Paul Pierce admitted he was “this close” to photo-shopping himself in another team’s jersey, perhaps proving that he was a lot closer to leaving this summer than anyone realized. If Doc Rivers had left, if any sort of rebuilding had occurred, Pierce would have bolted.
Instead, he signed a four-year, $61 million deal that should keep him a Boston Celtics for the rest of his career. The Captain discussed his legacy with the Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn.
“I guess I started thinking about [my legacy] now because my career is winding down,’’ said Pierce. “I see the light at the end of the tunnel.
“I got four years left, and that might be it. I’m playing for a lot — myself, my team, memories. I have a lot of pride.
“I want to be known as one of the best players to ever play the game, so a lot is at stake. As long as we continue to win, everything will pan out the way I want it to.
“A lot of organizations don’t have the legacy and history the Celtics have. When you are talking your place among the greats, it means a lot, because there are so many players of the past and so many things in history that’s gone on with the Boston Celtics.
“So if my name is linked in that history, then it goes a long way.’’
Washburn’s article quoted Robert Parish as saying ”I think Paul Pierce, the way he manufactures points, is the best player the Celtics have seen thus far.” I think Parish meant best offensive player, not best player overall, because he continued, “That’s saying a lot, because you are talking about John Havlicek was the best offensive player that the Celtics had, the way he manufactures points.
“But Paul Pierce has them all beat. And his number will be retired, once he retires. And if they don’t retire it, then it’s a travesty to justice.’’
Doc Rivers also put Pierce in some lofty company.
“He’s got to be at the top,’’ he said. “There with Larry and, you know, Russell. Russell’s got his own penthouse, though.
“But Paul’s one of the greatest of that group, ever to play in Boston.
“I was hoping I was going to be there with him for him to get there. I thought he was a hell of a player. But I don’t really look at it because for him, he’s still in it and he has some more to do.’’
When people say Pierce is the best offensive player to play for the Celtics, all I can say is, “Huh? Don’t you idiots remember Larry Bird?” Bird was only a three-time MVP, and I promise you it wasn’t for his defense. He averaged 24.3 points throughout his career, shot heat seekers in the clutch, and had eyes in the back of his head. And those eyes had x-ray vision. To say anybody but Bird is the best offensive Celtic should be considered a felony.
That said, Pierce deserves almost all the credit he receives. From the young punk who once wore a bandage over his head in a postgame press conference to the seasoned pro who never causes any trouble, Pierce has grown and developed as a Celtic. Reading the Washburn piece, you can tell Pierce is content with every aspect of his life.
“I know I matured,’’ he said. “When you get around guys who are grown, and are pretty mature themselves, you take things from them. I’ve taken a lot of things from Ray off the court. I’ve taken a lot of things from Kevin to the point where I am at a good, even keel in my life. I’ve got a good balance. I’ve got a family now.’’
Wrong. He’s got two families. His own and the Boston Celtics.