If there was a do-over of the 1998 NBA Draft, Paul Pierce probably would have been either the No.1 or 2 pick overall. Fortunately for Celtics fans, it didn't work out that way.
His initial challenge was being part of a franchise he disliked as a child and that embodied championship basketball. His West Coast allegiance soon became a thing of the past once he understood what it meant to be a Boston Celtic.
Pierce was one of the lone bright spots of the 1998 draft, and he delivered a championship for the Boston Celtics. But therein lies the question about his legacy as a Celtic. He only has one banner hanging in the Garden. Heck, even prodigal son Celtics radio announcer Cedric Maxwell has two.
He understands that one is not enough and his window of opportunity is closing. Pierce has one guaranteed year left on his contract as well as a team option for 2013-14. It turned out to be a great move for Celtics management because they already have his replacement in Jeff Green.
The steady play of budding superstar Rajon Rondo and the addition of "Uncle Jeff" has given them hope for a future beyond Paul Pierce.
Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers have proven that when it comes to raising another banner, they are concerned about the team and not any one individual player. Because of this outlook, Boston has done a very good job of keeping the team relevant in spite of an aging core.
After getting to the summit of NBA glory once and failing to close the deal the second time, this may be his last run as a Celtics starter. In fact, given the presence of Green and his renewed zest for life and basketball, I am finding it hard to say that it is a done deal.
For the first time in his Celtics career, there is a legitimate challenger for his minutes at small forward. Pierce has never been known for his physique, but things will have to change in order for things to remain the same. His competitive nature will drive him to be in the best shape of his career and test his mettle as a Celtic.
The hallmark of a Celtic great is the ability to do what’s right for the team and deliver more than one championship. The majority of those banner contributors have gone on to the Hall of Fame and had their numbers retired by the team. There is a strong indication that PP will be one of them.
The Captain knows it's all about hoisting the 18th banner for the Boston Celtics and his legacy and right to be called a Celtic great.
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