Paul Pierce said that when he entered TD Garden on Sunday morning preparing to play his final game here, he got chills.
About an hour before the game, after already signing plenty of autographs and posing for plenty of pictures, one of the most clutch NBA performers ever acknowledged that he had some jitters.
“You know, I’m still nervous right now,” Pierce said, “so who knows what’s going to happen when I get out there on the court and all the fans are out there?”
Well, when he got out there, he was showered with love, as the Celtics fans showed their appreciation for all Pierce gave this franchise and this city during his 15 seasons in Boston.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers, who understands the significance of this day as much as anyone, put Pierce in the starting lineup. The house lights went dark as Pierce was the final Los Angeles player to be introduced.
The crowd started roaring even before the public address announcer began his introduction, because everyone knew what was coming.
Pierce then received a long, loud ovation that morphed into calls of his nickname, “Truth.”
Before tipoff, Pierce walked to midcourt, leaned down and kissed the Celtics logo. He took a shot on the first possession of the game, and the crowd groaned as the 18-footer rattled in and out.
Watch: Pierce kisses Celtics logo
With 7 minutes, 3 seconds left, during the first timeout of the game, the Celtics played a video tribute to Pierce on the main scoreboard. The Celtics and Clippers joined the rest of the fans here in giving Pierce a standing ovation, and Pierce appeared overcome with emotion as the ovation poured down. When the tribute and cheers ended, fans began chanting, “Thank you, Paul Pierce.”