truth’s vaunted shot. During his career, he would hit clutch shots like they were warmups. While he was screwed out of game winners a time or two *cough against the Hawks in 2015 with the Wizards cough*, he would usually make up for it the next time around. He was one of the most dependable scorers of all time. While he wouldn’t usually put up 30 a night, he would get you a solid 25 on an efficient clip.

Paul Pierce was a player that could score very well, but he was very solid at finding the open man, he was crafty with the ball in his hands. Something that isn’t talked about much was that he was a solid on ball defender. He was competitive, so not letting someone score on him was very important.

What he did for the Celtics

In a draft that was supposed to be a loss for Boston if they didn’t find a way to get Tim Duncan out of Wake Forest, The LA native proved to be one of the best picks in the class. With the 10th pick in the 1998 NBA Draft, the Boston Celtics drafted their cornerstone. Little did they know he would bring them an excellent decade topped with an NBA Championship. Pierce was the light at the end of the dark tunnel that was the 90’s for the franchise.

In 2002, the Boston Celtics were finally putting the puzzle pieces together. Paul Pierce had established himself as the top dog on the team and was leading them to the 3rd seed in the playoffs. Unexpectedly so, the Celtics faced the 1st seed New Jersey Nets in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Celtics lost in 6 games, but it seemed to be a sign of things to come in Boston.

Over the next 5 years, things seemed to be going up and down with Pierce’s team. Paul continued to improve and play excellent, while some teammates came down hurt and many trades were being made. Doc Rivers ended up becoming head coach. Rajon Rondo came to town shortly after.

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Following the 2006-07 season, Danny Ainge decided to surround his franchise player with some more talent, trading for Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. When the season came around, everyone around the NBA just seemed to know that the new look Celtics were going to separate themselves from the rest. And that they did.

The championship and the years after

The Celtics went 66-16 that year, beating Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers in 6 games to win their 17th NBA Championship. The years following would be much less glamorous. 2009 was a year riddled with injuries. 2010 resulted in a loss in the Finals to Kobe and the Lakers. 2011 was a step back from the previous campaign, and 2012 was a great season that ended with Lebron James showing that the Heat had officially surpassed the Boston Celtics in the East.

After getting swept in the first round by the New York Knicks in 2013, Paul Pierce impacted Boston in a different way, by giving them a successful future. Boston traded him, Garnett, Jason Terry, and DJ White to the Brooklyn Nets for a boat load of picks and role players. The trade paved the way for the Kyrie-led Celtics of today. Without that trade, The C’s would be struggling the same way the Nets are now.

Next: Boston Celtics: 3 greatest games of Paul Pierce’s career in green

Paul Pierce was the key piece of the Celtics’ success in the 2000’s, and has now proven that he helped them succeed well into the 2010’s. So on behalf of all of the Celtics nation, I say thank you, Paul. You represented everything a Bostonian could want in a basketball player. And now, number 34 is in the rafters with the likes of many legends because of it.