Well, it’s over. An end of an era.
One of the hardest things to go through as a sports fan is watching your favorite player retire. A guy you grow up watching and idolizing. You’d go to the driveway after dinner and pretend you were him. You’d create fake scenarios of winning the championship on a buzzer-beating three. You buy their jerseys and wear them to school to see the envious looks on the faces of your friends.
But this is different. Paul Pierce isn’t retiring. In all likelihood, he’ll play at least two more seasons. We say goodbye to him now only to see him again in another uniform in October. A true legend by our standards, Paul walked in and out of TD Garden a million times as a Celtic, and now he’ll walk in and out of it as the enemy.
As an 8-year-old, the intricacies of basketball were lost on me. Instead of noticing how well someone defended the pick-and-roll, I only cared about who was the best dunker. For some reason, though, I found myself drawn to how Pierce played basketball. The ease with which he played and the way it seemed like he had mastered all facets of the game astonished me. I’d never seen anything like it.
He wasted away his prime years on teams that featured Raef Lafrentz, Ricky Davis and Mark Blount, but he still featured an unwavering loyalty and a burning fire for a seemingly dying franchise.
He fought for his life in 2000 after being stabbed 11 times, only to come back and start every single game that season. He spent 10 years scratching and clawing for the Celtics before it finally culminated into his ultimate dream of a NBA championship.
Before the trade went down, I had already built myself up for him to not be wearing Celtics green this year. I expected that by doing this, the pain would be alleviated. I was wrong. It still hurts. It’s a silly hurt when you realize it’s about a sport team and a player who is completely unaware of my existence on this planet. But for me, the pain is warranted.
From the fourth grade until now, my junior year of high school, the Celtics have been my sanctuary and escape from the real world. The one constant in that sanctuary has been Paul, which is why this trade hurts so much.
This route is probably preferable to buying him out. The Celtics acquired three first-round draft picks for him and KG. That isn’t so bad, and it’s enough to deal with Wallace and Hump.
In the end, this isn’t a complete goodbye. Goodbye is usually used to indicate that you’ll never see someone again. At the very least, we’ll see Paul & KG four times a year. It is, however, a goodbye to an era. An era that saw a championship, two NBA Finals appearances and last year’s improbable run to the Eastern Conference Finals. Nothing will ever quite be the same in Boston, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing