Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Paul Pierce's Outstanding Season

It's been a while since I've posted anything here and a lot of that has to do with the fact that the Celtics really stink this year (the Bulls too). The NBA has been interesting overall for sure, but the local malaise is tough.

But I was thinking a lot about Paul Pierce lately because he's been having monster games, and mostly in losing efforts. The consensus at home and at large is that Pierce is having his best season as a pro, and I don't disagree. Which makes it all the more frustrating to see the Celtics lose inspite of those efforts. As an example, I went to the Phoenix game last week and naturally the Celtics were getting dusted handily by the Suns at the half. Pierce exploded for 20 points in the third quarter and single handedly got the C's back into the game. And it was just that. His enthusiasm and emotion were infectious on the court. The things you don't see on TV that you can see at a game make a difference. On one play when Delonte crashed to the hoop and drew a foul, Pierce was loving it and trying to psyche up the crowd. In the huddle during timeouts he was vocal and talking to the young guys (though Scalabrine was all over the white board. I guess that's where his basketball IQ comes through. Thanks Danny.). I was thoroughly impressed. And I was one who was advocating for trading Pierce this offseason to truly get the team going young. But now I'm glad they didn't trade him.

And this all got me to thinking about my favorite Celtics players. The legends were all a little before my time. They were great, but I only watched the tale end of the dynasty. Only saw Bird gritting through back injuries and producing minor heroics and still lighting up the Garden. My real first favorite player with the C's was with Reggie. Reggie's cool manner on the court and his old school scoring style won me over instantly. He was great. I bought his jersey at the first Celtics game I ever went to (at the Garden against O'Neal and the Magic). It was great. And Reggie died early leaving us asking what if? Well I think I can say that Pierce has supplanted Reggie in every single way and yet may never be as beloved by the C's fans. Maybe that's because Reggie played so closely with and was directly connected to The Team or maybe that's because Reggie wasn't the man long enough for his flaws to be dissected endlessly by the fans and media. It's hard to say. But I feel lucky getting a guy like Pierce on the C's. He's a pleasure to watch play and he's only gotten better over time. I'm glad the Celtics didn't trade him because it almost seems impossible that they could get value for him. And without Pierce, the Celtics would be truly unwatchable.