Paul Pierce is getting his #34 raised to the rafters today.
In all honesty Pierce is not my favorite Celtic of All-Time, that prestigious honor instead goes to the one and only Gerald Green, but I have nothing but respect for what the Captain accomplished in his time in Boston.
The Celtics of the 1990s were an aimless drifting tragedy filled mess. Larry Bird had gone from Savior to retirement in what felt like a snap of the fingers. Here one minute, gone the next and his heir apparent Reggie Lewis, well let’s just not get into that now but the point is the organization was a mess.
They turned the organization over to Rick Pitino to right the ship and he promptly sank the boat.
But he did draft Paul Pierce 10th in 1998 partnering him with Antoine Walker and creating one of the most exciting young duos in the league. The Celtics were relevant again.
When the Celtics made the playoffs in 2002 it was the first time in seven years and they promptly made it all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals. Pierce averaged 26 points a game that year. He was officially a star.
It’s not a stretch to say that Pierce kept basketball alive in Boston for 15 years. He was the Celtics.
The retiring of numbers is tricky business. It really depends on the organization, on how strict the rules are, who’s deserving, who’s not. For the Celtics it truly is an exclusive club (despite the fact that there’s a million numbers retired, just shows for how long the Celtics have been great).
By any measure Paul Pierce deserves the honor.
Congrats to Paul. You’ll live on in Celtic Glory for All-Time.