Charles Barkley, the great pundit that he is, came to the defense of Celtics greatness by leaving Paul Pierce off of his list of top ten Celtics. Which begs the question: where does Pierce fit in among the pantheon of hall of famers that is the Celtics legacy and mystique?
Mattrob23 posed this question on the CelticsBlog recently.
Barkley's list is as follows:
6. Bill Russel
33. Larry Bird (they call him the Legend)
00. Robert Parish (the Chief)
17. John Havlicek ("he stole the ball!")
32. Kevin McHale
3. DJ Johnson (not in the Hall. But has 3 titles, Finals MVP, and 5x All Star)
24. Sam Jones (Good choice. My favorite C.)
31. Cedric Maxwell (Cornbread? Really?)
18. Dave Cowens (the taxi driver. What a weirdo)
10. Jo Jo White (I watched Glory Road the other day)
Sir Charles also mentions Walter Brown and Red Auerbach, which I dont understand. Because, while both Brown and Auerbach did much for the Celtics and the game of basketball, they are not players, and therefore, arent really part of the discussion.
He also brings up Reggie Lewis, and Len Bias, and states that they could have been better than Pierce also, if they had lived. First of all, that same argument could be said of anything. Tim Duncan could have been a Celtic Great too, but he was drafted by San Antonio because they got the first pick that year. Second, Len Bias should never be mentioned in the same sentence as the phrase "Celtics Legends" due to the fact that A: he never played a game in a Celtics jersey, and B: the asshole didnt know how to party properly and ended up dead the day after he was drafted, which completely screwed over the entire franchise for a solid decade and a half. "Could have beens", and "ifs" dont count in this discussion.
Also out of contention for this list are: Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Chauncy Billups, Gary Payton, Bill Walton, Ed McAuley, and Nate Archibald. Although these players are all great, and all played for the Cs, and some of them helped win titles, they did the majority of their great works in other cities. Everyone on Barkley's list (with the exception of Parish, Johnson, and Cowens) were Celtics lifers. True, Johnson won a title with Seattle, and Parish won one in Chicago, but they were in their prime when they played for the Cs, and they also played in Boston for a majority of their careers. When you say Robert Parish and Dennis Johnson, everyone thinks Celtics Legend. When someone says Kevin Garnet or Ray Allen, sure the Celtics are mentioned, but the Timberwolves, Sonics, and Bucks will be also.
Kevin Garnett won a title in Boston, and a Defensive Player of the Year award, and is a 3x All Star. However, with Minnesota, he was a season MVP, and a 10x All Star, and holds their records for points, assists, steals, blocked shots, and rebounds, and as a Timberwolf, holds the NBA record for averaging 20 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists 6 consecutive times, and is only one of 4 NBA players EVER to lead their team in all 5 statistical categories, but that team isnt the Celtics (Dave Cowens is one of the other 3, and his team was the Celtics).
Another thing that gets me is the fact that Cousy isnt on the list at all, one of the best point guards of all time. And what about Tommy Heinsohn? Rookie of the Year, 8 NBA titles, 6 All Star appearances, Coach of the Year, and he won 2 titles as a coach.
Paul Pierce, in comparison to the members on the list, plus Cousy and Heinsohn, stacks up numbers wise:
Pierce is the third all Celtic leading scorer behind Larry Bird and John Havlicek.
He has 1 NBA title, 8 All Star Appearances, NBA Finals MVP, a scoring title (only Celtic to ever do that), and he won the 3 point contest recently, the first Celtic to do that since Larry Bird won it 3 times.
In addition to the numbers... he has a pretty kick-ass nickname which also stacks up with other Celtics Greats. The Chief, the Houdini of the Hardwood, Cornbread, Tommy Guns, The Hick from French Lick, Satch, Loscy, the Cooz, The Black Hole, Hondo, The Jones Boys, and Big Red are all nicknames used for the Celtics Greats. The Truth is definitely just as good, if not better.
I think Paul Pierce has cemented his legacy in Boston. He is poised to finish his career with the team that drafted him. This is a pretty huge deal. There are not too many veteran players in the NBA still on the team that drafted them. I can think of two off the top of my head: Tim Duncan, and Dirk Nowitski (Kobe has played for the Lakers his entire career, but was drafted by the Hornets). Pierce has a resume of awards that matches many other Celtics Greats, and has done much to overcome character flaws, injuries, and personal issues in order to continue to be good at what he does. When Pierce retires, I would be shocked to not see number 34 raised to the rafters in the Boston TD Garden. I mean... if they retired Cedric Maxwell, Ed McAuley, Jim Loscutoff, Satch Sanders, KC Jones and Don Nelson, they'd be nuts not to retire Pierce, right?
in conclusion: my list
6. Bill Russel
33. Larry Bird
17. John Havlicek
18. Dave Cowens
32. Kevin McHale
34. Paul Pierce
24. Sam Jones
24. Sam Jones
15. Tommy Hiensohn
00. Robert Parish