No one will ever question's Paul Pierce's loyalty and dedication to the Boston Celtics. As he proved this week, it's going to take more than an infection in his knee to take the Truth off the Celtics' sidelines.
Paul spoke to the media on Saturday for the first time since he underwent multiple surgeries over the holidays to remove the infection and as WEEI's Jessica Camerato writes, No. 34 was still the captain even if he was sitting on the bench in a suit:
"It may not have been a green and white uniform like the ones hanging his teammates' lockers, but it represented his role on the Celtics just the same.
While he does not have a specific date in mind to return – the veteran is proceeding with caution – he plans to join the team for its upcoming road trip.
After talking to reporters, Pierce donned that suit, took a seat next to the coaches, and joined his teammates on the bench.
"Why not?" he said, even though many injured players choose to watch the games from the locker room.
This attitude could not have been more fitting for Pierce. Whether he was in a jersey and shorts or a shirt and tie, he was still the leader of the Celtics. As his teammates revealed to WEEI.com, his presence alone helped them in ways that only a captain can."
|Paul fires up his teammates prior to their January 2nd game against Toronto (Getty Images).|
Camerato spoke to Paul's teammates, who said the presence of the Truth alone helped them to a 103-96 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Saturday:
Ray Allen: "Just having that conversation with him on the bench, just shooting back and forth ideas about things that were going on in the game. He might say something that we need to do because it's a different vantage point from the sidelines. Sometimes they see everything and sometimes they see nothing. Because what I see, you see a little gap and you take it and then you make a pass and it closes up. The coaches don't see anything but a jumble of guys and hands and legs. So it does vary and it's good for him to give that perspective."
The Celtics' victory snapped a three-game losing streak and Boston is still 2-3 since No. 34 made his late-night emergency room trip just hours after a December 22 victory over the Indiana Pacers. But having Paul back on the sidelines against the Raptors calmed the Cs and propelled a dormant offense.
"Oh it was big. He's a motivator," said Tony Allen, who has been forced into the starting lineup in Paul's absence: "With a guy with that much success individually, you can't do anything but listen to a guy like that who's been in the league over 10 years. So I'm looking at it as like, if you can be on the road with us more, just being around being an extra coach, then it's all good. But we definitely need him back, definitely. … He was just telling me to just stay solid. He told me, get those guys open but stay aggressive. Take what the defense gave me, basic coach stuff. But he's got that offensive mentality, so he was saying take it to the hole when I can, too. … Six years with that guy, he's like a big brother to me. But I'm just waiting for him to come back. I want him to take his time but I'm definitely waiting for him to come back."
Despite their three game skid, a 24-8 record still has the Celtics with the best record in the Eastern Conference and Boston holds a comfortable 8.5 game lead over Toronto in the Atlantic Division.
To read more from the Truth's teammates on his role as team leader, read Camerato's article here.
The Truth will accompany the Cs on a three-game road trip, which begins Wednesday in Miami against the Heat. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 EST and all the action can be seen on CSN or heard on WEEI.
Despite injury, role of Captain still suits Pierce (WEEI.com, January 4, 2009)