Tears rolled down Paul Pierce’s cheeks before the Celtics opened the 2008-09 season Tuesday night. The weepy captain didn’t exactly announce a new era of toughness for Boston as it prepared to defend its NBA title.
But it wasn’t long before the Emotional Truth turned into an Inconvenient Truth for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
On the night the Celtics' garish championship rings were handed out and the Celtics' 17th World Championship banner made its way to the rafters, Pierce took charge. Outdueling LeBron James and Cleveland — one of the Celtics' main challengers in the Eastern Conference — Pierce poured in 27 points in a 90-85 win.
There are miles to go and a few thousand ACLs, Achilles, bone spurs, flagrant fouls and snits over playing time to go before someone puts themselves in position to do what Boston got to do last night.
But there is absolutely no logical reason not to assume that with Pierce and Kevin Garnett intact, Boston plays into the month of May and, if LeBron makes it through relatively unscathed, so do the Cavs.
Tuesday night, though, belonged to Pierce. There’s little doubt he loves a spotlight. And when the Larry O’Brien Trophy was hauled onto the parquet floor by Celtics legend John Havlicek, Pierce turned into a blubbering mess.
“It brought back so many memories from when I was a kid," Pierce said. "Being able to have my family and closest friends (here) it was a great night to share that with them. It’s moments like these that you always cherish whenever you can raise that banner and grab that ring to be there in front of the closest people to you. It was very emotional.”