By Tony Massarotti, 98.5 The Sports Hub
The Boston Globe went old school on Sunday, point-counterpoint, Dan Shaughnessy and Bob Ryan. The latter argued for keeping Tom Brady. The former argued for moving on from him. And you, like most everyone, undoubtedly fell on one side or the other.
And before we go any further, this should be obvious: there is no wrong answer here. What’s important to you is what’s important to you, and there are plenty of people who agree with you.
But if we’re going to argue the point, here’s where I ultimately land:
With Jayson Tatum and, for that matter, Jaylen Brown.
Allow me to explain.
By 2013, the window had closed for the latest championship incarnation of the Celtics, who lost in the first round of the playoffs to the New York Knicks. (Think about that for a second.) The Celtics subsequently tore the house to the studs, completing a well-chronicled deal with the Brooklyn Nets that shipped away Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, the latter of whom had been a lifelong Celtic. In exchange, Boston got four first-round picks – in 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2018 – which ultimately produced James Young (2014), Robert Williams (2018), Brown (2016) and Tatum (2017), the last of whom made his first All-Star Game this year and has many believing, with his recent play, that he is on the cusp of superstardom.
Pretty simple, right? You mortgage some of the present for a good chunk of the future.
Admittedly, this isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison. Pierce had played his entire career – as has Brady – but you could argue that no professional player in the last 50 years has meant more to his franchise than Brady. Both are future Hall of Famers in their respective sports, for certain, but nobody anywhere really compares to Brady, who won a championship in his first year as a starter – and won five more after that.
But then there is this: if you watched the Celtics’ loss to the Houston Rockets on Saturday night, you undoubtedly noticed Pierce whipping the Garden crowd into a frenzy during the Celtics high points. Nobody remembers now that Pierce was traded away at the end – or at least no one cares. He is, was and always will be a Celtic, no matter for whom he played his final games.
In the end, as we all know, things will be precisely the same for Brady – and then some. As a result of Brady’s departure, the Patriots will certainly be worse in 2020. Where they go from there (or here) is anybody’s guess. But the window on Brady and the Patriots is undoubtedly closing (or closed) the way it was for Pierce in 2013, and no one needs to be reminded that the Patriots were bounced from the playoffs by the Tennessee Titans.
Does that mean the Patriots would be foolish to keep Brady and forge ahead? In my mind, yes; in your mind, maybe not. Again, it’s really a matter of preference. And while it’s hardly a perfect comparison – again, the Celtics traded Pierce while Brady will depart as a free agent – you get the idea.
Simply put, if Paul Pierce had stayed, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum simply wouldn’t be here.
And as for the effect on Pierce’s legacy, well, he seemed a Celtic more than ever on Saturday night.