ROUGHLY 24 hours ago Paul Pierce became the 22nd Celtic to have his number retired. ‘The Truth’ was a star of the early 21st century and developed from a pudgy kid to become a Boston hero. However, the Celtics haven’t been starved for heroes during their franchise’s history. Pierce is up there as one of the greatest Boston players ever, but just where does he land?
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PAUL Pierce’s numbers speak for themselves. The 10x All-Star ranks first in made/attempted free throws, made/attempted 3’s and steals for all Celtics players and is second only to John Havlicheck for points scored in a Boston uniform. He is inside the top five or 10 of all major statistical categories and lasted 15 seasons in Beantown.
WHEN it comes to scoring the ball, there may not have been a greater Celtic. He developed an inside-out game with the ability to score from the post, beat defenders off the dribble and make long treys. Pierce’s ability to get buckets can be epitomized by looking at his Game 3 performance against the New Jersey Nets in the 2002 Conference Finals, which may be his greatest moment. He scored 19 of his 18 points in the final quarter as the Celtics erased a 21-point deficit in just 12 minutes to steal a game from the Nets 94-90.
WHAT hampers Pierce’s legacy is the lack of championships and playoff series wins compared to his fellow Boston stars. He did make the playoffs 10 times in his 15 years with the Celtics and is one of five players to average over 20 PPG in the postseason. However, just one title in his Celtics tenure hampers his chances of being considered as one of real the Boston elite.
TO win that 2008 title he also needed Danny Ainge to swing for the fences and bring in Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen as sidekicks. He did his best to try and keep Boston relevant during the early ’00s with little help from the likes of Kendrick Perkins, Walter McCarty and Mark Blount. The Kansas product deserves all the accolades he received and then some. But you can’t put him in the same breath as the franchises top dogs.
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Honourable mention: Sam Jones, Bob Cousey, Robert Parish
1. Bill Russell
2. Larry Bird
3. John Havlicek
4. Bob Cousy
5. Kevin McHale
6. Paul Pierce
IF the argument was who is the greatest offensive Celtic player ever, then Paul Pierce could challenge for the top rung. His individual achievements are noteworthy and his longevity is worth mentioning as well. At the end of the day, we value rings and winning over everything else. Pierce did a lot of winning in his days as a Celtic, but the dynasty’s from the ’50s and ’80s hold him back from being an uber Boston elite.
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