KG, Pierce showered with praise in Boston

January, 26, 2014
Jan 26
7:49
PM ET


BOSTON -- They were introduced one after another, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, the two former Boston Celtics forever bonded by the championship they delivered the city in 2008.

The sellout crowd showered them with applause; Garnett’s applause loud, Pierce’s applause even louder.

KG acknowledged them. Pierce did not. The franchise’s second all-time leading scorer, who played the first 15 years of his career in Boston, tried to gather his teammates to begin their pregame dancing ritual.

[+] EnlargeKevin Garnett and Paul Pierce
Steve Babineau/NBAE/Getty ImagesKevin Garnett and Paul Pierce returned to Boston for the first time since last year's blockbuster trade.
Pierce didn’t want to get emotional -- even though, on a night like this one, it was pretty much inevitable.

Pierce and Garnett returned Sunday to Boston for the first time since being traded to the Nets.

Both received wonderful video tributes on the jumbotron from the Celtics -- Garnett's with 2:25 left in the first quarter, Pierce’s after the final stanza ended. Each one, which ran about a minute long, ended with a picture of the empty retired number spaces hanging in the rafters.

Not for long.

Garnett and Pierce were both touched as the diehards chanted their names. The fans wouldn’t stop applauding, and Garnett and Pierce couldn’t help reciprocate.

If tears weren’t shed, well, both future Hall of Famers were well within their rights to let them flow.

Long before tipoff, Pierce took a left instead of a right. He wore black instead of green. Instead of going to the home locker room, Pierce went to the visitors' locker room.

Not for long.

Pierce ended up spending a lot of time in the Celtics’ room with many of his former teammates.

Garnett didn’t arrive until later.

There was a playoff vibe -- even in pregame warmups.

Pierce and Garnett were the last ones to come out of the tunnel 15 minutes before tip.

A minute standing ovation ensued. Pierce wound up hitting a pair of half-court shots. The fans loved that, too.

A group of supporters sitting behind Brooklyn’s bench held letters that spelled out “T-R-U-T-H.”

It was all well-deserved. Fitting, for sure.

Mike Mazzeo

ESPN New York Writer

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Joe Johnson
PTS AST STL MIN
16.7 3.8 1.0 34.9
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsK. Garnett 8.0
AssistsD. Williams 6.8
StealsD. Williams 1.1
BlocksB. Lopez 1.6