One day, the No. 34 likely will hang from the rafters at TD Garden. But on Sunday, Paul Pierce will wear that number at TD Garden for the last time ever in a regular-season game, although the No. 34 will be on the back of a Los Angeles Clippers jersey.
It’s sure to be an emotional day inside the arena Pierce called home for the first 15 seasons of his surefire Hall of Fame career.
“There’s no preparation for something like this,” Pierce told the media Saturday, via MassLive.com’s Jay King. “I know it’s going to be emotional. I don’t know what kind of emotion is going to come out, whether it’s a smile or a tear or what. It’s something that you just can’t prepare for. My whole career basically in one building, 15 years, then to be able to come back here for one more time — you know I always wished that I’d end my career playing as a Boston Celtics but things sometimes they don’t turn out how you want them.
“But I’m happy with what I’ve been able to leave behind as a Boston Celtic. I’m happy that I know I gave my all to this city, not only on the court but off the court. I embraced the city of Boston, I engulfed myself in the community, gave back through my foundation. A lot of people look at me as one of their own in the city of Boston. It’s almost like I grew up here. Being able to appreciate that time, I learned to appreciate my time when I was here.”
Pierce certainly made the most of his time in Boston, as he finished in the top 10 in multiple Celtics all-time categories, including the third-most games (1,102) and second-most points (24,021). He also helped raise another championship banner to the TD Garden rafters thanks to his MVP performance in the 2008 NBA Finals.
The same rafters his number likely soon will be raised to. But before that happens, he has one final regular-season goodbye to say to Boston as a player.
“I know when I step foot in that Garden that this is the last time I’ll play here,” he said. “It’s just going to remind me this is it. This is sort of like my goodbye. This stop right here in Boston. Kobe (Bryant) had like the whole all-year (goodbye) in every arena. But this is just mine right here, I feel like. This is like my goodbye when I come into the building, when I come into the TD Garden tomorrow. This is my one arena where it’s like really saying goodbye to the game.”
You can hear more from Pierce in the video below, via MassLive.com.
Thumbnail photo via Sergio Estrada/USA TODAY Sports Images