On eve of his jersey retirement, Paul Pierce named ‘greatest offensive Celtic ever’ by Robert Parish

The Boston Celtics will hoist Paul Pierce’s No. 34 into the rafters during Sunday afternoon’s primetime television matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers. For 15 seasons, Pierce was the consummate Celtic from the dawn of a new millennium onward. On Saturday, Celtics legends from generations past congregated to celebrate Pierce’s illustrious career at a ceremonial dinner and spoke glowingly about “The Truth.”

Of the legends who sprinkled superlatives on Pierce, Basketball Hall of Fame center Robert Parish went the furthest. When asked about Pierce, Parish raised a few eyebrows by calling him a superior offensive player to Larry Bird, John Havlicek or any Celtic who ever walked this parquet-floored planet, per USA Today’s Jared Weiss.

“I think [Pierce] was the greatest offensive Celtic ever, in my opinion,” Parish said. “I just think that Paul was more creative. He was a better scorer than Larry and John Havlicek. I think that Larry and John Havlicek and Paul were the best offensive players that the Celtics ever had. I think Paul tops that list in my opinion.”

Parish’s hot take will certainly draw scrutiny. Pierce’s scoring arsenal including a preternatural ability to get into prime scoring position utilizing screens, his deceptive pump fake and stepback jumper propelled him to second on the Celtics’ career scoring list behind John Havlicek.

Havlicek walks on hallowed ground in Celtics circles, but Parish may be overlooking a very obvious teammate of his. Meanwhile, Bird’s artistry and joint custody of the NBA in the ’80s with Magic Johnson is considered the Celtics gold standard.

The most poignant words spoken at Pierce’s ceremony were by “The Truth” himself, not about his own accomplishments, but about the honor of joining those names as Celtics immortals. An emotional Pierce reflected on fulfilling his dream of having his Celtics jerseys in the rafters alongside legends like Bill Russell, John Havlicek, Larry Bird and Kevin McHale.

He also threw in a playful dig at Cedric Maxwell, telling reporters, “How do you live up to McHale, Bird, Parish? Even Maxwell. Well, Maxwell was easy.”

Pierce also held back tears discussing the sacrifices he made on the road for 19 seasons as a pro and how winning his only championship with the Celtics in 2008 made it all worth it.

Per USA Today’s Jared Weiss, Pierce also went back to the roots to explain how his embrace of Boston was cemented in the aftermath of a stabbing incident before his third season. Despite being stabbed 11 times, Pierce would suit up for the season opener and average 25.3 points per game. The next year, he would lead the Celtics to the Eastern Conference Finals.

“Without a doubt this city raised me. I’ve been through a lot. I mean, I had almost a tragic incident where I was stabbed a number of times in this city and it could have went to the point where I wanted to leave.”

“I even thought about maybe, ‘I’m in danger here.’ But it was just like, you know what, I embraced it. I moved on from it. And they took me in as one of their own, man.”

“So I just feel like the things that I’ve been through in this city, on and off the court, from an immature kid to a grown adult, I’ve spent more years in the city here than I spent in any other city in my life.”

Growing up in Los Angeles, I was born in Oakland, raised in Inglewood, went to Kansas, so all those year all were broke up. Spent 15 years here, I can definitely say this city definitely raised me.”

Pierce was initially ticked off about having to share his jersey retirement ceremony with Isaiah Thomas’ return to Boston and you can see why. Pierce’s career played out over the course of an arduous two decades and his emotions were in overdrive all evening reviewing his journey to this moment.

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DJ Dunson is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at dunsnchecksin@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter or Facebook.