Wednesday marked Paul Pierce’s second consecutive day at the Auerbach Center, as he looked in on Celtics training camp. Pierce’s time with the Cs came to a close in 2013, when he, Kevin Garnett, and Jason Terry were traded to the Brooklyn Nets, However, according to him, once you’re a Celtic, it lasts forever. It’s a tradition that he hopes to help the current squad adopt and grow to love, much like other Celtic legends did for him.
“Yeah, I think that’s what it should be all about,” Pierce said. “You know it’s always been that way since I’ve been a part of the organization, and I love that Joe [Mazzulla] has reached out to me and some of the other guys to be around more.”
"There'd be times I'd look up... Tommy Heinsohn was always there... John Havlicek, Bill Russell, Cousy... continue to the brotherhood." @paulpierce34 talks about the impact of former #Celtics spending time with the current team— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) October 5, 2023
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Mazzulla’s idea to encourage former Celtics to be around as much as possible stems from his desire to keep Boston’s tradition of brotherhood and greatness alive.
“I sent an email out to all the Celtics former players because I felt like it’s important that we share in this experience together,” Mazzulla said Tuesday. “They started the tradition, they kept it going, and now it’s our responsibility as an organization to keep it alive.”
The tradition is something that is consistently talked about in Boston, but not something that’s been in practice as much as of late. Over the past decade or so, there’s been a dip in the number of legends that are seen spending time around the team. It was partly due to the most recent group playing out the end of their careers in the late 2010s. Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Rajon Rondo were all active for a few years after moving on from the Cs. Now that they’re all retired (though Rondo hasn’t officially announced that he’s hanging it up), there’s more time for them to be around the current generation of Celtics stars.
“Not only just coming to the games, but to come to practice, even travel with the team, or be around the team a little bit more,” Pierce continued. “That’s how it was when I played. Tommy Heinsohn was always there, then you’d look up and see John Havlicek, Bill Russell, [Bob] Cousy. It just brings a certain energy to the building whenever I saw them guys at a practice or at a game. So, I think it’s up to us to try and continue the brotherhood. It’s all part of our culture and this is something that the Celtics have always been about.”
Earlier this year, Pierce and KG paid a visit to the Auerbach Center for ShowTime Basketball.
While they were spending time with Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and the rest of the guys, Pierce continuously encouraged Garnett to keep coming back and showing his face around the team.
So far this fall, he’s practiced what he’s preached and has been a prominent figure at training camp. Pierce isn’t the only Celtics legend who’s taken Mazzulla up on his invitation; Satch Sanders, Eddie House, and Leon Powe were all around for Tuesday’s practice.
Pierce hopes that his presence — along with the others — can inspire Boston’s contending squad.
“It’s definitely inspirational because we understand that these guys coming back — this is something that they built. Me coming back, with the guys that have been there, that’s something that will continue to be built.”