Sunday, January 26, 2014

A Letter To A Boston Legend

Dear Paul,
You don’t know me, but we’ve met before it was many years ago at a charity event, a few months after you had just been to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time. I’m one of the many that have watched you your entire career. I have been a fan of the Boston Celtics since I was five years old. I watched through the 90’s as we C's fans waited for next big franchise changer, that seemed like would never come.

As we slowly slid through decade year after year of heartbreak, I remember when you were first drafted in 1998. Who is this swingman out of Kansas? Why did he fall so low in the draft? Wait, he's a Lakers fan and a Celtics hater? How is this going to work? But it didn’t matter as we would have to wait at least eight months to see what you could do. While a lockout had shortened your rookie season, not much was expected from the Pitino experiment that was in in year two.

I remember your first game as I watched you dribble and spin to the hoop dunking like you had been here in the NBA for years. You were not the fastest, but you made things happen. I said to myself, 'he might be here for the long haul.' You didn’t win rookie of the year and to this day, I've always said you were better than Vince Carter that year (still the better player), he just had had more ESPN highlighted dunks than anyone else.

Of course we all won’t forget when we could have lost you to senseless violence when we heard the unfortunate news that you had been stabbed in the neck, head, back and face. I was in shock and couldn’t believe this had happened. But you showed us what it really meant to be Boston Strong, when the 2000-01 season opened up at the Fleet Center. You amazed us with a 28 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists performance just six weeks after the incident. My dad called you 'the package,' because it meant you had a little bit of everything; the drive, the dribble, a fade away jumper, you could rebound, and pass. But later that season Shaquille O’Neal christened you “The Truth” after another great game against your hometown Lakers.

You had officially arrived and the following season you began to sport your trademark headband from that season forward (after a huge in L.A. beating the Lakers). Jim O’Brien had taken over and he gave you the keys to drive this team to the next level and you did. You'd pass league MVP Allen Iverson and all the way to the greatest comeback in NBA playoff history (at the time) against the hated Nets.

In the conference finals after being down by 21 points entering the fourth quarter of game three, you helped the Celtics outscore Jason Kidd and the New Jersey Nets 41-16 while you poured in 19 of your 28 points in that stretch. Most people had doubted you and in a room full of naysayers when I watched you that afternoon. I kept quiet and exploded once the clock had hit double zero, and the comeback was complete. You pretty much had single handedly won that game 94-90 at the 'Jungle'. In just your third year in the league, you were an MVP candidate and you were named team captain.

You continued to make All-Star teams and be the face of the franchise that really had not had one since the days of 'Larry Legend.'

By the 2006-07 season, you had been through it all, you were playoff tested and a top ten scorer for at least six seasons, but you longed for what every basketball player in the NBA wants; a championship ring. Danny Ainge promised us the fans in 2004 that by his fifth year as the GM that the Celtics would be championship contenders. He stayed true to his word and you Paul were the focal point along with coach Doc Rivers to build around.

You deserved to get that shot and here in Boston, not somewhere else. You finally got the help you needed. With the 'Big Ticket' now on your side you were well on your way pass the 'great' LeBron James in 2008 to raise the Larry O’Brien trophy so damn high. I screamed as I watched you in the NBA Finals dismantle your boyhood Lakers, in six games, that was your destiny and you BEAT LA and Kobe Bryant right here in the Garden on June 17th.

Pure poetic justice after David Stern had called your name as the tenth-pick, 10 years prior and you put on that green hat, we watched you come full circle. My younger brother and I drove to the arena to try and catch a glimpse of our Finals MVP up close.

We were the two crazy fools that chased you on foot as you drove out of the player's lot, waiving your MVP trophy, while you were riding in the passenger seat. We ran behind you all the way down to damn near route 93. Me being the oldest, I admit I didn’t run as fast as my brother, but you probably remember thinking when were we going to stop running? But we didn't, because we had to say Thank You!

If anything, thank you for being our hopes and dreams and bringing us banner 17 and being the face that was synonymous with Celtics Pride. It meant the world to us as fans because I know you had never let me down despite the ups and downs. You continued to show us Paul, that being emotionally connected to this team was never a bad thing. You poured your blood, sweat and tears for the city and New England for 15 years. You became the team’s second leading scorer of all time and you continue to climb the latter of being one of the greatest scorers in NBA history.

Your greatness can never be duplicated but only remembered and in a sports town like Boston, where we truly cherish our athletes, especially the ones who lay it all on the line. Those are the ones that become one of us and truth be told there is no way we could ever repay you for what you've done.

So today we will celebrate your return, I will be the one in section 306 at the Garden, clapping and cheering and maybe shedding some tears. You’ll be wearing another jersey, but you’ll forever be a Celtic. I’ve been told all good things must come to an end, but I never truly can say good-bye. Maybe now, they’ll know how great you are like I always knew to some extent. Some how deep down inside, I knew because in life you have to go through the lows, so you can enjoy the highs that much more.

Like I said before you probably don’t remember me, but I will always remember you. Thank you Paul Pierce, can’t wait to see your number 34 in the rafters one day.

Sincerely yours and a fan for life,

Joel Pavón
P.S. Say hi to KG for me, he’s dearly missed as well!                  

June 17,2008: The moment I waited my whole life for as a Celtics fan. #ThankYouPaul!

No comments:

Post a Comment