The Boston Celtics announced Friday that they will retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34 after a mid-season game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, Feb. 11, cementing his 15-year Celtics legacy which includes countless accolades, significant milestones, and the 2008 NBA Championship.
Ten other Celtics players donned the number 34 prior to Pierce getting drafted by the team with the 10th overall pick in the 1998 draft. Now, the 17-time NBA champions are raising his number among the other Celtics legends and champions.
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 up to the very same ceiling in 2008. Going head-to-head with the rival Los Angeles Lakers in his first career NBA Finals appearance, Pierce followed up a 22-point performance in a Game 1 victory with 28 more points on 9-of-16 shooting (4-4 3-PT) and eight assists in Boston’s Game 2 triumph. His 38 points in Game 5 of those Finals represented his second-highest scoring total in 26 postseason games that year.
Pierce was named the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player that year, making him the third Celtic to collect MVP honors in his first NBA Finals appearance (JoJo White – 1974, Cedric Maxwell – 1981). He averaged 21.8 points (43.2% FG, 39.3% 3-PT, 83.0% FT), 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.
Pierce’s 15 seasons in Boston from 1998-99 to 2012-13 trails only John Havlicek (16) for the most ever spent in a Celtics uniform. He produced 21.8 points (44.7% FG, 37.0% 3-PT, 80.6% FT), 6.0 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.44 steals and 36.6 minutes in his achievement-filled 1,102 career games with the franchise.
Earning his iconic nickname “The Truth” during his third NBA season in 2000-01, Pierce tops the franchise lists in three-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.