Pierce says KG’s only regret was not coming to Boston five years earlier. What could have been for the Celtics?
Boston fans were treated to a little slice of Celtic heaven last night at TD Garden for Paul Pierce’s jersey retirement as 34 was raised up to the rafters among the seventeen title banners and plenty other numbers from past legends. Pretty fittingly, the Inglewood, CA native’s jersey was hung directly next to the 2008 championship banner which he played as big a part in bringing here as anyone, winning Finals MVP.
Among many other Celtic greats and faces from the past in attendance, there were a few members of that 2008 squad who showed up for Pierce as well. Starting with current Los Angeles Clippers head coach and former Celtic coach for that title run, Doc Rivers, there were a lot of past teammates present too from Rajon Rondo, Leon Powe, Big Game James Posey, the White Mamba, Brian Scalabrine, and the Big Ticket himself, Kevin Garnett.
Referencing a comment made to him earlier in the night by his fellow Big Three member, the old Celtic captain was able to get an already rowdy crowd excited by noting that KG had told him his only regret was not coming to Boston five years earlier.
Knowing that would be the last time we hear PA announcer, Eddie Palladino, belt out a “Pauuullllllll Pierrrrccceee” to a filled Garden was tough enough. Making Boston fans think of what could have been for the early-2000’s Celtics with a 25 year-old Antoine Walker, 25 year-old Garnett, and 24 year-old Pierce all in their primes is just plain mean.
Just imagine that.
It’s summer 2002’ (five years before they got KG), the C’s just came off a tough Conference Finals loss to the New Jersey** Nets and Red Auerbach is hot. “I don’t tolerate this losing in the Conference Finals business! We win rings (or at least lose in the Finals trying) around here!” says Red, as he picks up the phone, calls old pal Kevin McHale, and trades Vitaly Potypenko, Eric Williams, along with 8 years of first-round draft picks for the Big Ticket.
San Antonio Spurs, 2003 Finals champions? Yeah right, Pop! Give me Toine, the Truth, and the Ticket! I don’t even care if Jim O’Brien is coaching! ... All right, maybe I do a little.
Regardless of how it may have played out, if it had ever worked out somehow that Garnett did play for the Green five years or so earlier, Boston may have had another dynasty in town on it‘s hands. Say what you want nowadays, but the league boasted a lot less parity in the mid-2000s after the fall of the Los Angeles Lakers‘ Shaq-and-Kobe dynasty.
KG won an MVP the following year in 2003-04’ yet his Minnesota Timberwolves teams were never able to get out of the West come playoff time and Pierce’s Celtics began to struggle more and more every year after that 02’ ECF defeat. It’s tough not to think the two could have made at least one Finals run in that five-year window especially how well they played when they came together in 2007.
There were a lot of other pieces on that 08’ team besides those two like Doc, Rondo, Posey, Ray Allen, Kendrick Perkins, etc, that all were vital in bringing banner 17 to town but a Garnett-Pierce combo is pretty deadly any way you have it.
I’m not sure there are many fans who’d wish they could change anything about #34’s time here, or KG’s for that matter too. They brought the town it’s first NBA championship in 21 years and the first one a lot of young fans like myself at the time had ever seen their team win. Although I’m sure if they had more time, there might be another banner or two up hanging in the rafters, one is enough for this Celtics fan.