Celtics to retire Pierce's No. 34
(TSX / STATS) -- The Boston Celtics plan to retire Paul Pierce's No. 34 during the season next year, cementing his 15-year legacy with the franchise.
The Celtics announced Friday they will honor Pierce after a midseason game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, Feb. 11.
A 10-time All-Star, Pierce spent the first 15 years of his career with the Celtics, helping the club to the NBA title in 2008.
"We teamed up with Paul from the beginning of our ownership and grew to be champions together," Celtics co-owner and governing partner Wyc Grousbeck said in a statement. "He's a great person and a great Celtic."
Ten other Celtics players donned the No. 34 prior to Pierce getting drafted by the team with the 10th overall pick in 1998. The Celtics now will raise his number among the other legends and champions.
"I will always be grateful for the sacrifices Paul made to help the Celtics be great," said Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge. "His love for the game was contagious and his talents and hard work were legendary. He was one of the greatest players of his era."
Pierce's No. 34 will be ceremoniously lifted to the rafters of TD Garden less than 10 years after he helped raise the Celtics' 17th championship banner to the very same ceiling in 2008.
"The moment I was drafted by the Celtics, I knew I was joining one of the most historic organizations in the NBA," Pierce said. "For 15 years, I played at the Garden, looking up at the jerseys of some of the most iconic players in the game -- Russell, Bird and Cousy. To now be recognized alongside those names is such an honor. I have always said I would be a Celtic for life, and now it is really coming true."
Pierce was named the NBA Finals MVP in 2008. He averaged 21.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 1.08 steals and 38.8 minutes in that six-game series en route to the Celtics' first championship banner since 1986 as they defeated the Los Angeles Lakers.
"Paul was a transcendent player, a great leader, and wonderful teammate; simply one of the great Celtics in every way," said Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca. "His number in the rafters will forever remind us of the joy he brought to the game of basketball and his love for the fans and the city of Boston."
While his role in the 2008 NBA Finals will be forever remembered as a key part of his Celtics legacy, it was a performance earlier that postseason that is widely remembered as one of his more iconic moments in Boston. Battling the Cleveland Cavaliers in a decisive Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, Pierce and LeBron James battled head-to-head in a back-and-forth scoring affair that saw both stars score over 40 points. The Celtics captain scored 41 points to upend Cleveland 97-92 and advance to the Eastern Conference finals.
Pierce's 15 seasons in Boston from 1998-99 to 2012-13 trails only John Havlicek (16) for the most seasons spent in a Celtics uniform. Pierce averaged 21.8 points, 6.0 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.44 steals and 36.6 minutes in his 1,102 career games with the Celtics.
Pierce, a 6-foot-7 forward, tops the franchise lists in 3-point field goals (1,823), free throws (6,434) and steals (1,583), while also placing as the Celtics' second all-time leading scorer with 24,021 career points.
Pierce's No. 34, which was also retired at the University of Kansas on Jan. 25, 2003, will represent the 22nd retired number in Celtics franchise history. He becomes the first Celtic to have his number retired since Cedric Maxwell's No. 31 was retired on Dec. 15, 2003.
Pierce signed a one-day contract with the Celtics on July 17 in a move that allowed him to retire as a member of the franchise.
Pierce averaged 19.7 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.5 assists while playing in 1,343 career games with the Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Washington Wizards and Los Angeles Clippers.
Updated August 18, 2017