I was born on July 12th 1989. I'm 24 years old. I have no memories of the Boston Celtics that do not revolve around Paul Pierce. A lifelong Celtics fan, I have little to no recollection of watching or rooting for a Celtics team that did not include # 34.
That may be why I developed such an emotional attachment to Pierce. Growing up watching him, having him be the driving force behind my own desire to play basketball, and effectively bearing witness to his entire career (both the ups and downs)- all of those factors combined made his recent trade to the Nets the most painful departure of a Boston athlete I have ever endured.
Many older Boston sports fans claim that my generation is spoiled, and they are probably right. I have experienced the Golden Era of sports in this city right in the prime of my life, 18-25, and I'm really lucky for that. That being said, there have been some painful moments in that era. Paul Pierce leaving the Celtics sticks out to me as the most difficult to process.
I don't know how to feel about the Celtics anymore. Their championship season was one of the most thrilling things I've ever been a part of- and the culmination of an improbable run brilliantly crafted by Danny Ainge, directed by Doc Rivers, and executed by the Big 3. But Pierce was the leader, the driving force of that team, the NBA Finals MVP.
But all that is foreign now. The Celtics as we know them have been demolished, Rajon Rondo being the only pillar of the past that remains. Around him is just rubble, with the earliest stages of rebuilding set to begin next season. But nothing can erase what Paul Pierce did for the franchise.
He is one greatest to ever don Celtic green, and is a lock for the Hall of Fame. It will be difficult for me to watch the Celtics as they are currently constructed, but the most difficult adjustment will undoubtedly be the absence of Pierce.
I am an unabashed Celtics homer, and Pierce is without a doubt my favorite player of all time. Yes, I have a sentimental connection to him as a player, but I think he deserves recoginition as one of the all-time great offensive players in the NBA.
Thank you Paul, for everything.