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June 29, 2013

Departing Pierce made a generation of Celtics fans believe

Departing Pierce made a generation of Celtics fans believe

First a confession: I don’t remember watching Larry Bird play basketball.

Sure, I remember the endless stories my father told me about the Celtics great. I do vaguely recall sitting on the couch with my dad, watching games played at the old Garden, and I have seen countless highlights of old No. 33.

But Larry Bird retired in 1992, when I was 8. So, in my mind, Boston basketball does not begin and end with Larry’s Legend.

When I see the Celtics’ logo, one name rises above all the rest in the history of the storied franchise.

Paul Pierce.

For a generation of bruised and battered Celtics fan, Pierce gave us hope.

He was our Bird.

He was more than just a tough-as-nails small forward, a 10-time All-Star and a career 21.4 points-per-game scorer. He gave us a long-awaited reason to cheer.

Watching No. 34 take the court and play his heart out every night made us believe, for the first time, that there actually was light at the end of the tunnel. That one day maybe — just maybe — the Celtics could be a contender again. That an NBA title wasn’t simply a story from the Bird/Kevin McHale/Robert Parish era.

So it has been an emotional 48 hours adjusting to the reality that Pierce is no longer a Celtic, traded by Boston to Brooklyn as part of a blockbuster deal to kick off the rebuilding process.

Is it sad to see Kevin Garnett leave? Sure.

But no exit of a Boston athlete has stirred up more emotions than the farewell to Pierce.

He is the Truth, and the Truth was supposed to be a Celtic forever.

Growing up a Celtics fan in the 1990s was not easy. We missed out on the greatness of Bird, McHale and Parish leading the C’s to the three NBA titles.

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