SF, 2.01 m, 107kg, 10th pick1998 Draft
College: Kansas (1995-1998)
Boston Celtics (1998-2013), Brooklyn Nets (2013-2014), Washington Wizards (2014-2015), Los Angeles Clippers (2015-2017).
Career Statistics 26,397 points (19.7 ppg), 7,527 rebounds (5.6 rpg), 4,708 assists (3.5 apg)
NBA Champion (2008), NBA Finals MVP (2008), 10 x NBA All Star (2002-2006, 2008-2012)
No. 34 retired by University of Kansas
No. 34 retired by Boston Celtics
As a kid all I was hearing was about the great Michael Jordan and his accomplishments in the NBA. Most of the people were wearing Chicago Bulls apparel, even in my house there was a Bulls beanie which to this day i still don't know how it got there. I belong to this group of people who I call ''unlucky'' because i didn't witness Jordan's majesty in live action. When I started watching NBA, MJ was in a Wizards uniform and by the way he was still killing it! The ''cool'' teams back then were the Lakers of Shaq & Kobe and the Sixers of Iverson. There was a TV channel that used to play matches in replay , thanks to that I got really involved with the NBA and I was patiently waiting everyday to return home from school and watch the games.
While enjoying the spectacle and all those awesome players I couldn't decide which team to root for. Until one day, I watched a basketball player doing something unreal. His name, you guessed it right.. Paul Pierce! I had watched a couple of Celtics game before I knew the player but I couldn't believe what he did in that game. I'm talking about the 2002 Eastern Conference Finals, the Celtics were playing the Nets. Game three and the teams were tied at 1-1. The Celtics were trailing by as many as 26 points and 21 in the start of the fourth quarter. Then the greatest comeback in NBA playoff history happened. The Celtics won the game while Pierce was unstoppable scoring 19 points in the last quarter. That was it for me, Paul won the game for his team but also won and created one of his biggest fans. Although the Celtics lost the series, it didn't matter because from that day I became a Celtic fan for life.
Growing up in California, a kid from Inglewood like Pierce couldn't be anything other than a Lakers fan. Living only a few ''steps'' away from The Forum, were the Lakers used to play, he hated the Celtics because of the rivalry between the two teams. He could never have imagined that the Celtics would draft him and then end up as a legend in Boston. Pierce had a workout with the Celtics although he was projected to be a top five pick. But the small forward from the university of Kansas slid down to the 10th pick, where the Celtics snagged him. And the biggest irony of them all, he won a championship after beating the Lakers.
Getting into Paul's “world'', later, I learned about his stabbing incident and I was shocked. Back in 2000, Pierce was stabbed 11 times, mostly in the back (some very close to his heart), neck and face, plus he had to undergo lung surgery to fix the damage. The episode took place at a club in Boston. Teammate at the time, Tony Battie along with his brother saved Pierce's life by driving him to a hospital. Pierce was wearing a leather jacket which maybe protected him from further damage. ''Pierce was very lucky'' K.C. Jones, a Celtics legend, said, ''He had the angles on his side''. After his recovery, the following season he didn't miss a single game. He played all 82 the games and averaged 25.3 points per game, while becoming the cornerstone of the franchise alongside Antoine Walker.
A couple of months after he got stabbed, Pierce put on a show against the Lakers, were he scored 42 points, the Celtics lost the game but Shaquille O'Neal after that game had some very wise words to say about him. Shaq being very impressed told a reporter that ''Pierce is the (expletive) truth!'' Shaq gave Pierce the nickname ''The Truth'' which followed him his entire career. Getting those type of words from one of the greatest centers in the game, brought a lot of confidence in Paul, especially at that time, as a young player who was trying to make a name for himself in the League.
