ORLANDO, Fla. The debate will go on for years as to where Paul Pierce stands in the pantheon of great Boston Celtic players.
While he's often compared to Celtics greats of the past, a more accurate measurement might be to compare him to his contemporaries of today.
But in doing so, it brings you back to what's clear.
Paul Pierce is without question, one of the greatest players to ever play for the C's.
And while the argument for him being near the top consists of a bevy of numbers, you can add one more number - 10 - to the list.
That would be the number of all-star appearances by the 34-year-old.
Only four other players in Celtics history have been to 10 or more all-star games.
Bob Cousy and John Havlicek were named 13 times each. Bill Russell was selected 12 times. And the man that Pierce recently passed for No. 2 on the franchise's all-time scorers list, Larry Bird, was a 10-time all-star as well.
Cousy. Havlicek. Russell. Bird.
Yes, when it comes to being an all-star, Pierce is indeed in pretty select company.
"It's a great honor," Pierce told Comcast SportsNet and CSNNE.com. "It's a tribute to the hard work that I put in over the years, and staying lucky to be injury-free. I'm very thankful, each and every time you get a chance to play in an all-star game, representing the Boston Celtics is a tremendous honor."
Making things even trickier this year was Pierce missing all of training camp except for one practice, and then having to sit out the first three games - all losses - because of a right heel injury.
Pierce did not look good during his first few games back, prompting some to wonder if it was him still recovering from the injury, or whether the Captain had lost a step or two.
Pierce soon put those doubts to rest with a blistering stretch of play that began with a 34-point, 10-assist, 8-rebound performance in a 100-94 win at Washington on Jan. 22.
Over the next 10 games, Pierce averaged 21 points, 7.1 assists and 6.7 rebounds while the C's went 8-2. In the mix of the that, Pierce was named Eastern Conference player of the week. For the season, Pierce is averaging a team-high 17.6 points to go with five rebounds and a career-high 5.3 assists.
While Pierce's play during that stretch certainly strengthened his all-star credentials, being part of All-Star weekend, he said, was never something he gave much thought.
"Coming into each and every season, it's not really a goal of mine to make the All-Star team," Pierce said. "I just go out there and do the best I can to help my team win. At this stage, in the last three or four years, I'm more about the team than individual things and trying to win a championship. Whatever comes out of that, comes. It just so happens that I made the all-star team on my individual performance. But without my teammates, without them, I wouldn't be here."