Paul Pierce entered the Basketball Hall of Fame with the Class of 2021 with an impressive resume. More than 26,000 career points, an NBA championship, an NBA Finals MVP, and four All-NBA selections. Most of Pierce’s career came with the Boston Celtics, with whom he played 15 of his 19 seasons. Several of those seasons in the prime of his career came as part of a so-called superteam.
Pierce was joined in Boston by Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen in 2007, and the union immediately produced a title. Their window was a small one, with Allen leaving as a free agent in 2012. Pierce and Garnett departed in a trade to the Brooklyn Nets a year later. But even though Pierce benefited from a superteam, he’s quick to point out why his version was different from others that have followed.
Paul Pierce was an established star before Allen and Garnett arrived
Paul Pierce was the on-court leader for the Boston Celtics and had some taste of success for nine seasons. Boston reached the Eastern Conference Finals in 2002, but that was the zenith. By 2007, the Celtics were a lottery team with 24 victories. Pierce missed nearly half the season with an elbow infection, and Boston actively accumulated ping-pong balls in the lottery.
General manager Danny Ainge masterminded a pair of blockbuster trades in the offseason. On draft night, Ainge traded the rights to fifth overall pick Jeff Green with Wally Szczerbiak, Delonte West, and a 2008 second-round pick to the Seattle SuperSonics for Allen and the rights to LSU big man Glen “Big Baby” Davis.
It was at the end of July 2007 that the Three Amigos Celtics picked up the finishing touch. Boston sent five players, and two 2009 first-round picks to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Garnett, a former NBA MVP who waived his no-trade clause to come to the Cs.
It’s that sequence of events Pierce pointed to as separating the Celtics mini dynasty from the superteams to follow.
Pierce says it took some luck to bring it together for the Boston Celtics
During induction weekend at Springfield, Massachusetts, newly minted Hall of Famer Paul Pierce talked about the difficulties of making a superteam work with the Boston Celtics. It’s a point of pride that the ring he wears bears the same logo as the hat he donned on draft night in 1998.
Per MassLive.com, he believes it was a more significant achievement than collecting a group of free agents:
“I take a lot of pride in that and hang my hat on that. We’re in a different era, a different time. It’s different now; players move around a lot; they manufacture their teams. The way we did it was a little different.”Paul Pierce
He understands some are dubious of his claims.
“People will say I played on the new era superteam, but it’s like, we had to get lucky,” Pierce said. “We got lucky with the draft pick, we got lucky with the trade, we got lucky with Kevin Garnett dropping his no-trade clause.
“So all these things had to line up, whereas today guys manufacture playing with each other, building superteams through free agency, building friendships. And I have nothing against that. That’s why I take pride in being with the team I was with so long, going through the tough times and finally being able to win a championship. The only regret I have is not winning that second one.”
Paul Pierce looking at his future
An acrimonious stint at ESPN ended in April 2021 for Paul Pierce. Fired after a video surfaced on social media appeared to show him using marijuana while hanging out with scantily clad women, he sounds happy to be gone from the network.
Per Sports Illustrated, Pierce is collaborating with Garnett to launch a podcast. Pierce also wants to do a show with his former Boston Celtics teammate centered around world travel.
“Just doing all the s*** we couldn’t do when we played,” Pierce said. “Skydiving. Maybe a bull run in Spain. Get motorcycles and travel around. Experience different cultures, different foods. That would be so much fun.”
He’s also launching a personal marijuana brand, Truth, and partners with the online influencer platform SelfiePop.
Now 43, Paul Pierce is content in retirement and enjoying life. And why wouldn’t he, after adding the ultimate individual accomplishment for a basketball player, induction into the Hall of Fame?
Statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference.