Editor’s note: This is the fourth in a week-long series which will ask fans to determine the face of each pro sports franchise in Boston. We’ve already gotten answers for the Red Sox, Bruins and Patriots.
Of all the sports teams in town, none has the championship history of the Boston Celtics.
From Bob Cousy to Bill Russell to Larry Bird, and with Red Auerbach behind it all, the Celtics have long been an integral part of the sports identity of this town.
Though the team experienced a decades-long drought following the ’86 title, but the championship fabric was restored with 2008’s win over the Lakers.
The team has gone through numerous character changes in recent years, but aside from the Celtics leprechaun painted at the center circle, who’s the face of the franchise?
“Six-seven, from Kansas, the captain, and The Truth, number 34, Paullllll Pierce!”
It’s been the introduction for Pierce since 2003, as the Los Angeles native has fully embraced life as a Boston Celtic since he was drafted in 1998, and if all goes according to plan, it will continue until the day he retires.
He will finish his career one day with either the second-most or most games ever played in a Celtics uniform in the history of the storied franchise, which alone says plenty about Pierce. He’s also second all time in Celtics scoring with more than 23,700 points, second behind only Larry Bird in scoring average, fourth in assists, seventh in rebounds, his name among legends and Hall of Famers in too many categories to list.
Nicknames can often be a silly thing in sports, but there’s no question that Pierce has proven to be The Truth.
As great as Pierce is and has been for a long time, Kevin Garnett is undoubtedly the heart and soul of the Boston Celtics.
Many athletes feign intensity in order to try to rile up the home crowd or prove something, but when Garnett takes the floor and appears to be 100 percent in the zone, it’s 100 percent authentic.
Garnett initially did not want to go to Boston in 2007, but it wasn’t personal. He wanted to win a championship, and the 24-58 Celtics didn’t look like a viable place to do that. However, once Ray Allen was traded to Boston, Garnett saw the potential for greatness, and he made it happen.
The former NBA MVP came to Boston and did anything and everything the team needed him to do. His offensive numbers dipped significantly from his previous seasons, but he earned the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year Award and led the Celtics to a championship. Since then, he’s been nothing but all out all the time as the team’s emotional centerpiece.
Garnett and Pierce are future Hall of Famers, but Rajon Rondo is the team’s most exciting player.
While they’ve been able to survive without him this year, somewhat hurting his apparent value to the team, Rondo has grown into one of the league’s best point guard and is the biggest (only?) reason to be excited about the future of the team.
No player in the league makes more impressive assists than Rondo, who has averaged more than 11 per game for the last three seasons. He improved the biggest hole in his game, this year bumping his field goal percentage up to .484 and offering hope that he can develop into a complete offensive threat, whether he’s passing or shooting.
Rondo may be out this year, but he’ll be back, and he may be around for a long while.
If you went around the league and tried to find a group of people who dislike Doc Rivers, you’d be hard-pressed to gather too many people.
The same couldn’t always be said about Doc’s status in Boston, particularly early in his career with the Celtics. After compiling a 171-168 record coaching the Magic, Rivers didn’t exactly get off to the greatest of beginnings in Boston, leading the team to a 102-144 record in his first three seasons, with many fans calling for the coach to be fired. A funny thing happened though: When Doc finally got a championship-caliber roster, he immediately delivered a championship. He’s 306-148 since 2007.
He’s been through the bad times and the good times in his near-decade in Boston, and he helped solidify his place in Celtics history.