Pierce played nine seasons with the C's without a championship. The team had some success here and there, made it to the Eastern conference semi's in a couple seasons, tried a few trades but never made a serious run. Rondo (the C's Ty Lawson) made a big impact in his first season but didn't put the team over the hump.
Then in Pierce's 10th season the big three was assembled, champagne ensued. The formula is classic: versatile big man, shot-creating small forward, deadly wing player surrounded by good support. No reason why the nuggs couldn't do the same in the next three years.
The bigger lesson though is the credit that Paul Pierce has received for being a Celtic his entire career. This is his team, his championships, his last shot, even with Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen along for the ride. If Melo waited it out in Denver he could get the same kind of credit. If he joins a big three in New York he never will.