Top NBA Players: #21 Paul Pierce

June 5, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; Boston Celtics forward Paul Pierce (34) drives to the basket as Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (6) defends during the first half in game five of the Eastern Conference finals of the 2012 NBA playoffs at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

Paul Pierce
Resume: 19.4 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.1 steals, 34.0 minutes, 293 free throws made (10th in league), 44% FG, 37% 3PT, and 85% FT… Team record in games played: 38-23 (1-4 without)… Playoffs: 18.9 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.5 steals, 39% FG, 89% FT, 11-9 record

You want the truth?

The truth is for the last five years Paul Pierce has been my least favorite player in the NBA (for anyone wondering, this title now belongs to Dwight Howard). Ever since Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen joined forces with Pierce and the Boston Big Three was formed, Pierce has been my most hated athlete who hasn’t been a part of some sort of steroid controversy (or part of screwing over his team, coaches, and fans). Sure, this is incredibly hypocritical since LeBron James and Chris Bosh took their talents to South Beach and I didn’t change my stance on LeBron one bit. Hey, speaking of LeBron…

The truth is Paul Pierce has been LeBron James’ biggest rival over LeBron’s nine year career. This is in part because there hasn’t yet been the much anticipated Kobe/LeBron James Finals matchup, and we can’t be sure where the Durant/LeBron rivalry is heading. Even though this doesn’t seem like much of a bragging point for Pierce, it is when you consider that LeBron could very likely end up a top 5 player in NBA history, and if Pierce goes down as LeBron’s biggest rival, that’s one heck of a compliment. LeBron has battled Pierce’s Celtics four times in the postseason. LeBron and Pierce have split the four series 2-2, but LeBron has a slight 13-12 edge in overall games, and a major statistical advantage in the postseason:
LeBron: 28.9 points, 8.8 rebounds, 5.6 assists, 45% FG
Pierce: 17.6 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 38% FG

However, Pierce has just as many stand-out games in those postseason meetings as LeBron does. In 2008 Pierce outdueled LeBron in a memorable game 7. In 2010 Pierce led the charge late to closeout LeBron and the Cavaliers in game 6. Even as recently as this past postseason Pierce has gotten the better of LeBron, nailing a major Eff-You three pointer right in LeBron’s face to give the Celtics a 3-2 series lead over Miami. Sure, the next game LeBron came back in game 6 looking like a highly trained assassin, but that is a conversation meant for another time.

The truth is Paul Pierce hasn’t lost the unique ability to scare the hell out of me even though he is 35 years old and going into 15th NBA season. If anything he’s becoming more and more terrifying over time because I know he is still more than capable of putting the Celtics on his back and delivering in the biggest moments. Game two vs. Atlanta in the 1st round, already facing a 1-0 series deficit and playing without Rajon Rondo, Pierce comes through with a humongous 36 point, 14 rebound, 1 Tebow game. I’ve refused to write off the Celtics for the past 2 or 3 years because Pierce is always capable of performances like that. He’s been doing it his entire career.

The truth is Paul Pierce is near the top of the all-time Celtics ranks. You could argue that he is sitting in 4th on the all-time Celtics ranks behind Bill Russell, Larry Bird and John Havlicek. At least that are what his numbers show. Pierce holds is first in Celtics history in three-point field goals made, 2nd in points scored, 2nd in steals, 3rd in games played, 5th in total assists, and 7th in rebounds. Meanwhile, he’s been one of the most consistent stars of the 2000’s, and has gotten the better of virtually every other star player in the last decade (Kobe, LeBron, Wade, etc.).

The truth is… Paul Pierce is The Truth. Even I have to admit that.