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Allen can appreciate historic achievement

By Frank Dell’Apa
Globe Staff / February 8, 2012
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Paul Pierce has moved into second place on the Celtics’ all-time scoring list. But Pierce (21,797 points) is only third among his current teammates in career scoring, behind Kevin Garnett (23,659) and Ray Allen (22,583).

The difference in their careers, of course, is that Pierce has been with only one team since entering the NBA.

“It’s very tough,’’ Allen said of maintaining loyalty to a team. “Because you have to be committed, as well as the organization. If you look at a 10-year span, most organizations go in cycles of success. And, when you hit those tough times, that’s when organizations want to rebuild and bail out on the players they have.

“It’s not only a great testament to Paul being committed, but also the organization being committed and kind of following through on the plan and using him for what they were doing to help win the championship.’’

Midweek games in February are seldom memorable. But the Celtics’ 94-84 win over Charlotte at TD Garden will stand out because of Pierce’s accomplishment, surpassing Larry Bird in points scored. Or, it might be consigned to obscurity, as Bird’s 1987-88 supplanting of Bob Cousy (16,955) as the Celtics’ No. 2 scorer became.

For now, though, Pierce has made another contribution to Celtics history.

“Well, how we grew up, we looked at Larry Bird, he set the tone,’’ Allen said. “Magic [Johnson] set the tone, MJ [Michael Jordan], Doctor J [Julius Erving] set the tone. Those are the guys who were icons to us growing up, that generation. We know them, understand them, see them, and they changed the game.

“The kids growing up nowadays don’t have a huge connection to those players and they connect more to us, you know. So, now we’re taking over in the eyes of young kids growing up. You know, you ask a kid now, Bird is one of the greatest of all time, shooters, and most kids haven’t seen him play. You understand the awesomeness that people . . . you know how they look at him, but most kids haven’t seen him play.

“They’re looking at Paul like he’s the guy I want to be like. He’s one of the legends they want to grow up to be like and be part of the organization. With that comes great responsibility. We’re now in that generation - kids look up to us and that’s why when they grow up they’ll say they remember days like this when he passed Larry Bird.’’

Allen experienced a similar situation last season when he passed Reggie Miller as the league’s all-time leader in 3-pointers.

“I think it’s a tough situation,’’ Allen said, “because you’re going through something personally but you don’t want to take away from what’s going on.’’

The Celtics attempted to help Pierce get to the mark.

“I thought they tried so hard in the first half, I actually thought it was never going to happen,’’ coach Doc Rivers said. “I mean, it was unbelievable how our guys were passing up shots. They were doing everything to try and get him this thing. I think our guys were pressing more than Paul. I mean, Paul kept telling them, ‘Just play.’

And they were passing up shots.’’

Allen said, “Let’s hurry up and get 10 points out the way for him so he can not worry about the celebration. But you always look back on it and it’s something great that you want to be a part of.’’

Patience, persistence, resiliency, and sometimes plain stubbornness, count nearly as much as talent with some records.

“That’s why I say longevity,’’ Allen said. “You’ve got some old guys - there’s a lot of numbers, a lot of baskets out there.

“You just keep putting the shots up, keep knocking down ‘3s,’ keep scoring. You look up and you see yourself, your name always has to be mentioned in the same breath as everyone else.’’

Said Rivers, “I told the guys you’ve got to have several things: one is longevity, the second thing is health. And, then I said the third thing is you’ve got to be old as hell, because you’ve got to stick around a long time. And then the fourth thing: you’ve got to ball.

You’ve got to play some amazing basketball.’’

Frank Dell’Apa can be reached at f_dellapa@globe.com.

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