The Celtics struggled a lot until 2007. All these years since he got drafted, Pierce played for bad to mediocre Celtics teams, at best they tried a couple of times to make a run in the playoffs. Pierce didn't have the supporting cast he needed but he never asked to be traded, even though he clearly was not happy. The 06-07 season was a disaster. Because of an injury, Pierce missed almost half the season and the Celtics finished with the second worst record in the NBA. In addition, after the season ended the draft lottery didn't help his team either. While they could have gotten the first or the second overall pick, they got the -worst case scenario- fifth selection. And my dreams of seeing Kevin Durant in a Celtics uniform got wrecked. Yes, KD was in that draft! I was really disappointed but Danny Ainge made his move. He brought Ray Allen from the Seattle Supersonics and traded away the 5th pick (Jeff Green), Wally Szczerbiak and Delonte West. But one of the biggest trades ever came one month later. One of my favorite players, Kevin Garnett, was traded to the Celtics in exchange for Al Jefferson, Gerald Green, Sebastian Telfair, Ryan Gomes, Theo Ratliff, two future picks and cash considerations. It was crazy, I couldn't believe what had happened. Paul's loyalty to the team was rewarded and the Celtics from being one of the worst teams in the NBA became champions the next year and won their 17th championship and Pierce's first!
The person named Danny Ainge has done a few things that i'm really grateful. Like bringing together Pierce, Garnett and Allen, but he also did something ruthless, for my standards at least: In 2013, Ainge traded Pierce and Garnett to the Brooklyn Nets. My reaction at first, that's awful, he can't do this, not to them and especially Paul. In that trade Celtics got many future draft picks. I believe the Celtics still own a pick from that trade. Even though that move was nasty, it was the right move.
Except for the banner 17, which is one of my personal favorite sport moments ever, Pierce gave to the fans some superb performances and moments. Many buzzer beaters and game winning shots made him one of the most clutch players in NBA history.
In Game 1 of the 2008 NBA Finals against the Lakers, Pierce went down in the third quarter holding his leg and was carried off the court on a wheelchair. At that moment I freaked out, the Celtics reached the finals and Pierce left the game with a serious injury? You gotta be kidding me! For my soothe and all the Celtics fans, Pierce after a bit came back, he made back to back three pointers and led the way to the victory. Boston won the Finals 4-2 and destroyed the Lakers in the 6th game 131-92. Pierce won the Finals MVP as well!
Another great moment was the battle with LeBron James and the Cavaliers, in the 2008 Eastern Conference Semifinals. Game 7 and it's a 1on1 duel between The Truth and The King. An amazing battle where James scored 45 points and Pierce 41, while making some huge shots. The Celtics won the game to advance in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Pistons.
Paul's battles with the Pacers were also pretty special, mostly the ones with Ron Artest and Al Harrington. His non-stop trash talking with Harrington and hitting a couple of big shots in his face, and of course the rivalry with Artest (Metta World Peace). Who can forget the time that Artest pulled down Pierce's shorts trying to defend him and then Pierce drained a 3-pointer over him?!
Following his time in Boston, Pierce had an impact on the other teams that he played as well. Some of his most memorable moments including the huge block on Kyle Lowry in the final seconds of game 7 in the Nets-Raptors series in 2014. A year later again against Toronto, Pierce was playing for the Wizards and ''killed'' the Raptors with some big shots. Same year, next round, he hit a few buzzer beaters against the Hawks too.
One of the most emotional moments was Pierce's last game at the TD Garden, this time as player of the Clippers. Paul knelt and kissed the Celtics logo, he didn't play much but he closed the game with a three pointer and the crowd went crazy, cheering for him!
Almost a month ago “The Truth” had his jersey retirement ceremony. #34 is up to the rafters together with all the other Celtics legends, where it belongs. It was an unbelievable night for Pierce and his family but also for all the Celtics fans too. Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo and many other players and members of the Celtics organization were there for Paul's special night.
Paul Pierce made me fall in love with the city of Boston and also to support all the professional teams from that area. Especially the Patriots which i'm a huge fan, so thanks to Pierce I got to root for the legendary Quarterback Tom Brady and celebrate the Patriots surreal success.