Paul Pierce realized a life dream in 2008, winning the NBA Championship and being named Finals MVP in the process. Nothing and no one can take that away from him, and no matter how his career ends, his place in history of the Boston Celtics is secure. But the final chapter has yet to be written. Pierce has another shot at burnishing his Hall of Fame legacy, and if the Celtics win a title this season, Pierce will likely be the most important player in that run.
There are plenty who say he’s too old for a challenge of that magnitude, and that he can’t stand up to a playoff grind that likely includes guarding LeBron James, and then heavy doses of either Kobe Bryant or Kevin Durant. And maybe the critics are right. But do I subscribe to that notion? My head does, maybe, but my heart in no way agrees with that assessment. Especially not at this time of the year, before training camp, before we’ve gotten a chance to see what kind of shape Pierce is in when the season starts. Right now I’m dialed into the fact that the bench in better, and that players like Jeff Green and Courtney Lee will help to keep The Truth from carrying a heavy workload.
And while there’s no question that this is Rajon Rondo’s team now, everyone from Danny to Doc to the players on the roster know that crunch-time still belongs to Pierce. Yes, Jason Terry is going to have his moments. Yes, Lee can knock it down from the perimeter. Kevin Garnett strokes it with the best of the bigs from midrange. But Pierce is The Closer. It’s his show with the clock winding down. And that, interestingly enough, will be my favorite storyline when the playoffs start. Can Pierce save his legs and stay fresh enough to knock down crucial shots and absolutely crucial times? Working hard on D, running the court, the physicality of the playoffs…will Pierce have enough in the tank to make opponents pay?
I can’t wait to find out. If Pierce can do those things, then our Celtics have a very real shot at winning a championship.
And if that happens, Pierce’s legend will take a quantum leap as one of the greatest players in team