Pierce honored at Tip-Off Gala

BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics raised more than $1 million for the Shamrock Foundation through their annual Tip-Off Gala, held Friday night at TD Garden.

The team's entire roster and coaching staff were present for Friday's event, which included a reception for guests to interact with the players and coaches, followed by a dinner and a formal introduction of this season's team. It was just the latest of the team's many efforts to give back to the community.

"Well, I've been involved since being here, and it's terrific," coach Doc Rivers said of the team's community involvement "I know other teams do things like this, and I just don't know if anybody's done it as well as we do it. I'm obviously biased. But I think our ownership is the reason. I think they really get behind this and they do a great job of raising money for charities in the community."

Said Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca: "It's been great for the kids, it's been great for Boston, and this team has probably been the most community-oriented team I've seen since I've been here, so we're really excited about that. It's incredible, and it's a testament to the players, our franchise, and the whole strategy of the ownership group to kind of give back to the community, so it's a great culmination and hopefully we'll keep it going."

The event also saw Paul Pierce honored with the New England Baptist Hospital Community Champion Award, for his 15 years of community involvement and service.

"Well I think it says a lot, due to my dedication, my hard work, my consistency for being here for so long and being dedicated to the Celtics, on the court and off the court," Pierce said. "So, it's exciting to be honored for that."

The coaches and other members of the organization weighed in on the rarity of a player of Pierce's caliber spending his entire career with one team.

"Well it tells you what the Celtics are," said Rivers. "When you look at the history of the Celtics, Tommy Heinsohn, a career Celtic, Bill Russell. I mean, it goes on and on. There are a lot of guys that start here and finish here, and I think it really has to do with the tradition of the Celtics."

Added president of basketball operations Danny Ainge: "I think there's some players that are special enough, like Paul, in a storied franchise like the Celtics that I think [he] is one of the best five players anyway. Maybe better, but one of the best five players, and maybe the best offensive player in Celtics history.

"And, because he's done it so consistently, and he's done it for such a long period of time, his durability is a talent in its own right. Paul plays with a lot of pain and a lot of injuries and he's overcome a lot, and carried a team when the team wasn't very good. He's a special player. It's been fun being with him."