BOSTON (CBS) — Paul Pierce walked into his old stomping grounds on Monday, ready to take his next step in life.
His playing days are over, but before going forward, the future Hall of Famer needed a pair of familiar shoes to take that step. And a shirt, and a pair of shorts.
“The Truth” walked into the Celtics’ practice facilities in Waltham donning an Inglewood t-shirt and a pair of Brooklyn Nets shorts. Pierce in a Nets uniform was tough enough for Celtics fans to see when he was traded along with Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry to Brooklyn back in 2013. At the time, it was tough on Pierce too.
But on Monday, Pierce used those Nets shorts to have a little fun with Celtics president of basketball ops. Danny Ainge, the man who traded him away four years ago.
“Hey Danny, see this?” Pierce said of his shorts, as relayed by ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan in a wonderful piece published on Tuesday morning. “This is where you sent me!”
After draining thousands of shots and faking out defenders with his patented up-fake in Boston for the first 15 years of his 19-year NBA career, setting some franchise records in the process, Pierce spent time with Brooklyn, Washington and the Los Angeles Clippers before retiring after last season. But that paperwork wasn’t made official until Monday, when he signed one more contract with the team that drafted him 10th overall in 1998, inking a one-day deal with the Celtics.
In turn, Pierce was given a pair of his signature sneakers, which equipment manager John Connor kept on standby for this very moment, along with a proper T-shirt and pair of shorts. With “Boston” featured on his chest once againe, Pierce put up a few shots on the practice floor, ending his playing days in the gym he spent so many hours fine-tuning his game.
Pierce couldn’t imagine ending his career any other way.
“Like I said from the beginning, I always wanted to retire as a Celtic,” Pierce told MacMullen on Monday. “We did it quietly. No need to make a spectacle out of it.”
Pierce may have grown up a fan of the Los Angeles Lakers on the other side of the NBA’s most historic rivalry, but Boston will forever be his basketball home.
“This was the place that was always with me,” Pierce said. “I spent 15 years of my life here. I had all three of my kids here. I had a chance to make a difference in the community. One of the best parts about (being in Boston today) was having people come up and said, ‘Hey, thanks for all the things you did for our city.'”
So now Pierce will move on to his second career, showcasing his talents away from the floor in the world of broadcasting. He’ll head to Bristol, CT, on Tuesday to become a basketball analyst with ESPN, and he’s also hoping to get a chance to do some broadcasting as well.
“I’d like to do both,” he said. “That’s why I signed the contract with Boston [on Monday]. The minute I sign with ESPN, I’m officially retired.”
Pierce will soon be officially retired from basketball and on to his next venture, and he’ll do so taking his last shot as a member of the Boston Celtics. It’s fitting final chapter for a player who will soon take his place among the franchise’s greats in the TD Garden rafters.