The break-up was for the best.
It really was.
I’m not trying to dismiss the sadness we felt when it happened because that was very real. I’m not going to pretend that seeing Paul Pierce hold up someone else’s jersey in someone else’s city didn’t sting.
But not feeling right and being wrong are two different things.
It was the right thing to do.
For both of us.
And like seeing an ex on Facebook suddenly switch her status to “single” after a year apart, Pierce’s impending free agency has led many to ask the inevitable, emotional question.
“Should we get back together?”
It’s tempting. It always is.
But no, Paul Pierce should not come back to the Celtics next season.
But it’s time to move on.
It’s time for the Celtics to move on from Paul Pierce, the captain emeritus of the Boston Celtics because they’ve got a new captain now. If the team is truly committed to Rajon Rondo as THE captain of these new Celtics, then it’s unfair to bring back the old one. Even if it was with Rondo’s blessing, and even if it was with Pierce’s understanding that he would take a reduced, bench role, the familiarity of Pierce-as-captain would be too present in the room. Pierce is no shrinking violet, and it would be hard for him to wear that Green-and-White without being the leader.
He would be the veteran, after all. He’d be one of the few in that room with the war stories to tell and with wisdom to impart. It would be unfair to deprive new players of that if Pierce were there. So Pierce would naturally have to rise to the role of locker room leader. And maybe that wouldn’t matter in the end. Or maybe it would.
You don’t make a former President a Vice President a year later. Ultimately, everyone just slides back into their comfortable roles of going to the guy who was number 1 for a very long time. Rondo has spent long enough being groomed for the role. It’s time for him to take it.
It’s also time for younger players to learn how to be clutch. It’s time for a new generation to figure out how to be pillars for this franchise and the city it represents. It’s time for other guys to learn the “Celtic Way” and find a way to stand next to the Birds, Havliceks, Russells, and yes, Pierces, in the annals of Celtics lore.
Mother birds push their chicks out of the nest at some point. They either learn how to fly, or they become part of the food chain.
Of course, this entire discussion becomes moot if Pierce decides all this on his own and doesn’t even care to consider Boston. For the first time in his 16 NBA years, Pierce actually gets to do the recruiting tours and hear how much teams want him to play for them. He’ll be courted. He’ll get to choose a destination. And with a year or two left in the tank, it’s hard to believe he’ll choose to go where he’s been. It’s time for something new.
I’ve long said that a year with Doc Rivers in his home town of Los Angeles will probably be the most appealing option. He’ll finally get to play in front of his friends and family just miles from his childhood home. He’ll get to do it with a coach he knows and respects. And he’ll get to wear “Los Angeles” on his chest without pissing of the Laker-hating fans in his adopted home. I don’t care what hat he wears, this is his time to live out a childhood dream of playing at home.
I really do believe Pierce will come back some day. I think he should come back some day and be part of the franchise whose legacy he enhanced.
Just not next season. Not as a player.
It’s time to move on.