When you think about the Boston Celtics, a number of legends should immediately spring to mind—Bill Russell, Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, John Havlicek and so many more. These are names that tend to litter both the rafters of the Boston Garden and the walls of the Hall of Fame.
Of course, it helps when a player spends his entire career wearing that famous green jersey.
That's not to say Paul Pierce won't be remembered as a Boston legend because he spent a season with the Brooklyn Nets, but rather to make sense of Larry Bird's recent comments about the future HOFer who's currently suiting up in the wrong-colored uniform.
"My thing is you would always like to see Paul finish up there, and maybe he will," Bird told Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald. "But it’s tough. These decisions today are more scrutinized than they ever were. But you just hate to see a guy spend his whole career there and win a championship and then see him have to leave."
Now there are a couple notable portions of that quote.
First is the obvious.
Yes, it would've been nice to see Pierce finish his career where he started it. The small forward had spent the first 15 seasons of his career calling Beantown home, becoming a fan favorite, torturing other teams in the Eastern Conference and asserting himself as one of the Tim Duncan All-Stars—the team of players you can't picture in a different uniform.
Continuity is always nice, particularly when talking about sports. But it's also an idealistic view of how business works.
Secondly, Bird's comment is slightly misleading, because Pierce didn't just bolt after winning a championship, which is the subtle implication of the final clause.
After winning a title in 2008, "The Truth" stuck with his franchise for another five seasons, none of which resulted in him adding to his ring collection. Then, as many veterans in the twilight of their careers are wont to do, he pursued an opportunity that would afford him a better shot at a second championship.
So, would he actually return and finish up his career as a Celtic?
"I still wouldn’t get your hopes too high about the potential of Pierce coming back to the Celtics as a player. But he definitely left the door open," writes Jay King of MassLive.com.
King is referring to Pierce's comments about returning to Boston either as a player or in a front-office capacity. Either way, he'd be able to wear green proudly once more, even with a season in black and white under his belt.
Perhaps Bird and Pierce are just on the same page, sharing some sort of telepathic connection you can only gain after spending at least a dozen seasons as a member of the C's.
Larry Legend might have preferred that Pierce spend his entire career playing home games in Boston, but a return at the end of his career is a nice second option.