It’s a bitter/sweet day as Paul Pierce signs a contract with the Boston Celtics so he can officially retire from the game of basketball as a Celtic. Bitter because it’s sad to see Pierce walk away from the game (although it is time). And sweet because he will always be remembered as a true Celtic. Even though it’s been since 2013 that The Truth hasn’t been a member of the Celtics, it’s always weird to see him in a different uniform. Pierce was my favorite player growing up, and like many other Celtics fans, I would’ve liked to see Pierce be a lifer and spend his entire career in Boston. He loved the city and the city loved him. But obviously everyone knows how much the Celtics got back in the Pierce and Kevin Garnett blockbuster deal with the Nets, screwing the future of the Nets’ franchise, while securing the future of their own, so there isn’t any room to complain about Danny Ainge dealing him. Regardless, it was tough to see Pierce hold up a Nets jersey in his welcoming press conference, after seeing him in Celtics green for 15 seasons.
Pierce was selected by the Celtics with the 10th pick in the 1998 draft and immediately impacted the entire organization. Pierce played for the Celtics for 15 seasons, which included a ton of achievements. He was All-Rookie in the 1998-99 season, a 10-time all-star, 4-time All-NBA and most importantly a CHAMPION in 2008, where he was also named Finals MVP, bringing the Celtics their 17th trophy.
In his 15-year Hall of Fame career with the Celtics, Pierce averaged 21.8 PPG, 6 RPG and 3.9 APG. Pierce is all over the all-time Celtics leaderboards as well, being in the top-10 of games, minutes played, 2-point field goals, 3-point field goals, free throws, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, and oh yeah, he’s second in all-time points for the Celtics with 24,021. All these all-time accomplishments are more impressive when you know the success of the Celtics franchise and know how many amazing players have worn green playing in the Garden. And his 26,397 total points in his 19-year career is good enough for Pierce to be 18th on the NBA/ABA all-time leading scorers list.
Seeing Paul Pierce today back in green with the #34 on, which will never be worn again by any Celtics player, was just awesome. Co-owner of the Celtics, Wyc Grousbeck spoke about Pierce after the contract signing, saying, “We’re honored that Paul has chosen to retire as a Celtic. He is among the very best Celtics … A champion on and off the court.”
Pierce also had great words to say, “It’s an honor to have this opportunity to once again call myself a Boston Celtic … The organization and city took me in and made me one of their own, and I couldn’t imagine ending my career any other way. I’m a Celtic for life.”
When Pierce got traded in 2013, the hope from Celtics fans and the entire organization was that he would come back to Boston in order to retire as a Celtic, so having him do that and recognize how much Celtics fans looked up to him as a player and person is great for the Celtics community.
Not only did Pierce sign his contract today, he also suited up in Boston Basketball gear, and got shots up in the Celtics practice facility, almost like he never left. How about instead of a 1-day contract, Pierce signs a 1-year deal and mentors this team and also gives the Celtics fans one more year to see him in a Celtics uniform? That obviously won’t happen but it’d be amazing.
What’s next for Pierce? When Paul left Boston, I always said he’d come back and be an important part of their organization, either in the coaching staff or front office. Maybe I was just desperately hoping his Celtics career wouldn’t just be his playing and he’d continue to contribute to this legendary organization. My hope was for Pierce to one day coach the Celtics, I always thought his leadership was one of his strongest traits, and in my mind he had the mentality and makeup as an NBA coach. Since Brad Stevens has come in and coached this team to success and done a great job doing so, there isn’t a head coaching vacancy on this team, but maybe in the future he’ll step in as an assistant coach or help out the front office. I can’t imagine someone who loves the game of basketball as much as Pierce does, along with how big a competitor he is, that he’ll just completely walk away. Yeah, he’ll take some time off with his family and enjoy retirement for a little while, but come on, you gotta think he’ll be back contributing to the Celtics organization in some way.
With Pierce signing this 1-day contract, he will retire from the NBA as a Celtic. The Hall of Famer will have his No. 34 retired and hanging from the crowded rafters of the Garden. When the jersey retirement night happens, there will be a sold out, emotional crowd who will be giving a loud standing ovation for The Truth, as they chant his name as his legacy is being celebrated. 34ever.