When the clock hit 0:00 in the 4th quarter of Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals, it looked as if time had run out on the Celtics’ core group. The window for them to win a second championship together appeared to be shut. Head coach Doc Rivers was all but assured to take a leave of absence and his assistant Tom Thibodeau was already named as the next head coach of the Chicago Bulls. Paul Pierce was going to opt out of his contract and Ray Allen was entering free agency, which would cut down 67 percent of the new big three (or as I prefer to put it, 50% of their fab four, with Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo representing the other half.)
But now it looks like they are not done. Doc has agreed to come back and coach out the remainder of his contract. Although Pierce did opt out, he restructured his deal for less money, giving the Celtics more cash to spend this summer. As of now, resigning Ray Allen is on the top of Boston’s shopping list. If successful, Boston’s core will gut it out for at least one more title run.
Considering the significant pay cut that Pierce and presumably Allen will take if he comes back, there can only be one incentive; to reverse the results of two weeks ago. It is literally impossible to get closer than the Celtics did without actually winning the championship, so there’s only one result that can be achieved if Boston is to improve its success next year. While giving the Celtics an 18th banner next year will not be their final acts in green, one has to believe that it is the quartet’s last realistic shot at glory together.
So now they embark on their swan song; their own Abbey Road. Whether they succeed or not is unknown, but they must believe they can. There is no other reason Paul Pierce would have left over 20 million dollars on the table. He wants to preserve his legacy as an all-time Celtic. Another ring will put him in the discussion with Russell, Bird, Havlicek and Cousy. He wants to go out as a Celtic, and he wants to go out as a champion. I’m happy to welcome him back to try.