Celtics legend Paul Pierce, a future first ballot Hall of Famer, was one of Isaiah Thomas’ biggest inspirations that he admired during his time with Boston. The two may cross paths again on February 11th, however, and The Truth has spoken about it. General Manager Danny Ainge’s plan of the Thomas tribute video tribute being played during the night of Pierce’s jersey retirement does not sit well with number 34.
On ESPN’s “The Jump,” pierce stated that, “I’m not saying Isaiah shouldn’t get a tribute video … but on February 11, the night I get my jersey retired, I’m not sure I want to look up at the JumboTron and see Isaiah highlights.”
Paul Pierce on The Jump: “I’m not saying Isaiah shouldn’t get a tribute video … but on February 11, the night I get my jersey retired, I’m not sure I want to look up at the JumboTron and see Isaiah highlights."
— Chris Forsberg (@ESPNForsberg) January 4, 2018
Pierce is 100% right. Before going further, however, this is not a story to rag on Thomas, who brought the city of Boston something special. Thomas inspired all of us with the way he played and handled himself during the 2016-17 season, and I applaud him for that. But Pierce does have a point that Thomas could have gone about this in a better way.
The night of February 11th is supposed to be all about Pierce and what he gave the franchise over his 15 seasons. The Celtics announced that his jersey retirement ceremony would be after the game, which differs from Richard Hamilton and Kobe Bryant’s recent ceremonies, which were put on at halftime after being rushed. Pierce mentioned he liked how Bryant was celebrated during each time out, something that he would love to see happen to him.
Paul Pierce noted how he was present for Kobe’s jersey retirement and liked how the Lakers celebrated him during timeouts.
"I enjoyed watching that throughout the game. Hopefully the Boston Celtics will do that for me. I”m not sure I want to see an Isaiah video that night."
— Chris Forsberg (@ESPNForsberg) January 4, 2018
Since the news of Thomas’ request, the Cavs guard has stressed that he wanted his family in Boston and he be at full strength before the Celtics celebrate his accomplishments. But to ask the Celtics to hold off on a tribute, to then make them have to do it the night of possibly their second greatest player in history, to me is unfair. Of course Pierce wants February 11th to be his night. That is the right move.
With that being said, there was no video tribute last night, which means there must be one in the future (some people believe the standing ovation last night was enough, but c’mon people, really?). I think Thomas needed to allow this to happen last night. Celtics fans are different than most NBA fan bases: they love and cherish their stars in a unique way. Thomas’ video would have meant the same and he would have gotten showered with love regardless if he were playing or not. Memories would have rushed through his mind while watching the video. Chants of IT and MVP when he was at the free throw line made him feel special, and drove him to give it his all for his new city.
I can see where Thomas is coming from, with wanting to stick it his former teammates by playing against them. To feel what it’s like to play on the Garden floor as an opponent after everything that has transpired will be special. But why couldn’t he play 19 minutes and score 17 points against Boston last night instead of Portland on Tuesday? Those 17 points would have given the Cavs the win over Boston (who won 102-88). That way he could have played (and done well I may add), have his tribute during a timeout, take in all the appreciation, and not have to take away from Pierce, who is obviously a little bothered about the situation.
Again, IT on the Celtics was otherworldly and no one can take that away from him. But to me, Thomas has to respect The Truth’s legacy. Thomas studied Pierce’s game and the way he lead countless teams through continuous playoff runs. To me, he should respectfully stay out of the way. Pierce was on a different level and has done way too much to have some of the spotlight taken away. The 2008 Finals MVP will always be a hero in Boston, for both his on and off the court work. Both players were superheroes for this city. Paul Pierce is like Batman and Thomas is Spider-Man: one historic hero that has done just about everything for one city and is atop the totem pole. The other, a well-known hero that made his mark in a different way, and is still considered one of the best.
Take your pick on the superhero analogy, but the point remains the same. Pierce understands the situation, and although he may have been laughing while saying it, he has told his superhero colleague the honest truth, “Your video tribute should be sent to you on Twitter or Instagram.”