Did anyone else catch Charles Barkley saying Paul Pierce isn’t in the Top 10 Celtics of all time during last night's All Star festivities?
Granted Sir Charles has a knack for saying things absurd, bombastic and just plain incoherent. And the Celtics have 21 retired numbers (plus a nickname) hanging up in the rafters. Paul’s will be swaying in the Garden wind eventually. He’s been in Celtic green for 12 seasons. Through the good times and bad. The dark age and a banner year. A rebuilding and a re-imaging. So sorry Charles, but I respectfully disagree with you on this one.
No you cannot count the great Celtics on just one hand. Or even two hands for that matter. You probably even need to imply a foot or two to get them all in. But the Truth deserves his place on those extremities. For all you righties, it should come somewhere on your left hand. Most likely by the ring finger or pinky.
Pierce has carried this team through it all. From an amazing Eastern Conference championship comeback way back in 2002 (ok so maybe it was just one game against New Jersey, but still. At the time, it was a huge accomplishment for Celtics basketball) to an MVP performance in the 2008 NBA Finals. He could have ducked town and become second fiddle for another potential contender, but Pierce stayed in Boston. IF (notice the CAPS) he finishes his career in green, Pierce should go down as an all-time Celtic. How rare is it to see a star spend his entire career in a single uniform. Yes, Danny Ainge could have traded him and blown up the team. But he didn’t. Instead he chose to improve around him. That has to say something, right?
Let me go all “I” on you for a second (or as I call it, the Bill Simmons syndrome) and list my top 10 Celtics. Keep in mind I was born in 1983, and my first exposure to Celtics basketball was Reggie Lewis followed by Rick Pitino (please take a moment to shutter and/or vomit). In no particular order….
No real explanation needed. He never donned a uniform, but the man was one of the founding fathers of the NBA. He made the Celtics and created the mystique of wearing green. If you ever encounter a “Celtics fan” who doesn’t know what Red means, punch them in the face. When they get up, hit them again, only harder.
Again, is there any explanation needed? Defense, team ball, and most importantly winning. 11 championships in 13 years. 11 CHAMPIONSHIPS IN 13 YEARS.
The local yokel. Magician of the hardwood. Combined with Red and Russell, he created NBA basketball. If I have to go on, punch yourself in the face.
Mr. Clutch. Russell played the D, Cousy made the passes. So who took the shots? Sam Jones, that’s who. He has a ring for every finger. Perhaps the best part is he was originally drafted by the Lakers. Back when they were in Minnesota. Thank you very much.
Sixth Man to Super Star. He represented what Celtics basketball was all about. As a rookie, he came off the bench to help an aging Celtics team to continue their winning ways. Then he took the team over. Oh yeah, I think he stole a ball once.
How do you replace Bill Russell. Well, you really don’t, but Cowens was the next best thing. Undersized and underappreciated, he led the Celtics to a pair of championships in the 70s. In today’s day in age, he played (figurative speaking) balls out Until he took a year off to get his “head straight” but after 2 banners, lets not hold that against him.
The Man. The Legend. Represented what 80’s basketball was all about. He reinvented the game (along with Magic Johnson) and rejuvenated a fan base. Won three championships for the Celtics, and reestablished the greatest rivalry in sports (along with Magic, notice a connection?). Bird was the complete player, and Red knew it. He drafted him a year before he came out of college, willing to take a risk that he wouldn’t sign and re-enter the draft. The move payed off (like 95% of Auerbach’s moves) and now we all have stories to tell our kids. As well as awesome McDonald’s commercials.
The Chief. Named after the strong, silent giant in One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest (courtesy of Cedric Maxwell, who else?) he joined Bird and Kevin McHale to make up the original Big Three. Won three NBA titles with the Celtics (and a fourth with the Bulls, but we won’t hold that against him) and had possible one of the greatest rainbow shots of them all. Not to mention, you have to give props to anyone that wore the #00. (As a side note, when I first started working at WBZ, Parrish was one of the first athletes I got to meet in studio. Possibly the tallest person I’ve ever come in contact with, but at 5’6” that doesn’t mean anything)
Was the rest of the equation of the Big Three. He came off the bench to start, and then settled into the starting rotation giving the Celtics arguably the greatest backcourt ever. Won 3 Championships with Boston, and took down Kurt Rambis in the 83-84 finals. Lets not forget he traded Kevin Garnett to the Celtics. Yes he got Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes and amazing talent such as Sebastian Telfair and Gerald Green (just make your own joke here) in return, but so far the C’s have got the best of that one.
And that leaves the Truth, Paul Pierce. The longest tenured Celtic on the team, he is third on the all time leading scorers list. After winning a championship, Pierce has claimed his spot as the all time greats. He’s led rag-tag teams that have been torn apart (thanks Pitino), had players such as Vin Baker, Bimbo Coles and Raef LaFrentz, and put a banner in the rafters. Let’s give the man some respect. That includes you Sir Charles. No matter how many $5 taco bell boxes you sell.
*please don’t see any disrespect to players such as Tommy Heinsohn, KC Jones, and the late great Dennis Johnson. They have always been, and always will be great players. And even Charles Barkley for that matter. Although obnoxious and appalling at times, he can still be entertaining.