On Friday, the final step in the dismantling of The Big Three Era in Boston became official. Kevin Garnet and Paul Pierce are now heading to Brooklyn, with a chance to win one more ring and continue to be a thorn in the side of the Miami Heat.
Over the course of Paul Pierce's career he scored 24,021 points (3rd all-time), played in 1,102 games (3rd all-time), he was also third in field goals made, second in field goal attempts, first in three pointers made, and he capped off his 2008 season with an NBA Finals MVP. His step back elbow jumped at the buzzer became a staple. His glare receded over time, and he turned into one of the greatest Celtics of all-time. Even when his name was bandied about in trade rumors numerous times as the Celtics pondered moving on and trying a new tactic, Pierce continued to give his all. Never complaining publicly, and never showing apathy on the court. He is, without a doubt, as Larry Bird said, "one of the better ones to ever come through." That might actually be an understatement.
Kevin Garnett's stint with the Celtics was much shorter, but it had a lasting impact on the culture of the franchise. Garnett showed up in 2007 after a terrible Celtics team missed out on the Greg Oden and Kevin Durant sweepstakes. He joined forces with Ray Allen and Paul Pierce, brought an intensity to the game that seems unmatched, even when compared to the likes of Larry Bird, Dave Cowens, Bob Cousy, and Bill Russell. His place in the franchise is secure.
While many fans will see this departure as bittersweet, there is also a lesson in all this rebuilding. It is going to take patience. Who is the next Paul Pierce? Who will come in and stick it out through the good times and the bad times. Paul Pierce was that player. He endured terrible seasons, an 18 game losing streak, a near fatal stabbing. The list goes on.
As the Celtics now move on, they have to look back to help them map out the next few years. They have to find the next Paul Pierce, a guy the team can build around. Paul Pierce was the foundation of the Celtics for the past 17 years. Celtics fans will be checking the schedule to see when The Truth and KG will be back in town, wearing black and white, sadly, instead of green and white. They'll get a huge ovation, and deservedly so. They were both spectacular, and brought this franchise out of 15 years of losing and embarrassment.
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