On Wednesday, as Boston Celtics forward Paul Pierce sank his 20,000th point on a free throw, my buddy and I started to have the conversation of where ‘The Truth’ ranks in Celtic lore.
As member No. 36 of the 20,000-point club, Pierce has all but booked a ticket to Springfield, Mass., where the Hall of Fame resides, as well as a spot in the Garden’s rafters. But where, exactly, does this Celtic great rank among his fellow brotherhood — one that proudly boasts the most championships of all NBA teams?
After signing a four-year contract extension this summer, Pierce sealed his fate as a lifelong Celtic. If that weren’t enough, the new tattoo encrypting ‘The Truth’ in Celtic green on his forearm tells you all you need to know about the eight-time all-star.
When it’s all said and done, it’s pretty much a certainty that Pierce will pass Larry Bird in points, as Bird sits at 25th all-time with 21,791. If Pierce scores 1,500 a season until his contract ends, he would be right around Celtic great John Havlicek with 26,395, good for first all-time in Celtics’ history and 12th all-time.
What would help Pierce’s résumé even more than climbing the all-time points chart would be to add at least another championship. When comparing Celtics legends, the first thing to look for is the amount of titles. With more championships than any other franchise, each true Celtic legend has won at least one title.
In fact, multiple championships would be needed for Pierce to reach Bird or Bill Russell territory. Bird, in his lustrous career won three MVPs and three NBA Championships, while Russell won 11 titles in 13 years, including eight in a row and one as a player-coach. It appears no one in history will repeat what the great Russell did, let alone any Celtic.
A better barometer to compare careers with would be that of Bird, which after closer examination, Pierce’s numbers come close to matching that of Larry Legend.
With four years remaining in his Celtics career, Pierce could overtake Bird as the all-time leader in steals and blocks in addition to the aforementioned points, and could close the gap in rebounds and assists considerably — putting him in the top five in each of the categories.
So where does ‘The Truth rank’? If he plays out his four-year career without gaining another championship ring, regardless of the numbers, it would be hard to place him as a top five Celtic. While his numbers may surpass those of Havlicek, Kevin McHale, Bob Cousy and Dave Cowens, he still comes up short in the ring department.
However, if Pierce is able to ride the Big Three to another championship or two, he could catapult himself up to No. 3 on the list, just behind Bird and still miles away from Russell.
No matter where he may end up when his Celtic career ends, Pierce’s legacy deserves a cozy spot above the parquet floor, as he has undoubtedly become not only one of the greatest Celtics of all time, but one of the most underrated forwards to