Bent discusses Paul Pierce's journey, up to now and in the future....
When looking back over the career of Paul Pierce, one cannot help but to look upon it as a journey. Since being drafted as a young kid from Kansas in 1998, Paul has had to prove many things to many people, including himself. Having fallen to tenth in the draft, mainly because of concerns over his attitude, Paul's toughest challenge has been to develop into a mature, selfless and respected leader and whilst he has come a long way, these concerns persist and there is still a lot of work to be done.
What a perfect tale it would be if Paul, having already overcome so much, could realise his ultimate goal and lead the Celtics back to where they should be at the pinnacle of the NBA. Whilst he has always had the talent, that has only got him so far. As he matures, Paul must realise that in order to make your dreams come true, you have to go that much further.
He proved that teams were wrong to pass him by in the draft. He proved he could become an all-star. He battled back from an horrific knife attack. He proved he could get the Celtics to the postseason. He stuck to his job while all around him were losing theirs. He has overcome countless hurdles along the way.
It hasn't been an easy journey. There have been setbacks along the way. Sometimes talent alone is not going to get the job done. Pierce was almost able to single-handedly get gold for the USA at the World Championships a few years back, but came up short and came under fire. His biggest mistake was that he tried to do it alone. Meanwhile, at the Olympics, almost everyone underperformed and what criticism there was died down a lot quicker than it did for him. He now faces an even bigger hurdle, as he has a lot to prove following his "performance" at the end of the Pacers series.
So far, it has been a journey of realisation for Paul. He has made strides in terms of being more concerned with winning than statistics. He has started to believe in teammates and that he no longer has to do it alone. Paul's next realisation has to be that there is a long way to go on this journey. Maybe he is yet to even learn what his ultimate goal is and what it will take to get there.
About 100 years ago, a famous tale conveyed how a young kid from Kansas embarked on a similar journey of enlightenment. After meeting all kind of strange characters, each with their own flaws, along the way, they embarked on this journey together, with the dream of obtaining what they had always wanted, but they were relying on the kid from Kansas to lead them there.
Paul also has a collection of characters accompanying him on this journey. There may be those that suffer from rustiness and lack heart, others that have the desire but lack the brains and some that just need a bit of courage, or belief in themselves. The lesson that has to be learned is that these are attributes that everyone needs to realise their dreams, even Paul.
In any classic tale, there is always a happy ending. On their journey, in order to fulfil their destiny, these characters have to pull together as a team, then before they can reach their heart's desire, they must prove themselves one final time. In doing so, they learn that they had the capabilities they craved within themselves all along and that working together towards a common goal enabled them to realise this.
Paul and his cronies have survived many "wicked witches" - Pitino, O'Brien, Baker, Gaston - but there will be tougher adversaries to overcome as the journey continues. There's no place like home and when the journey ends and Pierce finally returns to his home in Boston (assuming it is to remain his home...), then the goal has to be to return as a champion (it must be the shoes).
So whether the journey is through an NBA career or down the yellow brick road and whether the quest is for an emerald-encrusted ring or the emerald city, dreams really can come true. After all, if birds fly over the rainbow, why can't I?