Paul Pierce is getting his jersey retired by the Boston Celtics and had to ask to have the night to himself.
I’m sorry, what?
Apparently, the Celtics thought it would be wise to show a tribute video to recently former player Isaiah Thomas on the same night #34 is sent to the rafters. Those plans have now been scrapped at Pierce’s request. The resurrection of the Celtics franchise under the guidance of GM Danny Ainge and head coach Brad Stevens is a cool story, for sure. Also cool was the ascendance of the previously looked-over Thomas during that resurrection. Last season, Thomas famously gutted out a playoff game days after his sister was tragically killed. The Celtics thought so much of his performance this past offseason that they dealt him to the Cleveland Cavaliers for PG Kyrie Irving.
Now they want to pay homage to him?
Wouldn’t the best way to honor his contributions to the recent Celtic resurgence be to actually- I don’t know- keep him around long term? I don’t want to get crazy here, but the Celtics were 65-102 in Stevens first two years before Thomas came into his own in 2015-2016. After Doc Rivers somewhat abrupt departure, Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Jason Terry were jettisoned for essentially three first round picks. There was no clear path to victory in Beantown until Thomas became, well, Thomas. If you want to pay tribute to those contributions, the way to do it is not to sell him off for parts.
Granted, the Celtics have not missed a beat with Irving and have a better winning percentage so it’s hard to knock the basketball effects of the trade. But don’t go and pay tribute to the guy the same night you pay homage to one of the players that actually stuck around long enough to bring a championship back to Boston. Pierce- the player who ranks third all-time in win shares- should not have to share his night with anyone. Either move Pierce’s night or show your 90-second tribute video to the guy you dumped another night. Pierce, who suffered through the Rick Pitino, Jim O’Brien, and early Doc Rivers years that amounted to a .455 winning percentage over 9 seasons, deserves every moment of this night. More than Garnett, who was integral to the championship and suffered in his own way in Minnesota but wasn’t in Boston long enough.
The Celtics should have known better than to even create this situation.