Former Celtics Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett were honored with JumboTron video tributes in their first return to Boston since an offseason trade, when the Nets visited TD Garden on Sunday.
Pierce, 36, was a 1998 lottery pick who spent the first 15 seasons of his career with the Celtics, making 10 All-Star Game appearances and earning four All-NBA selections. The small forward and longtime Celtics captain -- nicknamed "The Truth" -- ranks No. 3 in Celtics franchise history in games played, No. 2 in points, No. 7 in rebounds, No. 1 in steals and No. 4 in blocks.
Pierce's tribute video, which can be seen above, was shown between the first and second quarters.
Garnett, 37, was traded by Minnesota to Boston in 2007, and he spent the next six seasons with the Celtics, earning the 2008 Defensive Player of the Year award, making five All-Star appearances and earning four All-Defensive nods. "KG" ranks in the Celtics' top-10 in franchise history for blocks, defensive rebounds and field goal percentage.
Garnett's tribute video, which can be viewed below, was shown late during the first quarter.
Together, Pierce and Garnett joined with Ray Allen, Kendrick Perkins and Rajon Rondo to win the 2008 championship, Boston's 17th title and first since 1986. Pierce and Garnett also led the Celtics to the 2010 Finals.
Paul Pierce (left), coach Doc Rivers (center), and Kevin Garnett (right) celebrate the 2008 NBA championship. (Elsa/Getty Images)
Both players, who stand among the most popular in franchise history, were traded to the Nets in a blockbuster deal last July as Boston undertook a rebuilding effort. Sunday marked the first regular season match-up in Boston between the two Atlantic Division rivals, and Pierce and Garnett did not play when the Celtics hosted the Nets during the preseason.
The TD Garden crowd greeted Pierce and Garnett with standing ovations during the player introductions.
Shortly after the trade, Pierce was already thinking about his first return to Boston.
“I know it’s going to be really emotional," Pierce said in July, according to the Boston Herald. "I’ve already pictured it in my head a hundred times, and every time I’ve pictured it I’ve shed tears. That’s going to be difficult, man. It’s going to be difficult. It’s like the first girl you were in love with. You cried and thought about her, probably sent her letters. She rejected them and you cried some more. Then you moved on."
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Garnett was also looking forward to the moment this week.
"Some things are forever, man," he said Friday, according to ESPNNewYork.com. "And I'm happy to say that I'm part of that era. ... We're going there with good thoughts and open arms. Boston was good to me."
The Boston Globe offered a look behind the video tributes this week.
“We sort of say, if we have one goal, it’s to say thank you to that player,” says team president Rich Gotham. “When these guys leave, you don’t always have time to do that. And if someone gets traded, you don’t get to say goodbye.”
The Celtics previously honored former coach Doc Rivers with a video tribute in December. Rivers coached Boston from 2004 until he left the organization last summer to join the Clippers.
Top two videos via YouTube user TheBrooklynGame | Bottom video via beyondthebuzzercom