“It was difficult not only losing, but not understanding what was next. A lot of that went in my head after we lost. It was like is [Kevin Garnett] gonna retire? Are we gonna rebuild? Am I gonna be playing somewhere else? A lot of things went through my head….It really did cross my mind. The way last year went with the trade rumors, the possibility of me being traded the possibility of us rebuilding, it was hard not to think about it, sometimes it wears on you mentally because you can’t know what your future is gonna be or what’s gonna be your next step.” -Paul Pierce
Paul Pierce was loyal when things were awful, and after experiencing a ring in 2008, he thought things might get bad again…But they didn’t. Danny Ainge pulled some more miraculous roster tinkering and went ahead and signed Kevin Garnett to an extension. The move signaled to Pierce that the Celtics were serious about trying to contend and not making an effort to rebuild. There’s no reason for a guy who is about to turn 35 to have to endure a rebuilding effort, and C’s fans couldn’t have really blamed Pierce if he decided to go chase another ring.
Still, Pierce was loyal and gave Ainge time to make the changes. The natural thoughts that ran through his head were understandable, but he wasn’t over-reactionary to them.
That’s commendable in a sport and culture which almost rewards impatience. Celtics fans are hoping the is able to raise their 18th banner this year, and if they do, Pierce will look up and smile, knowing his patience was rewarded with yet another ring. He’s already going to go down as one of the best Celtics ever, after passing Larry Legend on the All-Time scoring list and helping the team win its 17th banner in 2008.