Pierce, KG and the Celtics
Paul Pierce went from good to great in six games during last year’s NBA Finals.
When Pierce led his Celtics into the Ford Center two years ago against the Hornets, he was a good player who had advanced past the first round of the playoffs only twice in his nine seasons. But when Pierce leads the defending champion Boston Celtics into the Ford Center tonight, he’ll step onto the court as an 11th-year pro who is now undoubtedly a future Hall of Famer.
“Championships legitimize you,” said Thunder coach P.J. Carlesimo.
The word “but” no longer fits on the tail end of sentences describing Pierce, as in, “He’s one of the best players in the league but he’s not a winner.” Pierce’s performance throughout last season, and most importantly against the Los Angeles Lakers in the Finals, destroyed any remaining doubt.
He sacrificed but scored when it was needed. He bought into the team concept. He shared the spotlight with Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. He played the best defense of his career in the Finals against Kobe Bryant, last year’s regular season MVP.
He was rewarded by winning the Finals MVP.
“I think the most important thing that he did in that Finals is he took on that challenge to guard Kobe Bryant and show that he is a good defender,” said Minnesota forward and former Pierce teammate Ryan Gomes.
Said Minnesota forward and former Pierce mate Al Jefferson: “He didn’t surprise me one bit. I learned a lot from Paul. I see why they call him “The Truth.” I saw that when I first got drafted. He didn’t have that name for no reason. What he did in that Finals didn’t shock me or surprise me at all. He had never been there, but once he got there I knew he had to make his mark.”
In an interview with John Thompson on NBATV, Pierce talked about his doubters. About how people thought the additions of Garnett and Allen wouldn’t work from a chemistry standpoint because Pierce wouldn’t conform.
“I hear the whispers,” Pierce said. ”Of course you hear it. It gets around. But I knew what I was capable of. I knew I could sacrifice. But I knew it would be hard on me to sacrifice with younger players. When we brought the players in that were capable it was easy.”
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