Paul Pierce won it all with the Celtics in 2008. Over 15 years later, he’s been active in the offseason and in-season, supporting the current Boston team’s efforts to hang banner 18 at the TD Garden.
He isn’t alone, either.
Throughout the season multiple former Celtics have paid visits to Boston to offer advice and encouragement to Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and the new crop of stars. Rajon Rondo appeared at a morning practice in October, while Pierce and Antoine Walker have been around multiple times.
Appearing on the “View From the Rafters” podcast, both Pierce and Walker talked about what makes them comfortable coming back and offering help to the 2023-24 Celtics team.
“I told Jaylen I want them to win more than anything in the world because I feel like I’m a part of this,” Pierce said. “And I am a part of this … we bleed green, we’re a family, we’re a culture, and that’s why you see guys like me and Antoine always around. We family, that’s what this organization is, and they always invite us back with open arms.”
Pierce and Walker both know what it takes to win, even though they didn’t win as teammates in Boston. Walker earned his ring in the 2005-06 season while playing for the Miami Heat. And of course, Pierce earned his a couple of years later.
Still, the pair have felt winning locker rooms, and after spending time in Boston with this group, they believe that feeling exists within the Celtics’ locker room.
“You can feel it in the air here when you’re in the practice facility. I think they feel it,” Pierce said. “I think guys feel like this is their time … usually the process, you go through your ups and downs, you go through the process of tough losses, tough playoff battles, and you figure it out and get over the hump. That’s where this team is at now.”
Pierce and Walker see a lot of themselves in Tatum and Brown. Both came to the Celtics in the late ’90s and started building toward greatness as key players. Unfortunately, they were split up before they could get over the hump as a duo. It worked out for all parties in the end, but Walker appreciates the Celtics keeping Tatum and Brown together.
“The commitment that they believe in those two guys I think shows a lot,” Walker said. “And they’ve had early success, I mean me and Paul had some early success, but these guys come in their second, third year in the league and they’re making deep playoff runs. This ownership group believes in them and this organization, and that’s the great thing I love.”
The Celtics hold the NBA’s best record through 45 games (35-10). Their starting five is one of the best and most well-rounded in the league. And with a support system of former players on their side, the pieces are in place for this year’s team to hang another banner in Boston.
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