After a thrilling Game 4 overtime victory in Boston Sunday afternoon, the Celtics survived to push their first round playoff series at least an extra game. Tonight at 7 pm, the Celtics take on the Knicks in what could very well be the final game in a Celtics uniform for Boston lifer Paul Pierce.
“The Truth” was drafted 10th overall by the Celtics in 1998 and after surviving trade requests amidst one of the worst seasons and losing streaks in NBA History, Pierce won a championship in 2008 with the Celtics and, truth is, every one thought he would retire here.
He still might, but tonight may be the last time we see his name on the back of a Boston uniform until it’s inevitably raised to the rafters.
Pierce has lost a few steps in recent years, most notably this year in his age 35 season – especially once point guard Rajon Rondo was lost for the season and Pierce was needed to shoulder the offensive loud. We love Pierce. He’s an All-Time Great Celtic. Every 20-something in New England grew up idolizing not Jordan, but Pierce. He’s the reason I even have half a fade-away in my own retired arsenal on the court, and why I’d rather tip toe through defenders than take spot up threes until the game is on the line. He says he’s not retiring yet, but it doesn’t matter. He may not be a Celtic when camp breaks in the fall.
Celtics GM Danny Ainge said last year he thought the biggest mistake the Celtics made when their original Big 3 of Larry Bird, Robert Parish, and Kevin McHale got old and their careers were winding down was not trading them while the team could still get some sort of value for them, in order to stay competitive going forward. The Celtics went from historic to laughable in a matter of months, and Ainge already has one of the worst teams in NBA history on his resume. He’s claimed he doesn’t want to do it again.
So is this the end? Experts claim Pierce has the most trade value between he and Kevin Garnett. No one really knows what KG is going to do, but he still has two years left on the contract he signed last offseason to return to Boston. Both Players wanted another shot at a title after they took the eventual champion Miami Heat to 7 games in the Eastern Conference Finals. They got it this year, but injuries and age have finally completely caught up to them.
Pierce had this to say earlier today to reporters on whether or not he might get traded this offseason:
“Truthfully, I haven’t put too much thought into it. The organization is going to do what they’re going to do. It’s nothing that’s stressing me out. That’s what it is. Every year they’ve got decision to make. Those are their decisions. I leave it to them.”
When asked about retiring, Pierce assured the media he wasn’t planning on hanging up his Nike’s just yet.
“Right now it’s year-by-year. I expect to play another year next year and then evaluate after that. I always said I wanted to end my career as a Celtic. But they are the ones (with the decision). I have a year contract for next year but it’s not guaranteed so the decision’s in their hands. But whatever decision they make, maybe, if they trade me somewhere or I end up somewhere else maybe it could be a situation where I come back for a one-day deal and retire a Celtic.”
Tonight could very well be the last time we ever see Paul Pierce in a Celtics uniform. Relish it. You’re watching the best Celtic in the last 20 years, and one of the best Celtics of all time, slowly end an incredible career in Boston. You’re watching a Hall of Famer, an NBA Champion, The Truth.
Yes, the Bruins open their playoff series tonight. The Red Sox are playing the Blue Jays on NESN +. But that can wait. Pay your respects, say a prayer, and appreciate one of the best players in NBA History and one of the better Celtics on a list of historic icons before it’s too late.
Paul Pierce is The Truth.
And truth is, we’re gonna miss him.