Monday, January 27, 2014

I was crazy not to rank Paul Pierce as one of the five greatest Celtics of all-time

I'll never forget Pierce jumping onto the scorer's table
after the miracle comeback in Game 3 of the 2002 ECF.
I owe Paul Pierce an apology.

He and I are the same age.  I remember watching him as an All-American at Kansas during our junior years of college in 1998.  On draft night the following summer I was thrilled that the twenty year-old superstar who left school a year early had somehow fallen all the way to Boston at #10.  Since that time Pierce and I have grown up together.

After a string of 8 consecutive losing seasons for the Celtics (three with Pierce), I recall being somewhat shocked when Boston blew out Cleveland on the road on opening night in 2001 (behind Pierce's 29 points).  That team would end up going all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals, and even take a 2-1 lead over Jason Kidd's New Jersey Nets after the greatest 4th quarter comeback in NBA playoff history (the Celtics trailed by as many as 26, and by 21 entering the final period).

Late last night I re-watched the last 15 minutes of that game on youtube (and about a million other highlights from throughout Pierce's career as well).  It was unbelievable.  Pierce could do anything he wanted to in that 4th quarter.

I'm not going to continue listing all of my spectacular Pierce memories, because that would go on forever.

I knew Pierce and Kevin Garnett's return to the Garden last night was going to be highly emotional, and it was the one game on the schedule this year I couldn't wait to attend.  But somehow I wasn't fully aware of the impact Pierce's Celtic career has had on me until this video ran on the jumbotron.  I pretty much lost it.

Last spring when there were rumors that Pierce and Garnett's time in Boston could be coming to an end, I wrote an article for Celtics Life called "Where do Paul Pierce & Kevin Garnett rank on the list of all-time Celtics?"  I also posted rankings on this site of the 18 greatest Boston Celtics of all-time.  I had Pierce slotted at #10.  Many people told me he should be higher, but for whatever reason I didn't see it.  Now that he's gone it's become clear to me that I was wrong.  Very wrong.  Pierce is in the top 5 (Russell, Bird, Havlicek, Cousy, Pierce), and I just needed last night's experience to realize this.

And that's why I owe Paul Pierce an apology.

Also make sure to read my Celtics Life article from today: "For Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and the Garden crowd, it was a game unlike any other"


  1. No a Celtics fan, but if I were drafting them all in their prime he's not in my top five. Just outside. Russell, Bird, Cousy, Cowens, Havlicek, and I rate McHale much higher than history does.

  2. Yeah, originally I had Cowens #5, and McHale at #8. Comparing players from different era's is really difficult.


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