Pierce, Garnett 'embedded' in C's history

Pierce, Garnett 'embedded' in C's history
January 25, 2014, 12:00 pm
Share This Post

BOSTON — Both Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett were emotional players during their time in Boston.

You can expect more of the same on Sunday, their first trip back to the TD Garden since they were traded to Brooklyn this past summer.

Both players spoke with reporters about their return following Brooklyn's 107-106 win over Dallas on Friday night.

Pierce, who spent 15 seasons playing for the Celtics and ranks among the franchise's all-time leader in several categories, said getting a sense of how his emotions will play out on Sunday is something that he "can't script."

"Definitely a lot of memories are going to be passing through my head," Pierce said.

The 10th overall pick in the 1998 NBA draft, Pierce used the draft-night slide (most mock drafts had him going much higher than that) to propel himself to a career that ranks among the greatest ever in the history of this storied Celtics franchise.

Pierce scored 24,021 points as a Celtics, second only to John Havlicek (26,395). He also ranks in the top 10 in games played (1,102), minutes played (40,329), made field goals (7,876), 3-point percentage (37 percent), free throws made (6,434) and ... you get the picture.

With that body of work, Pierce was well on his way to being one of the all-time Celtic greats even before Garnett and Ray Allen (now with the Miami Heat) arrived in 2007.

Their arrival ushered in an era in which the widely successful times that Celtics fans had grown to love and expect, was back.

During the six seasons that Pierce and Garnett played together (Allen signed with the Heat prior to the 2012-2013 season), the Celtics were 314-134 in addition to a pair of trips to the NBA Finals (2008 and 2010) with their first season together, 2008, culminating with Banner 17.

"We had some really good years there, some really promising years," Garnett said. "I think it’s going to be forever, we’re embedded in it. Anybody who’s part of that run and part of that era will always be remembered. Bostonians, New Englanders, they understand that and they never forget their favorites. We (were) fortunate to be part of that whole transformation."

And that is what makes their return to special.

While there are several former Celtics who won more titles in Boston, Garnett and Pierce will forever hold a special place in the hearts of Celtics Nation.

Not only because of what they did, but what they left behind.

The Celtics are indeed in rebuilding mode now, but the legacy of Pierce and Garnett is alive and well.

Jared Sullinger credits Garnett with showing him what true intensity at this level is, and Pierce for being such a great team leader.

"Those guys meant a lot to me, to this organization," Sullinger told CSNNE.com recently. "But they're Brooklyn Nets now. We've moved on, and so have they."

Brandon Bass has been one of Boston's best defensive players this season, and he credits his time playing alongside Garnett as being a key to his progress.

But he's not looking at this game any differently because of their return.

"It'll be another game for me," Bass told CSNNE.com. "For them, I think it's a day for them to reminisce on their time here, try and get a win."

Beyond the lessons on the court and inside the locker room, Bass says simply being able to call them teammates is something that he will always cherish.

"It was cool to play with those dudes," Bass said. "I can always say when I'm retired, I played with a Hall of Famer and a gamer like Paul Pierce, and a Hall of Famer like Kevin Garnett. It's cool to say I played with them and learned a lot from them."

But don't think for a minute that he's going to take it easy on them in what will surely be a sentimental night.

"We miss them," Bass said, "but we gonna be at them, just like they're gonna be at us."

And that right there is yet another example of the ongoing influence that Pierce and Garnett had on their former teammates.

Who can forget Garnett looking the other way when Ray Allen approached him when the Celtics and Allen's new team, the Miami Heat, met for the first time?

Or the silent treatment Pierce gave him for months afterwards.

"It definitely hurt me,’ Pierce told reporters last April when he was with the Celtics. "Say we play the Lakers for the championship, and two years later I go and sign with the Lakers. That’s the equivalent of what he did."

There will be a wide-ranging spectrum of emotions, but animosity towards Pierce and Garnett?

That won't be one of them.

Pierce and Garnett will receive long, emotion-filled tributes - something this franchise has done for just about every player from that 2008 title team.

And while no one will be shocked if Pierce sheds a tear or two, don't be surprised if Garnett follows suit.

After all, like Pierce, Garnett also "bleeds green."

"Some things are forever, man," Garnett said. "I’m happy to say that I'm part of that era."