Originally posted on Celtics Town  |  Last updated 6/28/13
Paul Pierce and Celtics fans became family during his time in Boston.Last night as rumors of the trade that sent Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to Brooklyn broke, I had kind of a selfish thought: “What am I going to do about my wedding cake topper?”I’m getting married in about four weeks, and my fiancee — a very understanding person — ordered me a Paul Pierce cake topper, knowing that to keep me interested in the wedding proceedings, she needed to cater to my basketball needs. Now I’m debating whether or not I should keep the topper and risk the pangs at my reception, especially if someone who doesn’t watch sports as much comes up to me and asks “Hey, didn’t he get traded?” Violence might ensue.Sports get tied up in our lives in weird ways. If it wasn’t for basketball, I probably wouldn’t have a Twitter account. If I didn’t have a Twitter, there would be at least 20 people who I interact with on a regular basis (and many, many more who I interact with less frequently) who I never would have met. Sports brought us together. It creates families.But it’s not just fellow sports fans. We end up adopting the players into our families as well, even if sometimes that relationship is a little bit one-sided. You want to know why it hurt Cleveland so badly when LeBron James left? It was because he was rejecting their family. He told them, in essence, their family wasn’t good enough.But sometimes, the relationship isn’t one-sided. Sometimes, the player adopts the fans into his family as well, if not individually, then as a collective. The fans support and uplift a player like a family would, supporting and cheering for him unconditionally while chiding his mistakes. In return, the player loves a city. It becomes symbiotic, and at its best (Duncan in San Antonio, Dirk in Dallas, and — of course — Pierce in Boston), it becomes the kind of relationship where a fan base actually appreciates the player’s importance to the city more than anything. More than wins, more than losses, more than future assets.Paul Pierce was that kind of player. There’s a reason no one can quite process the prospect of seeing him in another uniform — he started here, and it was pretty widely assumed that he would finish here after he inked his last deal. Many fans (and “fans” is the important distinction, since it’s GM Danny Ainge’s job to make the franchise better emotionlessly) cared more about Pierce than the Celtics in a lot of ways, wanting him to retire with the team because…well…he’s family.So really, no one is wrong here. The fans should be engaged with and supportive of their superstars. The franchise should be looking to improve whenever possible. But sometimes, those visions clash, and when they do, it can make for an extremely bittersweet goodbye.Boston fans have a tendency to romanticize players’ connections to the city, in part because of the long history of excellence within the franchise. But it’s not exaggerating to say Paul Pierce is one of the greatest Celtics in the team’s history. Since the postseason, my dad has been saying that he wanted the Celtics to run it back again. I’ll admit: I disagreed with him, because I want the team to be in a good place for the future, and I know that the quickest way to do that is to gather trade assets and get bad for the 2014 draft. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that blowing things up meant saying goodbye to family — family, what’s more, with whom we have had an unbelievable stretch of years. My dad was right. How do you say goodbye to that?I know, intellectually, that the Celtics did extremely will in this trade. But family isn’t about being intellectual, and this trade is about family. How are we supposed to support a draft pick, at least right now? A draft pick is an asset, not a player. Hopefully, someday, that pick will become a player, and if that player becomes a Celtic (not a “Celtics player,” mind you, but a “Celtic” like Pierce), then he will join the family as well. It’s happened before. But that doesn’t make it any easier right now.Fifteen years ago on draft night, my dad and I watched disbelieving as Pierce’s name slipped further and further down the draft chart, and we yelled, high-fived and celebrated when the Mavericks took Dirk Nowitzki, acting like we had just won a championship.And, as it turned out, we had.Thanks for everything, Paul. You will be sorely missed.Follow Tom on Twitter: @Tom_NBA, where he will be sad for days.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Khloe Kardashian called out Cavs fan who mentioned ‘curse’

Warriors’ Mike Brown: Steve Kerr may be back for the Finals

Dodgers transfer Andrew Toles and Scott Kazmir to the 60-day disabled list

Looking back at 40 years of women racing in the Indianapolis 500

U.S. national soccer teams to wear LGBT-themed jerseys to celebrate pride month

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Mike Zimmer: Teddy Bridgewater still has ‘long ways to go’

Turkey: Kanter a member of terrorist group, issues warrant

Report: Seahawks players feel Sherman bombshell story ‘nailed it’

Report: Clippers concerned about Chris Paul leaving to sign with Spurs

Patriots to sponsor Gay Bowl in Boston this fall

Michael Irvin offers advice for Odell Beckham

Best of Yardbarker: Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines

The 'More like Whiffer, Texas Ranger...amirite?' quiz

The Rewind: Vince Carter's graduation day celebration that wasn't

Manu Ginobili gave life to the San Antonio Spurs

Stanley Cup Final: A David vs. Goliath matchup that's not as lopsided as it may appear

Why the Indianapolis 500 is called 'the greatest spectacle in racing'

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Box Score 5/26: Bring on the Finals

Why wait? Our too soon Cavaliers-Warriors NBA Finals preview

Kicking It: East is East, and West is West

Three Up, Three Down: Some surprises way out (NL) West

The 'Let's go to the videotape!' quiz

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Best of Yardbarker: Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines

The 'More like Whiffer, Texas Ranger...amirite?' quiz

Stanley Cup Final: A David vs. Goliath matchup that's not as lopsided as it may appear

Manu Ginobili gave life to the San Antonio Spurs

The Rewind: Vince Carter's graduation day celebration that wasn't

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Kicking It: East is East, and West is West

Three Up, Three Down: Some surprises way out (NL) West

The 'Let's go to the videotape!' quiz

Why the Indianapolis 500 is called 'the greatest spectacle in racing'

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker