On Saturday, September 11, a bona fide Boston Celtics legend will finally take his rightful place among the greatest ballers of all time. Specifically, Paul Pierce — who spent 15 years in Beantown and won an NBA championship in 2008 — will enter the hallowed halls of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
He won’t be alone as he traverses this defining leg of his hardwood journey, either. Per an announcement from the Hoops Hall on Wednesday, Pierce will be officially inducted by his brother-in-arms and fellow ’08 title winner Kevin Garnett.
As noted in the release, members of the 2021 HOF class were asked to select previous inductees to accompany and present them to their peers. Garnett was enshrined in May as a member of the 2020 class.
Pierce & Garnett Reclaimed Boston’s Lost Glory
After starring for three years for the Kansas Jayhawks, Pierce was selected by the Celtics with the No. 10 overall pick in the 1998 NBA draft. He was an instant hit with the Cs, starting in 47 of his 48 games during the lockout-shortened ’98-99 season and averaging 16.5 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.7 steals per contest.
From there, he quickly became Boston’s top dog and one of the premier players in the Association, racking up All-Star nods and 25-plus points per game seasons. However, outside of an Eastern Conference Finals run in 2002, his Celtics largely failed to make a splash in the league’s upper echelon.
All of that changed in ’08 when the Celtics acquired Garnett, as well as sharpshooter and fellow multi-time All-Star Ray Allen. In short order, Pierce, KG, Allen and fledgling floor general Rajon Rondo finally took the Celtics to the promised land, capturing title No. 17 for the franchise.
It was Boston’s first championship since Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish captured the Larry O’Brien Trophy in 1986.
Although they failed to repeat as champions, losing to the Lakers in the 2010 NBA Finals and failing to get through their conference in other years, the Celtics were an annual contender during that era. And the Pierce-Garnett combination was what made it all possible.
In his 1,343 career NBA games, Pierce put up 19.7 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.3 steals per contest. His 2,143 three-point field goals rank as the ninth most in league history.
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Bill Russell Getting Another Induction As Well
Pierce won’t be the only Celtics legend to be recognized for his exploits during the next HOF enshrinement ceremony. Bill Russell is also set to be inducted as a coach (he was enshrined as a player in 1975).
Russell’s efforts during his playing career are unmatched, as the 6-foot-10 big man captured 11 championships over a 13-year career from 1956 to 1969. However, his final two NBA titles came while he was also serving in a dual role as the Celtics’ head coach.
He also coached the Seattle SuperSonics for four seasons during the 1970s before wrapping up his coaching career in 1988 with the Sacramento Kings. Over eight seasons as a head coach, he compiled a record of 341-290 and made five postseason appearances.
Russell will be reinducted by a cadre of hoops icons, including Charles Barkley, Julius Erving, Spencer Haywood, Alonzo Mourning, Bill Walton and Rick Welts.