For many years, Paul Pierce was the heart and soul of the Boston Celtics. He toiled and worked in Boston for many years, only making it past the first round of the playoffs twice, in 2002 and 2003. Some of those early years were incredibly difficult, and more than one ended in losing seasons. However, his work in the community and on the court endeared him to fans of the organization. He was the captain, and the Celtics were unquestionably his team.
As we all know, in the summer of ’07, Danny Ainge brought in Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett to join Pierce, forming the first ‘Big 3’ in a recent big three revival. That very year, Boston would go on to win the NBA championship, hanging banner 17 in the rafters of the Garden, and cementing Pierce’s legacy as a Celtics legend.
Although they would go back to the playoffs, and even to the championship series, over the next several years, the Big 3 never repeated, and were unable to hang banner 18. Then, a couple of years ago, Ainge jump-started the rebuild by trading Pierce and Garnett to Brooklyn, leaving the C’s with a young head coach, and a questionable place in the NBA hierarchy.
This is all well-known history, but we are fans of the Celtics, so history is important to remember and cherish.
After a year of transition, the Celtics are no longer seen as Pierce’s team. They are now Brad Stevens’s team. The young head coach has cemented himself as Boston’s biggest star, and is poised to continue to develop and improve this team as it works its way back to prominence. We have someone who has picked up where Pierce left off. We have someone new that can carry the load and be the face until banner 18 is won.
With that being said, the mark that The Truth has left on us has not faded. In fact, it still burns in the hearts of many of us. Although we can't say he belongs to us anymore, it still feels like he does somehow. Regardless of where he plays, he'll always be a Celtic.
We can still clearly remember the days when the C’s belonged to Pierce, particularly now. When we turn on the playoffs, we can witness the undeniable and timeless fact that is as true today as it was years ago; they can’t handle the Truth.
The clutch performances that Pierce has had in these playoffs remind all of us of the memories that he gave to us when his jersey still had "Celtics" emblazoned across the chest. He still feels like he belongs to us, despite his presence on the Wizards roster.
I can say very honestly that I shed a tear or two watching the Paul Pierce tribute video that was played when he first came back to the Garden. I think we can all say that we look forward to the day when he can come back to Boston, either as a player or otherwise, and have his number lifted into the rafters.
Until then, we can only root for him in his latest conquest, leading a young team of talented players through the crucible of the NBA postseason.
Go get ‘em, Truth. Beantown’s always got your back.