Breaking Down the Isaiah Thomas/Paul Pierce Dilemma

First off, I want to make it clear that I adore both of these players. Growing up, Paul Pierce was the man. He was the man when I started watching basketball and became my idol when Boston won the NBA championship in ’08. Isaiah Thomas was the man in  Boston for the little over two years he was in Boston. I loved Isaiah before he came to Boston. I loved Isaiah when he first got traded to Boston. And I still love Isaiah to this day, even though he’s on a rival team. There is a special place in my heart for both of these players, but something’s got to give.

Isaiah requested that the Celtics didn’t play his tribute video on January 3rd. I was more than confused why he wouldn’t want it to be played during his first trip back to Boston, but we learned to understand why. Isaiah wasn’t playing, so he didn’t want the video to be shown. Although people came at him for making that move, he explained his reason the best way Isaiah Thomas possibly could.

Per Isaiah’s request, the Celtics decided to move the video to a later date. The issue is that the next and last time the Cavaliers come back to Boston during the regular season is February 11, which is the date of Paul Pierce’s jersey retirement ceremony in Boston. Tribute videos aren’t meant to last long, maybe around two minutes or so, but the issue is that this isn’t meant to be Isaiah Thomas’ day. It’s Paul Pierce’s day.

Paul Pierce is one of the most decorated and beloved members of the Boston Celtics in history. Every Celtics’ fan loves Paul. What he did for the team, whether he was in green or not, surpasses all that Isaiah Thomas has done for the team times a million. Paul Pierce was loyal through the darkest years in Celtics’ history. He waited it out and trusted the organization to bring him help to win a title. His loyalty paid off when he was rewarded with a championship and Finals MVP in 2008. Paul is third on the all-time list for most games played by a Celtic. He’s the second highest scorer in Celtics’ history, is number one on all-time three-pointers made, and ranks top-5 in field goals made, steals, blocks, and assists. What he did while in a Boston uniform is unmatched.

But it’s not just what he did while in Boston. If it weren’t for Paul, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Kyrie Irving, and even Gordon Hayward or Al Horford would’ve never become members of the Boston Celtics. It was Paul Pierce’s sacrifice to be traded to the Nets that allowed the team to rebuild so quickly and become the powerhouse they are now. Even when he wasn’t on the team, he was helping them out in the most prominent way possible.

When Isaiah Thomas was in Boston, it was nothing short of memorable. From his half-season of coming off the bench, to helping the team recruit Al Horford and Gordon Hayward, to his scoring outbursts in the playoffs, he was Boston’s hero. He was an MVP candidate and made the All-NBA 2nd Team his last year in Boston. Isaiah Thomas also made sacrifices of his own to help the team succeed. Although I hate to compare how much each player has done for the Celtics, the truth is simple. Paul Pierce leaves behind the greater legacy. He’s the one that’s getting his jersey retired. February 11th is the day that’ll be remembered as the day Paul Pierce’s jersey went up in the rafters at TD Garden, not the day Isaiah Thomas got his tribute video.

As a fan of basketball, Isaiah Thomas has to understand where Paul is coming from when he said he’d prefer not to see Isaiah Thomas highlights the day of his jersey retirement. This day was purposely set aside to celebrate Paul Pierce. If Paul doesn’t want Isaiah’s tribute video to be played that day, the least the organization can do is respect his request. Isaiah should do the same thing. Isaiah knows first hand how much you are resected by the fans of Boston. He knows how much love the fans give back to the players who have done so much for the team. Isaiah knows February 11th is Paul’s day. He should understand why Paul doesn’t want his tribute video being played that day. It’s just unfortunate timing. This means that the tribute video will have to be held off for a future date. There’s always the chance that Boston and Cleveland face off in the playoffs, so it can be played then. But if that doesn’t happen, then the video will have to wait until next year.

This whole situation isn’t about Boston respecting or appreciating Paul Pierce more, it’s just bad timing. We aren’t picking one or the other here. This date was set aside for Paul Pierce and Paul Pierce only. Isaiah will have to live with not having a tribute video for the time being. Honestly, he should’ve just had it been played the other night. I know he wasn’t playing, but he had to know this was going to happen.

I love Isaiah Thomas and Paul Pierce. I could never pick one over the other. The situation is entirely unfair for Paul. He deserves to have his own day and not have to share the spotlight with anyone else. He deserves that at the very least. I hope this doesn’t spill bad blood between Isaiah and the Celtics’ organization. We’ve already been through that, and I don’t want to hear any more of it. Hopefully, the Celtics and Cavaliers meet up in the playoffs, where Isaiah’s tribute video can be played, and his team will be eliminated by the Celtics.


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