The Celtics Won 33 Games in ’06, but Paul Pierce Admits He Celebrated a Title That Year

It took Paul Pierce 10 years in the NBA to earn his first and only championship. It also took a pair of offseason trades to make that happen.

Before the Boston Celtics acquired Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen prior to the 2007-08 season, they suffered through one of their worst years in franchise history, finishing with a 24-58 record. Pierce, Garnett, and Allen became instant favorites and lived up to the billing, posting a 66-16 record and securing Boston’s first championship since 1986. Pierce recently admitted that he felt like he had won an NBA title two seasons earlier, despite the Celtics finishing with a 33-49 mark.

Pierce and Antoine Walker were supposed to lead the Celtics to a championship in their days together in Boston. The Celtics selected Walker with the sixth overall pick in the 1996 NBA Draft, and then took Pierce with the 10th overall pick in the 1998 NBA Draft.

Although they finished in last place in the division in their first three seasons together, Pierce and Walker helped guide the Celtics to the conference finals in 2002 and the conference semis in 2003.

After the 2002-03 season, the Celtics traded Walker to the Dallas Mavericks. After a short stint with the Mavs and the Atlanta Hawks, the Celtics brought back Walker for a short second stint in Boston.

Walker then became a part of the Miami Heat’s 2006 championship team when Boston traded him again. Walker joined a loaded Heat team led by a young Dwyane Wade and veterans Gary Payton, Shaquille O’Neal, and Alonzo Mourning. Pierce recalled celebrating after Walker finally got his championship.

“I was so happy for ‘Toine to have that opportunity,” Pierce said on the “View From the Rafters” podcast. “I was going to some games during that run. I was flying to Miami, going to some games. When they won it, I flew to Chicago. I didn’t even go to my hotel. I met him at the restaurant, congratulated him, and we had dinner. I was so happy because I felt like I won, too.

“I was so happy for him, and I flew to Chicago and we partied that whole weekend. It was amazing because I felt like I was a part of that for some reason. That’s how our relationship was.

Two years after celebrating Walker’s championship, Pierce was able to finally win one with the Celtics. Boston knocked off the rival Los Angeles Lakers in six games. He admitted the atmosphere surrounding the team was different after acquiring Garnett and Allen.

“In my career, even though we made some good playoff runs, we was never considered a contender,” Pierce said. “Nine years I was in the league, and I finally get a team where they could say we have an opportunity to win a championship. That’s a whole other feeling.

“Before the season starts, they say these are the contenders, these five or six teams. I’d never been in that conversation. To go from nothing to the favorite was a whole other feeling in the locker room.”



Gideon Canice

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