Paul Pierce: A Look Back Through His Ups and Downs

In case you haven’t heard, Paul Pierce is getting his Celtics jersey raised to the Garden rafters on Sunday. CLNS Media has all your covered.

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I’m not sure in today’s day in age we will see another player who had a career like Paul Pierce had. His ups and downs played out like your favorite melodrama, and he was able to survive 15 seasons in a city as fickle as Boston. But the Celtics won a lot with Pierce, you say? The Celtics missed the playoffs in five of those 15 seasons, and the Celtics overall record during Pierce’s Celtics career was 635-546.

Pierce’s prime was nearly wasted by Paul Gaston’s poor ownership skills, and teammates who weren’t championship caliber. That changed the moment Danny Ainge struck a draft-day deal for Ray Allen, and was cemented once the Kevin Garnett trade was ultimately finalized, nearly 10 years after Pierce was drafted. Let’s take a look back at the various stages of Pierce’s illustrious career.

Paul Pierce drops to 10

This draft has been much discussed, but Pierce dropped to No. 10 overall in the 98’ draft. Outside of Dirk Nowitzki, Pierce was by far the greatest player to come out of this draft.

Pierce impresses despite messy situation

Pierce lands in an interesting scenario to say the least. Rick Pitino has full control of the franchise, and has already traded future Finals MVP Chauncey Billups away. Ron Mercer would spend a year with Pierce before getting traded, leaving Antoine Walker as Pierce’s main running mate.

The results were a mixture of entertainment, disappointment and what-ifs.

Pitino resigned from his position on Jan. 9, 2001. His Celtics career can be epitomized by this:

May 25, 2002 (Boston, MA)

The weight that was lifted off of the Celtics’ collective shoulders once Pitino left was monumental. The team played harder, looser and with more urgency under new coach Jim O’Brien. That passion culminated in one of the greatest comebacks in NBA history during Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the New Jersey Nets.

Read On To See How Pierce Fared Playing Under Then-New Head Coach Doc Rivers