Late but in earnest, The Truth had a good run. Inglewood’s favorite son has come and gone but his legend is here to stay.
As the Celtics prepare to play a 2nd round game 7 that could bring them to a place no Celtic team has been without Paul Pierce since 1988, we should take a look back to acknowledge just how great Paul Pierce is and was.
Pierce with High school teammates from the “rough” bloods and Crips filled inner city school of Inglewood.
To tell the story of Paul Pierce, we gotta rewind the clocks. The late 80s Celtics are wining titles left and right, hot off of a 1986 championship the soon to be aging Celtics have the 2nd pick in the NBA Draft…Len Bias….who just a few weeks later….is dead due to a cocaine overdose……and the NBA is nice enough to hold the contract against the Celtics. Fast forward to the 1987 draft. The Celtics pick up future All Star Reggie Lewis to help guide their team into the 90s with an aging original Big Three of Kevin McHale, Larry Bird, and Robert Parish.
During the 1993 Playoffs the Celtics hope for a successful future is snuffed out of reality in just a few short days. The Celtics next big hope for the future collapses on the court, and eventually dies at the age of 27. (Reggie Lewis 1965-1993) (fast forward to 1:41)
Another possible great….dead and hope for the decades long Celtic Dynasty going with it.
The 90s were a decade long era of turmoil and disaster for the Celtics as an entire city watched a storied franchise of indomitable success decay and fall to ashes.
The Celtics had the luck of catching Paul Pierce at 10 in the 1998 draft under Head Coach Rick “Killed the Franchise” Pitino ( Death comes in 3’s Bias, Lewis, Celtics) but thats a blog for another day.
Paul Pierce went on to immediate success and showed the city of Boston the Celtic glimmer was back in just his first year. This success was almost cut short however. Paul Pierce was almost another Celtic dead and left to the history books.
A night out in Boston at “The Buzz Club”. Pierce alongside a few teammates ( Tony Battie) were out on the town when Pierce was stabbed 11 times in the face, neck and back, with a few punctures coming millimeters away from his heart and a champagne bottle smashed across his temple. The Celtics were on the verge of another death, and any hope for success choked out again. Thanks to quick driving of his teammate Tony Battie and a hospital near by, Pierce was able to make a impressive recovery despite being stabbed 11 times and losing dangerous amounts of blood.Pierce went on to have light shoot around sessions within weeks of his attack and was able recover and go on to enormous success stringing multiple 40 point games consecutively earning the nick name “The Truth” by Shaq after being torched during the following season. Despite fearing there may be those in the stands and in the city trying to kill him, Pierce was determined to stay in Boston and went on to be loved by the very city that almost took his life.
Paul Pierce proved to be the pick that was here to stay. Pierce would not be another grave stone in Celtics lure.
Paul Pierce along side shake and bake performer Antoine Walker brought the Celtics to a Conference Finals against a talented New Jersey Nets team, although we lost the series, Paul Pierce was a major component of a historic 21 point 4th quarter comeback win in the Fleet Center(RIP). Despite minor playoff success, Pierce could only do so much to drag the poorly managed Celtics to success and was left with year after of bad rosters and little to no support. As season after season of missing the playoffs and being a mediocre team Pierce had peaked, he was almost ten years into his career and the clock was ticking. Pierce despite trade rumors every few years endured the pain of loss after loss and shouldered the team year in and year out until the fateful summer where Trader Danny picked to trade.
Insert Ray Allen and the Celtics now look a little more busty, and a tad more attractive for players to leave for….fast forward a few more weeks and……
Pierce had his team, he had his time in NBA purgatory and now he’s out. He has his squad and was playing along side two hall of famers whos’ careers have mirrored his own. Both super stars withering away with franchises they could not get over the hump. Garnett and Allen could not be happier to be with the Celtics. Taking pay cuts and willing to play with others, Pierce, Garnett, and Allen went on to a historic season ending with an NBA title and firmly cementing Pierce’s place in Celtics Glory as a champion. ( COULD HAVE HAD 3…but again a blog for another day)
Pierce is everything a Celtic should be, tough, gritty, loyal and smart. His play, although not always smooth, got the job done. He was the blue collar star the franchise needed. Constantly giving back to the community schools and under privileged, Pierce will always be an icon in Boston. His last great gift to the Celtics was maybe the hardest….and that was agreeing to a trade that would take him out of Boston. By trading Pierce, the Celtics were able to avoid the mistakes of old, allowing a fading star to play out their time in the NBA for his team only hurts the franchise, the Celtics traded Paul and others away while he still had value, allowing the Celtics to have a map of their future through the NBA draft. Paul’s NBA career has come to an end this season and as the Celtics prepare to play a 2nd round game 7 that could bring them to a place no Celtic team has been without Paul Pierce since 1988, we should take a look back to acknowledge just how great Paul Pierce is because the Truth is….
Paul Pierce was not the player Boston deserved, he was The Truth we needed.