It was the ending that every Boston fan wanted to experience and a poetic ending for the man who has brought them so much joy in his storied career. It was truly elation in its purest form. When the game was over their guy raised his arm, thanking the crowd for its support through the turbulent last few seasons. Fans knew that this was a special moment between them and him, and the outcome of the game was only a formality.
Paul Pierce played his final game in front of the Boston faithful a few nights ago, and even though there was a ton of buzz surrounding the Super Bowl matchup against the Falcons, Pierce still received the hero’s welcome he deserved. Swarms of Boston fans showed up to watch one final performance from the man who helped bring the city its 17th championship back in 2008. After chants of “we want Paul Pierce” bellowed through the Boston Garden for a quarter and a half, Clippers coach Doc Rivers inserted Pierce into the game late in the fourth quarter. The crowd would have been satisfied with that, but Pierce had one more trick up his sleeve.
With 11 seconds left in the game and the Celtics leading 107-99, Pierce stepped into a deep three-pointer. Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas half-heartedly tried contesting the shot, but seemed more than willing to concede the three points as a sign of respect. The three-ball rattled in and the arena went berserk. Pierce backpedaled to the opposite foul line before raising his arm and waving to the crowd, thanking the fans for the support, even in the twilight of his career. After the game was over he knelt down one last time at half court to kiss Lucky the Leprechaun before retreating to the locker room.
Pierce is one of the last few of a dying breed – he’s one of three active players from the hallowed 1998 draft class, the other two players being Vince Carter and Dirk Nowitzki. His retirement is going to cement an official change of the guard. However, it would be cruel to forget that Paul Pierce’s career consists of 10 All-Star selections and over 26,000 points. The last few years have been far from his best, but have still managed to give us some breathtaking moments, such as the buzzer-beating game winner he hit in Game Three of the 2015 Eastern Conference Semifinals. In that moment, the old Paul Pierce seemed to return to form, utilizing his once lethal stepback jumper to finish off the Hawks.
It doesn’t seem right that Pierce will end his career wearing anything other than the Boston Celtics jersey he donned for 15 seasons. The last four years have seen him bounce from Brooklyn to Washington, before finally ending up in LA with the Clippers. None of that mattered on Sunday, because for one fleeting moment Pierce was a Celtic once again. Some say the truth is better than fiction, and in this case the truth is Paul Pierce.