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· Administrator 12/02--7/07
36,817 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
With all the talk before deadline about what would we give up for PP, do we want PP, does Pax want PP, etc, I found this article interesting.

He is currently eighth on the Celtics’ all-time scoring list, 595 points behind seventh-place Bill Russell. He is more than halfway to John Havlicek at No. 1 in less than half the games Hondo played (53 percent of the points in 47 percent of the games).

He is 159 short of his fourth 2,000-point season, a feat accomplished only by Larry Bird in Shamrock history, and is second to Bird in career franchise per-game average, 24.3-23.4. And he’s far from through, having added four-tenths to his career average this season.

“Paul Pierce could end up being the best offensive player this team ever had,” Tommy Heinsohn said with equal amounts of boldness and backing. “And I’ve seen them all.”

A Hall of Famer himself after great careers as both a player and coach, Heinsohn isn’t just looking at the numbers, impressive as they may be. The Celts’ color commentator on FSN cablecasts has made a qualitative analysis as he’s watched Pierce improve his game dramatically over the last two seasons.

“I mean, he’s got an inside game, an outside game, a tweener game - everything,” Heinsohn said. “He’s beating double-teams, triple-teams. And he’s added a new dimension that’s making it easier: He’s got them guessing. He’s making the passes now. When he’s reading the defense, that helps him. He can get the shots he wants instead of having to force the shots.”

Heinsohn is aware that floating such a grand concept of Pierce will cause him to hear some legendary names in rebuttal, but in that he owns the sixth-best average in team history (18.6) and has the eighth-most rebounds, he’s standing on firm Green ground as he speaks.

“Oh, Larry Bird was a great player,” Heinsohn said. “No one would ever dispute that. But this kid’s going to blow by everybody. I mean, if he plays a significant number of years, he’ll be right up there in career numbers. If we’re talking offense, he can do this stuff every night with this ballclub.
“Bird and Havlicek are up there, and Sam Jones was a great offensive player, too - a great shooter. But he didn’t have the repertoire Paul has. You also have to say the Celtics were doing different things as a team back then. (Bill) Sharman was a great shooter, but a one-dimensional jump shooter behind picks and all that stuff.

“Even Bird, one-on-one, was not as good as this kid. Sam Jones might have been decent one-on-one. Havlicek was a pretty decent one-on-one player. I just think Paul has a chance to be better than all of them when it comes to offense and the total offensive game.”

It’s not like Heinsohn was thinking along these lines a few years ago when Pierce was firing away in Jim O’Brien’s offense and the nice regular-season numbers were lost when New Jersey began throwing extra defenders at him in the postseason. Pierce’s new game can challenge such strategies.

“His ability to pass the ball and read the defense and get other people involved has thwarted any real moves to play defense solely against him,” Heinsohn said.

“And I think he’s having more fun playing the game this way now, which means he’s going to do it more. See, what he’s doing now is playing basketball, not just scoring. And he’s what he wanted to be two years ago, which is a leader. So he’s having the most fun he’s ever had playing basketball right now.”

And now Heinsohn’s having some fun comparing Pierce to the others in the Celtics pantheon.

· Lux Tax Avoider
5,988 Posts
Good find, TB. I'm not sure if this Sports Guy article ever got posted, so I'll add it here.

For diehard Celtics fans like me, Pierce's career season has been simply astounding to watch on a day-to-day basis -- like having a brooding, underachieving teenaged son who suddenly starts shaking everyone's hand, taking out the garbage, cleaning up his room and bringing home A's. I mean, you hope with these things, you keep your fingers crossed, you keep the faith, but you never actually expect it to happen. Had they traded him last summer to Portland for the No. 3 pick and expiring contracts, I would have been delighted. Now? I wouldn't trade him for anyone in the league other than LeBron and Wade. From the very first exhibition game last October, he's been an absolute joy to watch in every respect. I wouldn't change a single thing about him.

Of course, the Celtics fans are buzzing about this metamorphosis, mainly because it's so out of kilter with everything else that seems to happen to this team. The last two decades have been painful, almost a cruel shift of karma from the Russell/Cowens/Bird eras, between Lenny Bias, Reggie Lewis, Dave Gavitt, ML Carr, Dee Brown's knee, Kevin McHale's ankle, Larry Bird's back, the charmless FleetCenter, the Duncan Lottery, the Pitino Disaster, the Antoine Roller-Coaster Ride, the Potapenko trade, the Pierce stabbing, the Johnson-Brown-Forte draft debacle, the indefensible Vin Baker trade, the Mark Blount contract and, finally, Pierce's self-destruction last spring. Since Bird's retirement in 1992, only the overachieving 2002 and 2003 teams advanced past the first round of the playoffs, and that was because of good fortune (and an inferior conference) more than anything. Those teams were like Ellen Barkin in the late-'80s; maybe they got the job done, but you always had trouble watching them.

Faced with the potential of the fifth Rebuilding Era in 15 years, stuck with an unlikable nucleus, an overmatched coach and an unhappy superstar that nobody liked, your typical Celtics fan approached this season with the same expression of a whipped boyfriend heading into a chick flick. And then Pierce showed up with a smile on his face, kept saying all the right things, kept giving everything he had. Around December, I started getting e-mails from season-ticket holders who just wanted to tell me, "I don't care that we're blowing close games, it's been worth the money just to watch Pierce every night." When the Internet started buzzing with rumors that he would be traded, Pierce came out and said, unequivocally, that he didn't want to leave, that he wanted to retire as a Celtic. And he kept on killing himself and carrying his team, night after night.

As the trade deadline approached, other teams kept calling and calling, hoping Danny Ainge would be dumb enough to give up Pierce. Well, why would you trade a star player in his prime who wanted to play for you? What kind of message did that send to your fans? Where was the logic in that? Danny kept saying no. When the rumors kept popping up, he finally went on the record and said, "Look, we're not trading Paul Pierce. It's not happening." Pierce would remain a Celtic.

And every Celtic fan breathed a sigh of relief.
Perhaps he was never really in play, but I still maintain that Pierce would have been well worth Gordon, the Knicks pick, sitting out free agency (by having to take on LaFrentz's contract), etc. If you paired Pierce with a real coach and with our strong, defensive oriented core, I think he's good enough to get you to the Finals out of the east at some point in the next 3-4 years. He might not be good enough to WIN you the Finals, but sometimes weird stuff happens.

· Registered
8,044 Posts
I love how some people thought Pierce was on the decline two years ago.
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