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You Can’t Handle “The Truth”

Whether it’s calling game, or calling it like it is. “The Truth” is one of one, and undeniably a legend.

Header by Mars Robinson

When you think of Paul Pierce, what’s your first initial thought? If you say anything pertaining to him being a “washed up ESPN analyst”, than this article is just for you. If you’re like me and enjoy basketball for what it is and love taking trips down memory lane, then this article is also for you.

This will be the last installment for Black History Month and I wanted to show my appreciation and gratitude for Oakland’s own, Paul Pierce.

Paul Pierce or “The Truth” attended Inglewood High where he was cut from his school’s basketball team both his Freshman and Sophomore years. Thoughts of possibly transferring were up in the air, but after putting in the work, Pierce became their best player. And by the end of his Senior year, Pierce was averaging 27 PPG, 11 RPG, & 4 APG. He was also a McDonald’s All-American.

Paul would call Kansas University his home from 95'-98', where he averaged a combined 16.4 PPG, 6.3 RPG & 2.2 APG. This includes his Junior year in which he averaged 20.4 PPG, 6.7 RPG & 2.6 APG on 51/33/73 shooting splits. Pierce was a 2x Big 12 Conference Tournament MVP, was named First Team All-Big 12, and was a finalist his Junior year for the 98' John Wooden and Naismith awards.

Credit to NCAA Throwback

After his Junior year, Pierce would enter his name into the 98' NBA Draft where he went 10th overall to the Boston Celtics. Oddly enough, Paul absolutely hated the Celtics as a child. Nevertheless, Paul was named a starter from the jump, and in his Rookie season Pierce came out the gates on fire with 19 or more points scored in his first 10 games. For the season, he would average 16.5 PPG on 43% shooting from the field and be named to the NBA’s All-Rookie first team. This was unfortunately the same year the NBA had a lockout, so Pierce only played in 47 games. But it did give us a glimpse of what “P-Double” would be bringing to the league.

Paul Pierce on stage at the 98' NBA Draft. Alongside him, the late NBA Commissioner, David Stern.

For his Sophomore season, Pierce would up his scoring to 19.5 PPG on 44% shooting from the field, and he would now begin to be looked at as one of the best young scorers in the league. But Pierce would set himself up for an amazing third season, which is also the same season he put it all together back at Kansas. Guess the man had a thing for the number “three”.

For his third season, Pierce would play and start in all 82 games and would average 25.3 PPG, 3.1 APG & 6.4 RPG on 45/38/74 shooting splits. He led the Celtics in scoring and was eight overall in league scoring. It’s safe to say that the 00'-01' season was definitely Paul Pierce’s coming out party, but it was only the beginning of what was a fruitful and long career.

The 01'-02' season saw Paul Pierce go on a ABSOLUTE tear. He was named to his first of five straight All-Star games in 2002, a season in which he averaged 26.1 PPG on 44/40/80 shooting splits. He led the Celtics to the Eastern Conference Finals, which went down as a classic series thanks to Pierce and his 19 point 4th quarter in a 21 point comeback win in game three against the Nets.

Credit to NBA on ESPN

From 02'-06' Pierce averaged a combined 24.3 PPG on 43/32/80 shooting splits. Four more All-Star games would ensue, as well as All-NBA third team nods in 02' and 03'. Unfortunately, the Celtics as a franchise were falling apart, and in the 06'-07' season, the Celtics only won a total of 24 games. Paul Pierce averaged 25.0 PPG, but only played 47 games because of injury. This would also end his streak of five straight All-Star game appearances. Reinforcements would be on the way however, and man did the Celtics strike gold or what?

Paul Pierce with newly acquired stars Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen

After a disappointing 06' season, Pierce lobbied for more veterans as he felt like he needed the load of carrying young talent taken off of his shoulders. What he got in return was a former MVP and defensive anchor (via trade) in Kevin Garnett, and a three-point specialist (via free agency) in Ray Allen.

The Celtics now had a “Big Three” and on paper they looked like potential NBA Champions.

They wasted no time getting that done either.

For the 07'-08' NBA season, which was also Pierce’s 10th, the Boston Celtics were clearly just on another level and it was shown in their play. When you have three superstars on one team, sacrifices have to be made in order for it to be successful. Pierce, who averaged 26.8 PPG just two years prior only averaged 19.6 PPG alongside KG and Allen.

Pierce notched his 6th All-Star appearance and the Celtics finished the season with an insane record of 66-16. After taking down the Hawks, Cavs, and the Pistons, Pierce found himself in the NBA Finals for the very first time in his career. The Celtics “Big Three” found themselves against the Los Angeles Lakers, which made for another historic Finals between two bitter rivals.

In this series against the late, great, Kobe Bryant, Paul Pierce averaged 21.8 PPG, 6.3 APG & 4.5 RPG on 43/39/83 shooting splits. This would include an All-Time classic moment in which Paul Pierce would be wheeled to the locker room after suffering an “injury” in the third quarter of game one. He later came out and scored 15 points in the quarter and the Celtics would take a 1-0 lead.

Credit to Tomasz Kordylewski

The Celtics would go on to win the 2008 NBA Championship over the Lakers in six games. Pierce would be named Finals MVP, and would capture the only ring of his illustrious career.

From 09'-12' Paul Pierce would appear in four more All-Star games for a total of ten for his career. In those seasons he averaged a combined 19.2 PPG on 46% shooting from the field. The Celtics would go back to the Finals in 2010, but would lose to the Lakers in seven games. throughout those seasons the Celtics dealt with numerous injuries, and the “Big Three” that brought the city of Boston their 17th championship would begin to age.

By 2013, Pierce who at this time was 35, found himself as a piece in one of the biggest NBA trades in NBA history when the Celtics traded him and KG (among others) to the Brooklyn Nets. From there he went to the Washington Wizards, where he gave us another classic moment when he hit the GW shot to take a 2-1 lead over the Hawks in 2015.

Credit to Beyond_The_Game

Paul Pierce would play two more years in the NBA, both with the Los Angeles Clippers. Reunited with Coach Doc Rivers, Paul would be a vital bench guy, and locker room vet for the “Lob City” Clippers.

You didn’t think Paul Pierce would retire as a Clipper did you? Pierce made sure to sign a “ceremonial” contract with the Celtics in July of 2017 ensuring that he would retire as a Celtic. The Boston Celtics would retire Pierce’s #34 jersey the following season.

Paul Pierce during his jersey retirement.

Paul Pierce is often disrespected when his name is brought up. Yes, he can say some things that can be deemed as “hate”, but you can not forget just how much of a dog he was for Boston. Standing at 6'7 and weighing 235 pounds, the speed, or lack thereof that he played with made him deadly. The game never slowed down for Paul Pierce, he forced it to play at his pace. Everything he did on the court was both smooth and effortless and we can not forget that.

Credit to the NBA

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Original reporting and curated sports data journalism. Actively looking for additional writers.

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Mars Robinson

Mars Robinson

Freelance NBA writer and host of NBA podcast “No Bias” Twitter: @marsjoint

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