Paul Pierce signs deal to retire as a Celtic
LAS VEGAS — He came to Boston as the 10th overall pick in the 1998 NBA draft and he left in 2013 as a 10-time All-Star.
Yesterday, Paul Pierce returned to Boston to sign another contract that would allow him to retire a Celtic.
Nicknamed “The Truth” by Shaquille O’Neal after scoring 42 points against the Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center in March 2001, Pierce went on to climb the Celtics charts. He is second to John Havlicek on the franchise scoring list with 24,021 points.
But the figure that means the most in the Celtics way of thinking is 2008, or 17. It was in that year that Pierce led the C’s to their 17th NBA championship, being named most valuable player in the Finals as the Celtics took down the Lakers in six games.
Pierce left five years later in the blockbuster trade with Brooklyn, getting dealt with Kevin Garnett in the move that accelerated the C’s rebuilding process. After a season with the Nets, he moved on to Washington, where his banked in 3-pointer won a crucial playoff game for the Wizards.
The last two seasons were spent in his hometown with the LA Clippers, but his basketball home will always be Boston. That’s what prompted the desire of both parties to bring him back for what is essentially a ceremonial signing.
Pierce appeared at the Celtics’ Waltham practice facility and held up a newly made replica of his old green jersey. The number 34 from that piece of clothing will be recreated on one of the banners that hangs above the Garden floor.
There has yet been no date set for the event, but it was clear even while Pierce was still toiling for the Celts that his number would eventually be retired.
“We’re honored that Paul has chosen to retire as a Celtic,” said co-owner and managing partner Wyc Grousbeck in a statement from the team. “He is among the very best Celtics, a champion on and off the court. We congratulate Paul on a Hall of Fame career and look forward to seeing his number raised to the rafters of TD Garden.”
Also in the statement, Pierce said, “It’s an honor to have this opportunity to once again call myself a Boston Celtic. The organization and city took me in and made me one of their own, and I couldn’t imagine ending my career any other way. I’m a Celtic for life.”