LOS ANGELES • Paul Pierce has departed the National Basketball Association (NBA) with "no regrets" despite the bitter disappointment of the Los Angeles Clippers' first-round play-off loss to the Utah Jazz on Sunday.
"I really enjoyed myself with this group this year. Regardless of what happened today with the basketball, I'm happy," he said.
"What I've been able to accomplish, what I've been able to do with my career, I gave every ounce I could. I have no regrets."
After the retirements of Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan, the NBA bids farewell to another star of the 2000s.
The 39-year-old Pierce won a title with the Boston Celtics in 2008. But his bid to recapture that magic with former Celtics coach Doc Rivers in Los Angeles - where he signed with the Clippers as a free agent before the 2015 season - did not pan out.
Nevertheless, he was hailed by his peers as one of the greats.
Every year you set a goal to be champions and it's a tough pill to swallow every year. I've been in the league 19 years and had to swallow 18 tough pills.''
PAUL PIERCE, retired LA Clippers forward, on winning an NBA title just once in his 19-year career.
"Paul Pierce is 'The Truth'," Bryant told The Players' Tribune website - a nod to Pierce's nickname. A video tribute on the website featured Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal, Oscar Robertson and an emotional Kevin Garnett, Pierce's team-mate at Boston and Brooklyn, among others.
Pierce later tweeted his thanks: "Thanku to all my NBA brothers and sisters associated with the game a game Ive loved my whole life but now ready for a new chapter stay tuned."
Pierce leaves the game with 26,397 career points, the 15th most on the league's all-time scoring list.
On Sunday he played 22 minutes, scoring six points and pulling down three rebounds.
He left the court waving to fans in his hometown, where his time with the Clippers at last let him play regularly in front of his family members, including his mother, Lorraine.
"It's tough if you come up short of your goals," Pierce said.
"Every year you set a goal to be champions and it's a tough pill to swallow every year. I've been in the league 19 years and had to swallow 18 tough pills."
The Jazz enjoyed another smooth ride through Staples Centre on Sunday. Gordon Hayward had 26 points to lead seven Utah players who scored in double figures, and they eliminated the Clippers from the Western Conference play-offs with a 104-91 victory in Game 7.
George Hill and Derrick Favors contributed 17 points apiece as the Jazz, who won three of their four games on the Clippers' home court, advanced to the second round, where they will meet the Golden State Warriors.
Game 1 is today at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS