Celtics fans knew the day would come; they just didn’t know when.
Perhaps, it would be after the disappointing 24-win season in 2007. But General Manager Danny Ainge stunned the basketball world when he acquired two future hall of famers: Kevin Garnett from Minnesota and Ray Allen from the Seattle Supersonics (now known as the Oklahoma City Thunder).
Maybe it would be around the trade deadline in 2011? But Celtics fans breathed a sigh of relief when it was only Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson who were traded to the Thunder for Jeff Green.
Or possibly after the 2012 season? Instead Celtics fans angrily waved goodbye to the player who Rajon Rondo now refers to as “Number 20,” Ray Allen, when he punched his one-way ticket to South Beach and signed with the Miami Heat — the team that eliminated Boston from the playoffs that season.
Rumors swirled. Celtics fans held their breath — pleaded and hoped for a different outcome, one that would secure Paul Pierce’s place on the team until he retires.
Those rumors eventually came true. The Celtics were going in a direction that wouldn’t involve Number 34.
This summer, when Boston traded their 2008 finals MVP to the Brooklyn Nets along with Kevin Garnett, a 15-year odyssey ended and a fanbase was left hurt and in denial.
Fifteen seasons ago, when Pierce entered the draft, the last team he wanted to suit up for was the rival of his hometown of Inglewood, Calif.’s team: The Boston Celtics.
Ten all-star appearances and a championship later, the question of Pierce returning to the organization to end his career looms.
Before the trade, Pierce told the Boston Herald that he would like to retire in Boston.
“You know, I want to retire as a Celtic,” said Pierce. “That’s been my longtime goal. But it’s not in my control. The organization, they make their decisions, but it’s something I desire.”
Pierce has a year left in his contract with the Nets. If Pierce re-signed with the Celtics, the deal would not be long term. Chances are it would be a 10-day contract, maybe even one.
Former Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra said it was his dream to retire with the team that has meant so much to his family. Garciaparra and the Sox agreed on a one-day contract back in 2010 in order for him to retire in front of the Fenway faithful.
Pierce could do the same if he wanted to.
Boston fans were able to say farewell to their beloved shortstop, and Celtics fans hope that they will be able to do the same. With a year remaining on his contract, Pierce has expressed his desire to test free agency or take into consideration the idea of retiring.
In a recent interview, Pierce stated that a return to Boston is imminent. He would like to open a business in Boston when all is said and done.
“Ultimately, what I would like to do is have a business in Boston,” he said. “Maybe like a sports bar. I would love to do something like that here. None of the former Celtics great players have come and done that. I thought about it, and why hasn’t anyone come and opened up a nice restaurant? You see the Don Shula restaurant, the Michael Jordan restaurant, and Magic [Johnson] has the theaters in LA. Why is nobody here? All this history, all of these championships and love, why has nobody done that?"
“I am going to still have relationships here. I’m always going to come to this city. Every year, when I’m done, I’m going to have a reason to come here.”
To Boston, Pierce is not only the second all-time leading scorer in franchise history.
He’s not only the leader in three-point field goals made and attempted, and he’s not only leading the category for free-throws made and attempted; he’s what Boston sports represents. He was the heart and soul of the C’s. During his 15-year stint, he has captured the hearts of Celtics fans. The possibility of Pierce returning home is not a long shot. Just like the trade, it’s a matter of when.
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