The Los Angeles Clippers’ Game 7 loss to the Utah Jazz on Sunday didn’t just end their season. It marked the end of Paul Pierce’s career.
After 19 seasons, the surefire first-ballot Hall of Famer is calling it quits. He leaves behind a complicated legacy, one that includes a championship, unsuccessful ring-chasing thereafter and a tale of superstardom that, quite possibly, never included ranking as a top-10 or top-15 player in the NBA at any point in his career.
If you think Pierce is getting caught up in the nuance of his departure, though, you’re wrong. He’s at peace with his decisions, and how he went out, per ESPN’s Rachel Nichols:
Paul Pierce: "I gave every ounce I could, each and every day. And I have no regrets, even to the last day." pic.twitter.com/zKnmRaQKU3
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) April 30, 2017
There’s really no reason for Pierce to regret even the end of his career. He could have tried latching on to a more formidable contender for the tail part of his twilight, but the Clippers aren’t trash, and he ended up, out of necessity having to log substantial minutes in what turned out to be his swan song.
Pierce leaves a champion, a validated star, a crunch-time hero and a Boston Celtics icon. It doesn’t matter what could have been. All that matters is what was. And Pierce was an important part of the game.
He will be missed, even by his most devout detractors (so, New York Knicks fans).