There has been a lot of Celtics talk this off-season – starting with the NBA Draft and our promising trio of rookies, continuing with decisions made by Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, and most recently with summer leagues in Orlando and Las Vegas. There was a Rajon Rondo sighting in Sin City. Courtney Lee and Jason Collins give the Celtics reason to hope. Jeff Green and Chris Wilcox are back from heart ailments. Jason Terry’s plane has landed in Boston.
Yes, it has been a busy, exhausting summer to date, and Danny Ainge should be happy with what he’s put together in such a short span of time. But there’s one major question mark still out there, lurking, and it could prove to be the difference between the Celtics having a good season and a great one.
That question mark, of course, is Paul Pierce.
It’s no secret that Pierce is in the twilight of his hall-of-fame career, and that he looked older and slower than ever before during the playoffs. No one knows for sure how much of it could be attributed to the lockout-shortened season, and how much of it was related to the knee injury he suffered during the playoffs. But it’s apparent to most that Pierce is not the Pierce of old.
Now he simply looks like an old Pierce.
The Captain has kept a decidedly low profile this summer. While Garnett grabbed headlines and Allen turned stomachs, Pierce has simply stayed off the radar and left us to wonder if The Truth is, sadly, washed up.
Before you shovel dirt on Pierce and his legendary career, you should know that he has been hard at work this summer, pumping iron and staying focused on another championship run. He’s gone underground, like Rocky Balboa in Rocky III. He’s determined to get that eye of the tiger back, with the goal of shocking the world and lifting his Celtics back to the top.
Don’t know about you, but I have a hard time doubting Pierce. My head says he’s too old to pull it off, but my heart says that anything is possible. And given all of the excitement around the great adds this summer, I choose to go with my heart on this one.
Pierce is going to come back strong this season. And while Allen the Heat have plans to repeat, the rejuvenated Celtics – led by their rejuvenated captain – may have the last laugh after all.