Just checking in to offer my congratulations on the great start to the season. You have no idea how happy your and your teammates' efforts are making Celtics fans all over the globe. It has been a magical first 39 games for all of us that have the privilege of following this team -- especially for those who stuck with this group through its darkest times, memories of which I'm sure are all too vivid for you.
Of particular enjoyment for virtually all who have watched you over the years has been your apparent maturation on this team. The added defensive effort, the more team-oriented offensive play, the consistently exemplary conduct: it has all been a joy to watch. It has been wonderful vindication for all those who believed in you throughout, and for those C's fans who had their doubts, it has been a pleasure to be able to begin to push those worries to the side. Your efforts have most certainly not gone unnoticed.
But that effort has to come every time out. Not just the effort to get up and down the floor and put the ball in the hoop, but the effort to remain in control of yourself as well. And what happened in New York yesterday cannot continue to happen going forward.
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It doesn't matter that Quentin Richardson was making a jerk of himself (for the record, he certainly appeared to be doing so). It doesn't matter that Q-Rich started it or that he perpetuated the problem. It doesn't matter that all you were doing was trying to get him to put a lid on it.
You know why?
Because in the score books, there isn't any notation for "guy who started it" and "guy who finished it." There are, however, spaces for technical fouls and ejections. As you are no doubt well aware, you obtained two of the former and one of the latter yesterday in New York.
You were thrown out for taking the natural human course of action, to react to your adversary. I recognize that. I recognize that you didn't do anything that different from what a lot of folks would have done in your position.
But see, here's the thing: You aren't 'a lot of folks.' You are Paul Pierce. You are a star in this league. You are the one playing for a team that is looking to contend for a championship. You are the one on your own individual mission to prove the doubters wrong.
Quentin Richardson isn't any of those things. He isn't half the player you are, and not for the first time this season with regard to the Celtics, he made himself look like a thuggish fool with his words and actions.
But in his personal match-up with you yesterday, the thuggish fool won, and you were fortunate that your teammates were able to keep the situation under control and win the game.
The thuggish fool got you to conform to his standards of behavior, and that right there is the crux of the problem.
Again, Quentin Richardson isn't Paul Pierce and never will be. You are. So, fair or not, the rules are different for you, especially these days. It isn't good enough for Paul Pierce to simply reciprocate Quentin Richardson's actions and leave it at that. Because if the Knicks lose Quentin Richardson and the Celtics lose Paul Pierce, the Knicks win that trade in a walk. That is a tribute to your worth as a basketball player.
But that worth will only truly mean so much if you can't consistently manage do what you have to do in these situations: bite your lip and walk away.
Because Quentin Richardson isn't the first inferior player to work to get in your head, and more significantly, he certainly won't be the last. Because firing back and getting into the heads of inferior players in return doesn't even the score; it lowers you to their level. Because every time you lose your cool, it only adds fire to all those who don't believe that you have matured as much as it appears you have over these last couple of seasons. Because this team cannot afford to lose you with any regularity.
Paul, your reaction yesterday was a human one, and it is not at all difficult to see where it came from. In some regards, your heart was in the right place.
But as a star in this team, your head has to take precedence. That is just the way it is.
Ultimately, I hope I'm making something out of nothing. Certainly, it could be the case that yesterday was the one time over an 82-game season that you will succumb to emotion in any sort of incident like that. I'll be as thrilled as the next guy if I'm ringing a false alarm here. But on a team that has one man tied for the league lead in technical fouls (yesterday's stud, Kendrick Perkins) and two guys tied for fifth (you and KG), sights like yesterday's make me a tad nervous.
Perhaps more than just about anyone else, you, Paul, have made tremendous progress thus far this season. It has been a pleasure to witness, and I look forward to that trend continuing in the days to come.
It would simply be a shame to see all that work go to waste. Thus, I bear this letter of caution.
You're come a long way. Stay poised, and you will have no trouble continuing along that road. And know that we're watching and rooting for you every step of the way.
In the meantime, we'll keep getting amped for banner seventeen.