Paul Pierce returned to the TD Garden tonight for the first time since he was traded from the Boston Celtics to the Brooklyn Nets this past offseason. One of the greatest Celtics ever, Pierce received several rousing rounds of applause from the appreciative fans, especially during a video tribute at the end of the first quarter.
It’s been a tough year for both Pierce and the Celtics, but a night like tonight is just what both needed to remember what he brought to the team, and the city, for more than a decade. Kevin Garnett also made his return to Boston, and was welcomed with open arms from the fans as well. All that was missing was a throw-in moment for Jason Terry and a “now trade Rondo” chant.
The game itself was anti-climactic, as both teams struggled through a sloppy first half and never really got on track until the fourth quarter. Pierce finished with only six points on 2-for-10 shooting from the field, but that never mattered in a game that was much more about all the good he had done in the past for a franchise that struggled through his early career and peaked in a championship once Garnett and Ray Allen came to town. The Nets got the win, and the Celtics got themselves one more loss closer to a top pick in the draft.
The transition away from the Pierce era is in full swing already, but tonight was a great reminder of exactly how much he has meant to the franchise. He matured right in front of our eyes, and seeing him come back in another uniform may not have been the way we wanted to end things, but it was a fittingly emotional night for a player that gave his all to Boston everytime he wore the Boston uniform.