Paul Pierce really, really wanted his own tribute! - 3-way guilt prevails
My readers know that I have not been silent on the Paul Pierce/Isaiah Thomas double-tribute originally scheduled for February 11, nor have I been undecided on the issue. I wrote in CelticsLife about Paul being unhappy with the matter and again, in another article, asking for empathy from Thomas with a request to change the date.
All's well that ends well, and Isaiah has indicated that he no longer wishes to have his own tribute on Paul Pierce's day. Celtics boss Danny Ainge was in a tight spot on this whole saga. The Thomas/Kyrie Irving trade was the right move, but Ainge took a lot of flak for it and there had to be some level of guilt on his part. Trading Isaiah after the death of his sister, Chyna, and an injury to his hip was not taken well by all Celtics fans.
I'd like to thank the Celtics for their gracious offer to play a video tribute on Feb 11th celebrating my 3yrs in Boston. But since it appears this has caused some controversy w/ Paul Pierce's night I'd ask the Celtics instead to focus all of their attention on #34's career.
But a vice has two jaws, and the one pushing from his other side was that he knew Paul deserved his own tribute. More guilt for Danny. Talk about a tough spot. Enter the third spoke of the guilt-wheel. Isaiah Thomas had a plan for February 11 where he would get cheers from the crowd and then take the Celtics team apart on the court. No one can blame him for that, but the date was wrong, and he knew it. Thomas no doubt experienced a bit of guilt of his own. Here are ESPN's Jackie MacMullan and Chris Forsberg with Paul's comments on the issue:
"(Thomas) had a shot to be honored," Pierce said. "You came to Boston. Whether you are playing or not, you should have had your tribute then. I just don't see how, if someone is having a jersey retirement, they're going to be running other tributes for other players.
"Danny tried to sell me on it, but I told him, 'He had a shot, Danny, and he punked you on it. He pretty much dictated everything.' They let it happen because they felt sorry how (the trade to Cleveland) went down. It's guilt. That's what it is."
Former Celtics Champion, Rajon Rondo, always his outspoken self, injected his two cents into the controversy:
Rajon Rondo was irked to hear that the Celtics would honor Isaiah Thomas on any night. "What has he done?” Rondo asked. Told that he led the Celtics to the conference finals last year, Rondo remarked, “Oh, that’s what we celebrate around here?”
The big winner here is not Paul Pierce or Isaiah Thomas. It is Danny Ainge. This was the only reasonable solution. The solution had to come from Isaiah, and it did. No video tribute for him on February 11. Danny is out of the vise, and all's well. Whew!
I need to close this article with a few words on the passing of JoJo White. I often joke about my daughter, Lisa, being a stalker of Celtics players for photo opportunities, and even the retired stars were not safe. The photo to the left is a photo of Lisa with the late and great JoJo White. Author Marc C. Bodanza and JoJo were promoting their book, Make It Count: The Life and Times of Basketball Great JoJo White.
JoJo passed away recently after a battle with cancer. Lisa had talked with him at length and told me how gracious he was. A true superstar and gentleman. He came onto the court for introductions with the distinctive Philadelphia School Boy Shuffle and then played his heart out on the court. That heart finally gave out after 71 years of life. But the heart and part of that life were made for Boston and the Celtics. A Very special guy.
Follow Tom @TomLaneHC
Pierce photo via Damian Dovarganes/AP
JoJo White/Lisa Lane photo via Jim McCarty