The Boston Celtics are one of the most storied franchises in all of professional sports. Their history boasts more Championships then any other NBA team, and with each banner, a plethora of Hall of Fame players.Legends of the game like Bill Russell, John Havlicek, Bob Cousy and, of course, Larry Bird. Yet, with all these greats that have long since retired, each leaving a piece of history in the banners above and the floorboards below, there are those who believe that current aging star, Paul Pierce, may be the best of the bunch.
Personally, I do not subscribe to this opinion. But the basketball guru himself, long time sports writer for the Boston Globe, Bob Ryan felt confident in this assessment of Pierce’s rank amongst the other Boston greats. Ryan has been described as “The quintessential American sports writer”, and while he is a legend in his own right, when it comes to Paul Pierce, I don’t believe he’s speaking “The Truth”.
Pierce is (or was) undoubtably a great talent, consistently amongst the league leaders in scoring throughout his career. And unfortunately for him, much of that work was done in the shadows of a basement caliber team that was going nowhere. Of course that all changed when “The Big 3″ was formed back in 2007 and he was finally granted a supporting cast. But for all his success, both personal and team based, I cannot agree that Pierce is the best ever to wear the shamrock.
I have three reasons for my disagreement. The first reason, and perhaps the most important one, is that the game has changed too much. As far as I’m concerned, the books of the golden age of basketball are closed. That’s not to say that what we see now shouldn’t count for anything, but when it comes to making player comparisons with decades in between their respective careers, it’s impossible. Apples and Oranges.
The second reason for my rebuttal is that Pierce’s statistics are slightly inflated because, for the bulk of his career, it was only him out there. Ironically, this same reason for me to consider that asterisk on his resume, also should be viewed as commendable on his behalf. I give him a lot of credit for getting it done night in and night out, without much help from his teammates, but it does inflate his scoring a bit. I only say this for the purpose of comparison, because as soon as Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett came aboard, Pierce’s numbers dropped a bit, which is of course only natural. But the other Boston greats, whom Pierce is being compared to, they maintained their personal statistics throughout the successful days as well. And again, while it’s not to say that Pierce’s scoring output should be discounted though the rough patches of Celtics history, but merely that it is easier to boast grander numbers when you are essentially the only option.
And finally, the third reason why I believe Paul Pierce is not the best pure scorer in Boston Celtics history, two words: Larry Legend.
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