%tags% %cats% Robb: Paul Pierce’s Imprint On Celtics Remains Strong – CBS Boston
By Brian Robb, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — Paul Pierce makes his return to the TD Garden Sunday afternoon, for the first time as a member of the Washington Wizards.

It will be Pierce’s third visit to the Garden as an opponent and after nearly two full seasons now away from Boston, one might think the emotions in Boston may not be as high for this particular return. On the contrary, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens disputed that logic yesterday, noting he believed the imprint that Pierce has left on the team is still as big as ever.

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“Specifically with the older guys with (Rajon) Rondo and (Brandon) Bass,” Stevens said at practice Saturday. “He certainly had a great influence on those guys. Those guys look up to him. But one of the great things about Paul Pierce from what I can tell – and again, I don’t know him well, so it’s hard for me to say – is the way that everyone else talks about him. The way that people in this facility that don’t coach, whether it’s administration or the front office or travel or athletic training or strength and conditioning, everybody loved him. That’s a great legacy to leave on a place.”

Stevens never had a chance to coach Pierce himself, as his arrival came just days after the team traded Pierce and Garnett to the Brooklyn Nets. Still, the second-year coach admitted that the chance to coach the Boston legend would have been a privilege.

“Just for the record, any great, great, great player that wants to play here, it’d be great,” Stevens joked. “Obviously. Certainly that would have been fun to do because he loves basketball, you can tell he really loves Boston. He loved playing here and everything else, and gave the city a great ride during his career. So yeah, you would love to do that but I also understand why (the Celtics made the trade) they did.”

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Now, as Pierce makes the trip to see some familiar faces in Boston yet again this afternoon, another stirring ovation from the TD Garden crowd is expected, and Stevens wouldn’t have it any other way.

“That’s the way it should be,” Stevens said. “I think it’s fun that everybody recognizes that those guys put in a lot of time and really loved being members of this community. I think that’s great.”

Brian Robb covers the Celtics for CBS Boston and contributes to NBA.com, among other media outlets. You can follow him on Twitter @CelticsHub.

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