Top 10 memorable Paul Pierce moments
Top 10 memorable Paul Pierce moments
BOSTON – Here’s a look at 10 moments that rank among the most memorable of Paul Pierce's illustrious, Hall of Fame-worthy career:
THE 2006-2007 SEASON
There were plenty of reasons for Paul Pierce to want out after the 2006-2007 season. The team had struggled mightily that year, going on long stretches with mounting losses. At one point, they lost a franchise-record 18 in a row. For all that Pierce did during his time with Boston, ex-Celtics head coach Doc Rivers has a tremendous amount of respect for Pierce who was more locked into being a Celtic for life as opposed to becoming a basketball mercenary looking to play with whatever team is ripe to grow into a title contender. His loyalty was rewarded the following season when the Celtics won the franchise’s 17th NBA title.
DRAFT NIGHT, 1998
It’s a happy time for anyone fortunate to be among the chosen. But the irony of Pierce’s landing spot and all that transpired afterwards, is not lost on him. Growing up just a few steps away from The Forum in Pierce’s hometown of Inglewood, Calif., the last thing he was thinking about was being a Celtic. Projected to be a top-five pick, Pierce slide all the way to the Celtics who were holding on to the 10th overall pick. “A kid from LA,” Pierce said. “Grew up walking distance from the Forum; a lot of the battles between the Lakers and Celtics went on. And to not like the Celtics and then to play for the Celtics and win a championship against the Lakers … it’s probably as ironic as it’s gonna get as far as a career and the way it went down. It’s crazy how some things work in your life. I get picked 10th by the Celtics, a team I didn’t have on my radar. You knew it was for a reason. That’s something my family talked about. When I got drafted, they said you here for a reason. And now I’m starting to figure out that reason why (I) got picked there.
FIRST ALL-STAR SELECTION, 2002
The clearest indicator of Pierce’s arrival as an above-average NBA player, was when he was named to his first all-star game. He was chosen by the coaches as a reserve, but put up Pierce-like numbers coming off the bench with 19 points on 9-for-18 shooting with seven rebounds and three assists.
THE WHEELCHAIR GAME
It has been the butt of jokes, memes and funny-as-hell jpegs and gifs for years! Yes, we’re talking about Game 1 of the 2008 NBA Finals when Pierce went down in the third quarter, held his right leg writhing in pain and was eventually carried off the court and helped into a wheelchair. Not even two minutes elapsed before he was back on the bench, hopping and bopping around, eager to get back in the game. He returned, knocked down a couple of back-to-back 3’s and the Celtics were on their way to a Game 1 win and later, they brought home Banner 17. Depending on who you ask, Pierce was either overly dramatic and faked he was hurt to have a pseudo-Willis Reed moment, or the pain went away after coming on hard and fast. Regardless, it has become a part of the Paul Pierce narrative as a Celtic.
2008 EASTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS VERSUS CLEVELAND
This was one of the many great playoff series in 2008, but no individual game compared to the winner-take-all Game 7 matchup that for long stretches was more of a 1-on-1 duel between Pierce and LeBron James, who had 41 and 45 points, respectively.
James may have gotten the edge in overall points, but Pierce delivered one big shot after another with both players looking reminiscent to Game 7 battle 20 years earlier between Larry Bird’s Celtics and Dominque Wilkins’ Atlanta Hawks.
Just like James won the scoring matchup but lost the game, a similar scenario played out with Bird (34 points) and Wilkins (47) points in 1988.
“Paul Pierce is one of my favorite players,” James told reporters after the loss. “I love going against the best and Paul Pierce is one of those guys.”
2002 PLAYOFF SERIES VS THE NEW JERSEY (NOW BROOKLYN) NETS
The Celtics wound up losing the series, but they delivered a gem of a game for one night (Game 3) that is the standard all playoff comebacks are measured against.
Trailing by as many as 26 points and 21 going into the fourth quarter, the Celtics pulled off the playoff miracle of all miracles in rallying for a 94-90 Game 3 win.
Pierce was extremely impressive, scoring 19 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter.
As good as it felt for them to get the win, the Celtics were never able to get rekindle that magic which allowed them to pull off the greatest comeback in NBA playoff history.
GAME 7 OF 2008 SERIES AGAINST ATLANTA
Beating the then-eighth seed Atlanta Hawks was supposed to be the first step towards bringing home Banner 17 to Boston. The Hawks weren’t supposed to be that competitive, that quickly. But there were the Celtics, in a Game 7 battle in the first round. There would be no last-second heroics needed by Pierce or any other Celtic for that matter. They absolutely thumped the Hawks 99-65, delivering a dominant performance. It’s important to point out because there’s no telling what would have happened to this group if they lost that game and with it, the series. This victory set the stage for the Celtics to win Banner 17 and Pierce to eventually claim his lone NBA Finals MVP award.
2013 NBA DRAFT
Danny Ainge had said all along that if a deal came along in which he could get what he deemed great value for Paul Pierce and/or Kevin Garnett, he wouldn’t hesitate to pull the trigger on getting it done. True to his word, Ainge shipped out Pierce, Garnett and Jason Terry to Brooklyn for a series of draft picks and a handful of players with none expected to stick around very long. The Nets were gambling that Pierce, Garnett and Terry still had enough in the tank, along with Joe Johnson and Deron Williams, to become a title contender. Playoff team, they were. Title contender? Nope. And now almost four years later, the Celtics have the right to swap picks for the 2017 draft with the Nets being dead-last and thus in the best position to have the No. 1 overall pick that belongs to Boston.
2003 PLAYOFFS VERSUS INDIANA (AL HARRINGTON TRASH TALK)
Along with playing a good game, Paul Pierce knows how to talk one, too. In one of the more iconic Paul Pierce moments as a Celtic, he and Harrington are jawing back and forth near the end of the third quarter. Pierce pulls up and drains a 3-pointer in Harrington’s mug. Boston, a sixth seed facing the third-seeded Pacers, would eventually go on to win the series 4-2.
CURTAIN CALL, HIS FINAL GAME AT THE TD GARDEN
Pierce’s final game in Boston couldn’t have been scripted any better. On the 18th anniversary of his first game as a Celtic (Feb. 5, 1999) ‘The Truth’ found himself at the TD Garden once more, this time as an LA Clipper. Moments before tip-off he knelt to the grounf at center-court and planted a kiss right on Lucky’s chest. He only spent five minutes on the court but it was only the final seconds that mattered. As the crowd cheered his name for one final time, Paul Pierce hit a three point shot as the final 12 seconds expired on the clock.