Paul Pierce: A Tribute to the Truth

Paul Pierce's jersey retirement ceremony is scheduled for Feb. 11. This piece reflects on and appreciates the career of the Truth.

On Feb. 11, Paul Pierce will join the likes of Larry Bird, Bob Cousy, Bill Russell and many other Celtics greats when his number his retired in front of a jam-packed TD garden.

Despite being traded away at the end of his career to the Nets and then ending his NBA tenure with the Wizards and the Clippers, Pierce will always be remembered as a lifelong Celtic.

For millennials who grew up as Celtics fans, Pierce was the guy. He was more like David Ortiz than he was like Tom Brady. Fans felt connected to him in a personal way and he seemed like an authentic and genuinely good person.

Obviously, he could play. Despite being slower and less athletic than most NBA superstars, Pierce was always one of the best scorers in the league.

However, it was not his natural scoring ability that stole the hearts of Celtics fans. Rather, it was his personality and mentality on and off the court.

On the court, Pierce, like Kobe Bryant, had that killer mentality. He was ultra-competitive and always wanted to take the last shot. Not only did he want the last shot, but he often made the last shot. He was simply a winner.

Pierce had big-time performances against LeBron in his career, and he was the one player in the league that could go toe to toe with James. LeBron and Pierce really became rivals and it shows you what type of player Pierce was that he could matchup with LeBron.

Although LeBron scored against Pierce just like he does against everyone else in the league, Paul was the one guy who could somewhat contain LeBron and force him to shoot jump shots. When you look at Celtics’ defenders attempt to guard LeBron now, it makes you miss Pierce even more and appreciate his defense. There were rarely any easy layups when Paul covered “The King.” Sorry, Jaylen Brown.

Pierce also had great performances against Kobe and the Lakers. Remember the wheelchair game? People rag Paul over the dramatics. But even if it was overly dramatic, so what? Look at his performance once returning from his injury. 

When Paul was on the court, you could tell he was having a great time. His smile and laugh were infectious and he was constantly talking trash and ragging his opponents during the game. 

For instance, this is one game against the Nets when Pierce was talking trash against Al Harrington and drained a game winner in his face.

Pierce got you hyped before the game even started. Whether it was the pregame dance and jump around with his teammates (I never quite understood that) or Pierce screaming “let me hear it” on the jumbotron, he knew how to fire up the crowd.

In addition to big shots and clutch playoff performances, Pierce would also do the little things. He would grab big rebounds when the team needed it. He would get a key block. He dove on the floor for loose balls. He took charges.

He was simply an unselfish player and teammate. Instead of leaving when the Celtics had a tough run before the Big three era, Pierce stayed. He struggled through the hard times with the team, and once KG and Ray came to Boston, Paul was happy to take fewer shots and work on his defense to help the team win. 

Despite Pierce’s loyalty and toughness, and despite bringing the C's its first championship since 1986, Danny Ainge traded Paul and KG to the Nets in 2013.

Although the deal was the right basketball move, it was a heartless deal from a heartless GM.

Did Pierce justifiably complain about getting traded like Isaiah Thomas did?

No, he did not. He understood the business side of basketball and was very mature over the situation. 

But now Pierce is retired and the Celtics are commemorating his career where it began, in Boston.

Feb. 11 should be a special night at the garden. It will be a night to remember and reflect on one of the greatest Celtics to ever play. It will be a night to recall all of the special moments Pierce had in Boston. It will be a night to appreciate the Truth.

Just one more time, I want to hear Jack Nicholson asking us on the jumbotron: “Do you want the truth”? And then telling us: “you can’t handle the truth!” as the crowd in the arena erupts.

Just one more time, I want to hear the PA announcer say: “The captain and the truth, number 34 Paul Pierce.”

We should hear all of these things on Feb. 11. 

Number 34 will no longer be an option for future players wearing the green and white. And for good reason. 

It belongs to the captain. It belongs to the Truth.

It belongs to Paul Pierce.

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