‘The Truth’ about Paul Pierce and 20,000 points
|11.04.10 at 1:24 am ET|
There are many reasons Paul Pierce is considered ‘The Truth’ around the NBA. He is the go-to guy and captain of the Celtics who leads the team by word and action. On Wednesday, he did both and his reward was a place in NBA history – a place only 35 others have reached – 20,000 points in a career.
“Coming into the game I knew it, but I didn’t want to press it, but I knew I needed 23 I think tonight to get it, I knew once I got to 22 I looked up and it was a great opportunity, as a player about certain things and they know,” Pierce admitted.
With the TD Garden crowd rising in anticipation, Pierce became just the 36th player in NBA history to reach the milestone when he made the first of two free throws with 13.3 seconds left in overtime during the Celtics’ 105-102 win over Milwaukee on Wednesday night. Pierce followed that by converting the second to put the Celtics up four points, giving them a cushion they would need to win their third straight.
He spoke the truth about his feelings afterward.
“You know it was an emotional moment for me, tough for me to swallow,” Pierce said. “I was just thinking about all the years I have been here and you don’t see it to often where a player accomplishes that kind of feat playing with one team. It is a great accomplishment. The fans seeing my ups and downs throughout the years and sticking with me, just to be able to accomplish this type of feat, it means a lot to me I am not going to downplay it.”
All those years began mounting when Pierce – fresh out of Kansas University in 1998 – came to Boston in the 1998-99. But that’s not what he was thinking with 13.3 seconds to go in overtime and his team still only up, three.
“When I thought about it it wouldn’t have felt this good if we didn’t get the win so I tried to keep my composer relax take deep breathes and I got the throws,” he said.
Was he emotional at all about joining Larry Bird and John ‘Hondo’ Havlicek as 20,000-point men, all coming in Celtics green? Did he think of the lean years from 2005-07 when the mounting losses nearly became too much for Pierce to handle.
“A little bit, it was a little emotional, a lot of people in here they seen a lot of that, 20,000, not a lot of people in NBA history have accomplished that, just to make history for the NBA is great, 5 years ago I wouldn’t have dreamed I would be scoring 20,000 points in a Celtics uniform, the team was going in a direction, I was a disgruntled player at the time, to be here and be talking about this feet is an incredible moment for me.”
Doc Rivers joked about how the Celtics blowing a six-point lead in the final minute gave Pierce his chance at history.
“Yeah, we just thought we needed to,” Rivers joked. “You know, not execute for about four, five minutes in the game, send it into overtime because we wanted to get it out of the way tonight. It was very important for us.
“Obviously the win was great. We were awful down the stretch, all of us. [Rajon] Rondo’s feet were bothering him, so he couldn’t handle the ball, and couldn’t get in anything. So we were going through a lot of stuff that last 2 ½ minutes. But the 20,000 point thing is just phenomenal. I can’t comprehend it, for me, what the hell? I saw 20,000 shots from ‘Nique [Dominique Wilkins]. It’s awesome. It really is. I don’t know how many people have done it; I don’t know any of the numbers. But 36 in NBA history, that’s amazing. It really is, when you think about it.
“That’s awesome, though. How many other guys have done it in one place? When you think about it, on other teams. Karl Malone, I would guess. Maybe. Maybe he got his with the Lakers the last year, who knows? Still, it’s just awesome. Tommy [Heinsohn] – so I’m going to go with Tommy because he knows more Celtic history than anyone – thinks Paul is the best scorer to ever play here. Maybe not the best all-around, but the best scorer. So you can do a Top 10 list tomorrow and work that in.”
On the dais with Pierce was one of those 35 other players to reach 20,000, Kevin Garnett. Did he remember getting emotional for your 20,000 points?
“No actually I don’t but it is a great feat to be honest,” Garnett said. “It is something that inadvertently I didn’t really think of until you are right there on the door step knocking on the door and then it hits you. You are part of history and as Paul said to do it in one uniform is very special, nonetheless just do it, it means a lot. It means a lot that there are only a select few in that is in that category. It is a very very small window of people that are in it. It is a good list of people to be neighbored by, so congratulations Paul.”