Pierce one of just five Celtics named to 10 All-Star teams


Pierce one of just five Celtics named to 10 All-Star teams

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."

Red Sox celebration quickly washes away walk-off loss


Red Sox celebration quickly washes away walk-off loss

NEW YORK -- It had the potential to be the most awkward celebration ever.

In the top of the ninth inning at Yankee Stadium, before their game was complete, the Red Sox became American League East champions, by virtue of one other division rival -- Baltimore -- coming back to beat another -- Toronto -- in the ninth inning.

That eliminated the Blue Jays from the division race, and made the Sox division champs.

But that ninth inning reversal of fortune was about to visit the Red Sox, too.

Craig Kimbrel faced four hitters and allowed a single and three straight walks, leading to a run. When, after 28 pitches, he couldn't get an out, he was lifted for Joe Kelly, who recorded one out, then yielded a walk-off grand slam to Mark Teixeira.

The Yankees celebrated wildly on the field, while the Red Sox trudged into the dugout, beset with mixed emotions.

Yes, they had just lost a game that seemed theirs. But they also had accomplished something that had taken 158 games.

What to do?

The Sox decided to drown their temporary sorrows in champagne.

"As soon as we got in here,'' said Jackie Bradley Jr., "we quickly got over it.''

From the top of the eighth until the start of the bottom of the ninth, the Red Sox seemed headed in a conventional celebration.

A two-run, bases-loaded double by Mookie Betts and a wild pitch -- the latter enabling David Ortiz to slide into home and dislodge the ball from former teammate Tommy Layne's glove --- had given the Sox a 3-0 lead.

Koji Uehara worked around a walk to post a scoreless walk and after the top of the ninth, the Sox called on Craig Kimbrel, who had successfully closed out all but two save opportunities all season.

But Kimbrel quickly allowed a leadoff single to Brett Gardner and then began pitching as though he forgot how to throw strikes. Three straight walks resulted in a run in and the bases loaded.

Joe Kelly got an out, but then Teixeira, for the second time this week, produced a game-winning homer in the ninth. On Monday, he had homered in Toronto to turn a Blue Jays win into a loss, and now, here he was again.

It may have been a rather meaningless victory for the Yankees -- who remain barely alive for the wild card -- but it did prevent them the indignity of watching the Red Sox celebrate on their lawn.

Instead, the Sox wore the shame of the walk-off -- at least until they reached their clubhouse, where the partying began in earnest.

It had taken clubhouse attendants less than five minutes to cover the floor and lockers with plastic protective sheets. In a matter of a few more minutes, the air was filled with a mix of beer and bubbly.

President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski wore a goggles and only socks on his feet.

As the spray reached every inch of the clubhouse, David Ortiz exclaimed: "I'm going to drown in this man.''

Defeat? What defeat?