Paul Pierce’s outspokenness on ESPN has rubbed some people the wrong way in the past couple years, leading to unwarranted criticism from those who clearly didn’t pay much attention to his career.
As it turns out, there are a lot of casual basketball “fans” out there who are either too young to remember how great Pierce was before the Big Three era, or they’re still bitter about the way he routinely abused their favorite team in the fourth quarter for 19 seasons. Those people will tell you that he can’t hold a candle to the all-time greats like Kobe and LeBron, when the fact of the matter is that he was among their toughest competition.
He got his nickname “The Truth” when he put up 42 points on Shaq and Kobe’s Lakers at age 23. At age 24, he dragged Antoine Walker and a team of scrubs to the Eastern Conference Finals, and scored 19 points in the 4th quarter of the greatest comeback in NBA playoff history. Four years later, he dropped 50 on LeBron. Two years after that, he dropped 41 on LeBron in a Game 7 and then beat Kobe in the Finals. And those are just some of the moments that stand out the most, but for Celtics fans who followed the team throughout his career, we know that hitting big shots was a regular occurrence for 34. It was no different than what we became accustomed to with David Ortiz and Tom Brady. Clutch was in his DNA, and after a while you began to expect it.
That’s why it comes as no surprise that Paul Pierce is numerically the greatest of all-time in regards to winning a game on the last shot. Here are the players who have contributed to the most walk-off buzzer beaters in NBA history:
- Paul Pierce: 12 (Seven baskets, five assists)
- Michael Jordan: 10 (Nine baskets, one assist)
- Kobe Bryant: 8 (Eight baskets)
This isn’t about who has the most rings, the most MVP’s, or the highest scoring average. This is about who you would rather have with the ball in their hands in the final possession with the game on the line.
I’m not saying that Paul Pierce is definitely more clutch than Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant, I’m just saying that he might be. To deny that it’s a debatable topic is to ignore the facts. Credit to Hoops Hype for bringing this stat to light so we have one more piece of evidence to point to when debating The Truth’s greatness.