Paul Pierce appeared to be well on his way to breaking the Celtics' franchise record for most seasons averaging at least 20 points per game. But after his ninth NBA season, Pierce's scoring abruptly fell by 5.4 points per game, and he has only averaged more than 20 points per game once in the past five years.
What happened? The arrival of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen changed everything for Pierce. No longer did he have to dominate the basketball for the Celtics to have a prayer of winning. Just like that, he could be a facilitator of other players' offense while taking up the scoring load when need be.
Pierce may have lost his chance to become the franchise's all-time leading scorer, but he accepted the trade-off — an NBA championship — without hestitation. If not for the franchise-altering events of 2007, Pierce could be closing in on John Havlicek's record of 26,395 points.
Even diehard Celtics fans are often surprised that Havlicek, not Larry Bird, is their team's career scoring leader. "Hondo" posted eight 20-points-per-game seasons, equal to Pierce, with one of the most relentless motors in NBA history. Bird trails by more than 4,600 points.
Not that Bird was a slouch. Larry Legend holds the Celtics' high mark with 11 seasons averaging more than 20 points, not to mention that fact that he owns the hearts and minds of any Boston fan born after 1980.