Brian Robb: Too many to list. There are the obscure regular season game-winners, like the impossible corner 3 against the Wizards back in 2005. The 2002 fourth quarter comeback against the Nets in the conference finals will always rank amongst the best. The Game 7 showdown with LeBron in 2008 has to take the cake though, beating the best in the world, with an assist from Red Auerbach at the free throw line to clinch it.
Brendan Jackson: 2003, Game Four of the Opening Round series against the Indiana Pacers. My friend Dev and I originally had seats in the 300s against the wall. Dev had just broken his leg a week before, so to accommodate his crutches, the FleetCenter put us up in the Halo. With the 3rd quarter winding down in a hotly-contested, back-and-forth game, Paul Pierce settled in for one of his many career buzzer-beater attempts. From our vantage point, all you could see was Pierce and Al Harrington trash talking each other and the bottom of the net. We knew it was going in before anyone else in the building. Sometimes when I want to feel that level of elation again, I watch this video:
Michael Pina: The most emotional I’ve ever been watching Paul Pierce play basketball was during Game 1 of the 2008 NBA Finals. The dramatic comeback (and it was dramatic in real time) from a possibly serious knee injury to knocking down two huge threes was so amazing. Those shots are why Pierce is a basketball hero.
2. How will Pierce do this upcoming season?
Brian Robb: I expect to Pierce to match his per minute numbers from last season, albeit with a reduced workload. He had a tremendous second half of the season last year, all playing with a pinched nerve in his neck, that probably would have kept him out of the second round of the playoffs (if the C’s advanced, according to sources). With defenses unable to key on Pierce game-in and game-out now, his outside shooting prowess and strong work on the glass should continue to shine in New York.
Brendan Jackson: Pierce and Joe Johnson already tried to play together once before (albeit for half a season and before Johnson settled into his career) and it didn’t work out. I’m a little nervous to see how two guys who are most effective with the ball in their hands share the same court. Given the amount of talent on Brooklyn’s roster, I think Pierce will eventually settle into his role. Season Averages Predictions: 15 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assist.
Michael Pina: For the first time in his career he won’t be the go-to scorer at the end of quarters or games, unless presented with a favorable one-on-one match-up. He won’t have the ball in his hands, looking to attack the defense in one form or another on nearly every single possession he’s out there. But Paul Pierce will still thrive next year. He’s one of the best three-point shooters in the world, both spotting up and off the bounce, understands team defense more than almost every other small forward in the league, and is still an excellent rebounder. Pierce’s role will be reduced dramatically, but that’s exactly what he needs.
3. What will his legacy be as a Celtic?
Brian Robb: I defer to Bob Ryan here: The best pure scorer in Celtics history.
Brendan Jackson: Pierce makes the starting five in the Celtics All Star team as the team’s Shooting Guard. The rest of the roster includes Bill Russell at Center, Kevin McHale at Power Forward, Larry Bird at Small Forward, and you pick the point guard (because I refuse to). One caveat: John Havlicek is the sixth man, no matter what.
Michael Pina: He’s one of the three or four greatest players to ever put on a Celtics jersey. Setting the number of championships won aside, Paul Pierce’s name will be synonymous with Bill Russell and Larry Bird in Celtics lore.