Pierce details special pregame ritual with Tommy Heinsohn


If you've watched Boston Celtics games closely over the years, you may have noticed a familiar occurrence: Paul Pierce sidling up to broadcasters Tommy Heinsohn and Mike Gorman for a chat before tip-off.

So, what did those conversations entail? After hearing of Heinsohn's passing at age 86, Pierce joined NBC Sports Boston's Kyle Draper and Brian Scalabrine to share some insight into his chats with the iconic Celtics player-turned-coach-turned-broadcaster.

"I would go up to him and Mike (and say), 'Hey, who are the referees tonight? What do you think of them?' We shared that moment every night," Pierce said.

Forsberg: Tommy Heinsohn was "Mr. Celtic"

Heinsohn also gave Pierce feedback about his game, channeling his inner coach to give the Celtics star some straightforward advice.

Paul Pierce: "Tommy Heinsohn always kept it honest with you."

"He always kept it honest with you, and that's the one thing I really respect," Pierce said. "He wouldn't be in your face telling you how great you are. He would let you know what you need to be doing better, what you can do to improve. That's just who he was."

Pierce was a 10-time All-Star and one of the greatest Celtics ever, but Heinsohn always had advice for how he could improve -- and harped on one aspect in particular.

" .. One thing he constantly said: 'Paul, the midrange is open. You've got to get back to that,' " Pierce recalled. "He always reminded me of that."

Heinsohn spoke from experience: The midrange shot was a key part of his own game during his nine seasons with the Celtics, during which he averaged 18.6 points per game, made six All-Star teams and helped Boston win eight championships.


Heinsohn acquired a vast amount of knowledge over six decades as a player, coach and broadcaster, and he made a point to pass that knowledge down to players like Pierce.

"He always had words for you," Pierce said. "You just love that. Guys wanted that. They wanted to hear what former greats had to say, guys who watched you and critiqued you every single night, because he knew things about your game that you probably didn't realize because he's watching you. He's a true student of the game."

Check out Pierce's full remembrance of Heinsohn -- including his unique relationship with the "Tommy Award" -- in the video below.