BOSTON – It was a sight Boston Celtics fans thought they might never see again: Paul Pierce with Ray Allen, side by side, seemingly happy.
“I just saw he left for Miami, our rival, and got mad at that,” Pierce said during an exclusive interview with CSN.
Allen’s departure to the Heat in 2012 would bother Pierce for years, leading to what became an icy relationship that’s finally showing signs of thawing out.
The two were part of a celebrity basketball game in China, a chance encounter that seems to have provided a second chance of sorts to rekindle a friendship that has been anything but that for years.
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And the timing could not be any better with this being the 10-year anniversary of their 2008 title run, an occasion that will be recognized at some point this season by the Celtics.
Pierce said he knew at some point, whatever issues he and his teammates had with Allen would have to be buried.
“I said, even months ago, ‘we gotta come together at some point,’” Pierce said. “We gotta let it go at some point. I figure if it’s gonna happen, maybe I’ll be the one, the mediator.
Pierce added, “It left a bad taste in everybody’s mouth, no doubt. But at some point, you have to grow out of it. We’re out of the game now as far as me and Kevin [Garnett] and Ray. I’m over it. It happened then. It was a long time ago. But at the end of the day you have to realize, Ray helped this become what it was when we were here.”
The trio led one of the greatest turnarounds in NBA history, leading Boston to its 17th NBA title and a 66-16 regular season record after the Celtics won just 24 games the season prior.
Pierce hasn’t had a chance to talk with Garnett and Rajon Rondo yet about burying the hatchet with Allen, but he’s confident they’ll warm up to the idea.
“Eventually we get over things and move on, just like in relationships, good and bad relationships do,” Pierce said. “We hugged, talked about it and it’s over with.”
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But those memories will come to life this season as fans, the franchise and the media reminisce over that magical season that helped catapult Pierce from one of the better Celtics players into a franchise legend.
Because as Pierce found out during his 15 seasons in Boston, good players come and go but those who win championships become immortals in the eyes of Celtics Nation.
“I’m just happy I could leave a legacy behind,” said Pierce who ranks among the franchise’s top-5 leaders in several categories. “I had spent 15 years here and to put a championship (banner up) with a team that drafted you, that doesn’t happen very often. So, it means a lot to me. I was able to be part of something for this generation to talk about. The kids today, hear the stories from their parents about Larry Bird and Kevin McHale and how with us winning a championship, a newer generation will have something to hang their hat on too. If we didn’t win a championship, there wouldn’t be nothing to talk about. I’m happy to give this generation something to hang their hat on.”
And that title run, regardless of how the players involved feel about one another, will always be remembered as the Big Three of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen restoring the luster and shine of the most storied franchise in NBA history.
“We’re going to be linked together for life, whether we like it or not,” Pierce said. “Eventually we have to let go.”