No superstar has been disrespected by modern NBA fans more than Paul Pierce. Yes, it doesn’t help that Pierce’s basketball related opinions were a bit outrageous at times when he worked as an analyst for ESPN, but that isn’t nearly enough to discredit all he managed to do in his NBA career. Make no mistake about it, Pierce was one of the best players of the 2000s.
Though he was never a member of all the All-NBA First Team, he was a Second Team and Third Team member, he was a 10-time All-Star, a former NBA Finals MVP and NBA Champion, and holds countless Boston Celtics franchise records, including being the second all-time leading scorer (beating Larry Bird). Though it’s not in the record books, he was also stabbed 11 times in a nightclub in 2000 but still managed to be the only Celtic to play all 82 games that season.
This is yet another reason among many, as to why he has earned the nickname, “The Truth”.
His formidable duo with Antoine Walker was one of the fiercest in the Eastern Conference and if the front office worked a little bit harder, they could’ve put that Boston Celtics team in the NBA Finals much earlier than they ended up being. In fact, they were only two games away in 2002. During this crazy postseason run, Pierce helped deliver an incredible 21-point comeback to help beat the Jason Kidd-led New Jersey Nets in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Many consider this to be one of the greatest 4th Quarter comebacks in NBA history, with Pierce scoring 19 of his 28 points in the final 12 minutes of the game. Pierce and Walker were a better duo than Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are now and for some reason, no one talks about them. Why is this? It’s because Pierce wasn’t a “Human Highlight Film” like many other contemporaries of his era.
Vince Carter is talked about more and he didn’t accomplish half of what Paul Pierce did. What Pierce brought to the table just wasn’t appreciated enough. What was impressive about him was his pure basketball skill. That’s what endeared him to true basketball fans. The all-time Celtic was a fundamentally sound one-on-one scorer that could get a bucket on any player, no matter the size. He didn’t rely on his athleticism like a lot of players do.
He would use it once in a while, but a majority of his points were collected by smartly using his bigger frame and positioning his body well enough to be able to frustrate defenders. Kobe Bryant himself said how difficult it was to guard the larger forward. Pierce was even able to defend Bryant extraordinarily well too, another fact that no one seems to mention.
Pierce was deceptively quick with his handle and first step and though he wouldn’t beat a lot of players in a foot race, he was quick enough and smart enough to get past a defender off of his well-practiced movements on the court. He was a master at catching people off guard to get his slower jump shot off too. If he was wide open and had enough time to set his feet, forget about it.
He was a knockdown shooter.
He was also one of the most clutch players in NBA history, with countless game winners and clutch baskets under his belt. This is something that stayed with him for the entirety of his career. Who could forget his block on Kyle Lowry in Game 7 of the quarterfinals to save the Brooklyn Nets in 2014, creating a rivalry of himself versus Toronto fans that lasted until he retired?
Who could forget Pierce’s game winner in his lone season with the Wizards, at the ripe age of 38 no less, to win Game 3 of the semi-finals against the Atlanta Hawks?
Then, there’s the iconic post-game interview with Chris Broussard:
Broussard: “Did you call bank?”.
Pierce: “I called game!”
He probably would’ve won Game 6 too, had his three-pointer released from his hands a half-second earlier.
You can make fun of him for his stint as an analyst all you want but the fact that Pierce admitted that ESPN has an agenda to promote LeBron James is all us basketball fans needed to hear and made his run there worthwhile. I assumed they did because of how crazy it has gotten over the years, but the fact that we got a confirmation of it is even crazier, reassuring us of our doubts of mainstream sports media and how corrupt it can be.
You can thank “The Truth” for that.
People keep bringing up Draymond Green’s trash talk towards the legend as a way to disparage him, but we need to stop with the disrespect. Pierce took on some of the best players in the history of basketball (LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, etc.) and has beaten them on numerous occasions and on bigger stages. If the fourth best player on the Warriors has something to say that’s fine, but don’t act like Pierce wouldn’t give him the work in his prime.
P.S. He didn’t need, nor did he say he wanted a farewell tour like Kobe.
I’m not sure why people pass off what Draymond Green of all people, say as fact. He just wanted respect on his way out and the real fans and players gave it to him. Don’t try to ruin Pierce’s legacy because you didn’t like what he said as an analyst. Paul Pierce is “The Truth” and is, was, and will forever be one of the greats in the history of the game.
Featured Image Credit: AP Photo/Jae C. Hong. Jim Davis/Globe Staff
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