by user Bobbyjim45
By: Rob LaBrie
The Boston Celtics… not exactly the epitome of a successful franchise now-a-days. Those of you old-schoolers will think of Bird, Russell, and McHale when you hear “Celtics”. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like Boston will be taking home championships anytime soon. There is really only one phrase that can sum up the C’s in the Danny Ainge era… train wreck. However, there is one star that has stood out in Boston and the star has been shining even brighter lately. In Boston, we call that star “The Truth”.
Paul Pierce has gone from hero to zero, then back to hero again. He was drafted in 1998 by the Celtics as the 10th overall pick. The ex-Jayhawk came in as a rookie with a lot of hype that he certainly lived up to. Pierce was going to bring the Celtics back to the glory days. However, he wasn’t expected to do it alone. He only had to play a Robin role to the Batman that was Antoine Walker.
Things were going pretty good with the Celtics in the playoff picture every year. The team had become regulars in the postseason behind their young guns, Pierce and Walker. Then things got ugly. On May 9th, 2003, Danny Ainge became the Executive Director of Basketball Operations for the Boston Celtics. He was there to get the green and white over the hump. However, nobody anticipated that he would actually become the hump.
His first move was to trade away Antoine Walker, the 7-year Celtics vet. It was a move questioned by many but not exactly criticized too horribly because of some attitude problems with ‘Toine. In the 2003-2004 season, the C’s barely made the playoffs, but were thought of by many as possibly the worst playoff team in history. In-season acquisition, Ricky Davis, played well in support of a team that was mostly carried by Pierce. He became the fastest Celtic in history to reach 10,000 points in that season and little did anyone realize just how much Boston needed those points.
When the 2004-2005 season rolled around, Pierce was getting little respect because of trade rumors. Pierce kept on going with Boston, but his numbers suffered as he only averaged 21.6 points per game during the season, his lowest since the 1999-2000 season. After another completely absurd Danny Ainge move, the reacquisition of Antoine Walker, the Celtics reached the postseason again. However, it would again end in frustration as the Celtics went down in the first round to Indiana. Paul Pierce was considered the goat of the series for committing some serious fouls at the end of game 6 and then getting ejected. Although Boston still won that game due to some Antoine Walker heroics, this was the lowest point of Pierce’s career. He was looked upon as just another selfish superstar.
Ainge let Walker leave again and Boston looked to be in a complete shambles. Although they say looks can be deceiving, this time they weren’t. Paul Pierce was left with an oddly assembled group of inexperienced young players. The season started off about as bad as it gets. Boston was looking like it would be hanging out in the basement with the Knicks and Raptors. However, there was an added spring to Paul Pierce’s step. He had left behind the trade rumors from the past off season and was looking ahead with a positive attitude. He was winning back his fans. Then some magic started to flow within Paul Pierce. He put the Celtics on his back and proceeded to put up 30+ in 14 of 16 games (he scored 20 and 24 in the other games which were both losses). He put the Celtics marginally back into the playoff hunt at only 4 ½ games back of the 8th seed, the 76ers. He’s averaged a career high 27.2 points per game so far this season and he’s done it without much help. The Celtics top secondary option, Ricky Davis, was traded away in the middle of the season.
Pierce has now completely won back the Boston fans that he lost due to his antics in game 6 against the Pacers and during much of that discouraging season. He has become a Golden Boy in Boston again, but when you really think about it, you ask yourself, what is it all for? The Celtics have such a young team that it is likely they will not make the playoffs this year or even next year unless Danny Ainge can wise up and put some players around Pierce.
Pierce has arguably been the MVP of the second half, but he is just wasting the precious few years that he will have in his prime. Paul Pierce has become a superstar in every sense of the word, but instead of winning championships like Duncan, Shaq and Kobe, Pierce has to go through a rebuilding process. Right now, Paul Pierce is stuck in a situation very similar to that of Kevin Garnett and Chris Bosh. He’s a great player wasting away in the prime of his career.
While some of the young guys like Delonte West and Al Jefferson have played well, they do not yet have what it takes to become a winning franchise, and they’re not going to get what it takes to win in the near future with draft picks. Danny Ainge really has two options… he can either trade away some of his core young guys for established stars who know how to win and will compliment Pierce, or he can trade Pierce at the end of the season to get maximum value for him. From there, they can build up a winning foundation for the future. To continue this strategy of rebuilding with Pierce playing the best basketball of his life would be just plain crazy. In fact, you could almost call it “Danny-Ainge-Crazy”.
Wed 03/15/06, 11:17 pm EST