by Rob Joyce
The Los Angeles Clippers’ Game 7 loss to the Jazz in the Western Conference quarterfinals last weekend didn’t only denote the end of LA’s season. It also marked the end of an illustrious career, as Paul Pierce is officially retiring after 19 seasons in the NBA. A 10-time All-Star, “The Truth” spent the bulk of his career with the Celtics, before bouncing between Brooklyn, Washington and Los Angeles over his final four seasons.
Over the course of nearly two decades, Pierce has compiled a laundry list of accomplishments that one day will land him in Springfield in the Basketball Hall of Fame. Here are the five moments that stand out above the rest.
5) February 5, 2017:
In the city’s sports lore it certainly can’t top the happenings of later that night, when the Patriots won Super Bowl LI, but Pierce’s final game in Boston deserves to stand on its own. By this point Pierce was an aged vet, limited to just 25 games in his final year with the Clippers. However at TD Garden he was placed into the starting lineup by Doc Rivers, and in the final moments of the game was put back in for one final memory, 18 years to the day after his NBA debut.
4) May 9, 2015:
On his last legs, Pierce had one final playoff moment with the Wizards two years ago. In Game 3 of their second round series against the Hawks, he banked in a three at the buzzer to lift Washington to a win. A classic moment in and of itself, Pierce put the exclamation point on things in a postgame interview.
3) May 25, 2002:
In a pivotal Game 3 at home in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Nets, Boston trailed by 21 points through three quarters, and earlier in the game was down by as many as 26. In the fourth quarter, though, Pierce, Antoine Walker and the Celtics found another gear. Pierce went off for 19 points in the final period, including five free throws in the final two minutes as Boston stormed all the way back for a 94-90 win, the seminal moment of the Pierce-Walker era in Boston.
2) May 18/June 5, 2008:
When Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen came to Boston for the 2007-08 season expectations shot up for the Celtics. On the brink of elimination, facing Game 7 against the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference semis, Pierce put forth arguably the performance of his career. Essentially going blow-for-blow against LeBron James, Pierce finished with 41 points on 13-for-23 shooting, lifting the C’s to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Fast forward a round, as Boston is in its first NBA Finals contest since 1987 taking on the Lakers (who else?). In the third quarter of Game 1 Pierce had to be carried off the court with an injury. A few minutes later he re-appeared, scoring 15 points after returning as Boston took Game 1, 98-88.
1) June 17, 2008:
Making his first Finals appearance, Pierce brought home the Celtics’ first championship in 22 years, beating the Lakers to boot in a 131-92 demolition in Game 6. For the series he averaged 21.8 points per game, enough to be named Finals MVP and validate his place in Celtics lore.