If I asked you to name the starting lineup for you favorite NBA team could you do it? Not last year’s lineup or the lineup of the team in the 80’s but this coming season’s? It’s ok, I couldn’t do it for my team, The Boston Celtics, either.
There was a time when you could name the starting five for your team whenever you were asked. This time has since passed and every year the big news is what superstar is accepting more money to play on a different team. My favorite player however is an exception. The average amount of time an NBA player spends on one team is about 3.5 years when you get rid of the outliers. Paul Pierce however, is not one for tradition. He would have fit better on the Celtics teams from the 70’s and 80’s as he played for them for 16 seasons. The average career of an NBA player is 11 seasons, but he has played 18 and 16 of them for the Boston Celtics.
This loyalty is rare these days. Why is that? The answer is money. Today our society and professional sports specifically are based on money alone. So many players desire contracts that allow them to opt out at any point that they are offered more money, (LEBRON). Pierce, going against the grain, has taken pay cuts instead. When the team in 2007 was put together, Pierce took a pay cut to allow for stars, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to join the team. A year later the Celtics went on to win the championship.
Before the championship the Celtics were a losing team, straight up. They had losing records for 3 years straight and the worst record in the league before the 2007 season, yet Pierce stuck with them despite trade rumors. The passion Pierce had for this team really came to fruition in the NBA finals against their rivals, THE LOS ANGELES LAKERS. Pierce left with an injury only to come back and lead his team to victory in the first game of the series (15 point fourth quarter) where they would eventually win the title.
Pierce, embodies a larger idea that is all but obsolete these days. The ability to remain loyal to one team, your team. Nobody that knows the Celtics would dare argue that the Celtics weren’t his team in the past decade. They were once Bird’s, Walton’s and now Pierce’s. His character is one that is not seen anymore in professional sports, where the team is more important than the money or yourself.
A lot of us have nicknames, but not many of us are nicknamed by Shaquille O’neal. Paul Pierce earned the nickname, “The Truth” by Shaq back in 2001. “Write this down, Paul Pierce is the Mother Fucking Truth,” said Shaq after the game. His nickname came to represent his style of play. He is the truth of what the NBA should be, a league where players are loyal to their teams and where winning the game is what drives you every day, not making a paycheck. I can’t tell you how many hours I spent taking Paul Pierce’s infamous elbow shot, a spot where he’s hit many game winners for the Celtics, only to realize he is more talented than I. His passion and loyalty inspire me and are unmatched by any player in the NBA these days. I am not the only fan who sees this, even after Pierce was traded away, the reaction of the fans was one of unmatched love for the player as they celebrated with this video upon his return. (Turn it up to feel the passion)
He is and will always be “The Truth” that the NBA and fans everywhere are still trying to handle.