On Friday, the Brooklyn Nets will host the Atlanta Hawks at the Barclays Center. Nets’ small forward Paul Pierce could become the 18th-player to reach the 25,000 point plateau.
Pierce is in the midst of his 16th-season in the NBA. He played his first 15 seasons with the Boston Celtics where he achieved tremendous success.
The Celtics drafted him out of the University of Kansas with the 10th overall pick in the 1998 NBA Draft. He had a very good first season en-route to being named to the 1998-1999 NBA’s All-Rookie Team.
In his first NBA season, he averaged 16.5 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.0 blocks per game. He has only gotten better as his career has progressed.
During his Celtics’ playing career, he averaged 21.8 points, 6.0 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.4 steals and 0.6 blocks per game. He was named to the Eastern Conference All-Star team 10 times and finished inside the top 15 for Most Valuable Player, MVP, voting five times.
There have been many players that have been dominant in the NBA, but none of them had received a nickname like “The Truth.”
In 2001, future Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal, he was then a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, called Pierce “The Truth” after a dominant performance.
On March 13, Pierce scored 42 points on 13-19 shooting from the field in the team’s 112-107 defeat. Succeeding the game, O’Neal pulled aside a Celtics’ reporter in the Lakers’ locker room, according to PaulPierce.net.
Take this down. My name is Shaquille O’Neal, and Paul Pierce is the [expletive] truth. Quote me on that, and don’t take nothing out. I knew he could play, but I didn’t know he could play like this. Paul Pierce is the truth.”
Pierce would have to wait another season before he could dominate like that on the national stage during the playoffs.
In the 2001-2002 regular season, the Celtics had the third-best record in the Eastern Conference; 49-33. This led to Pierce making the playoffs for the first-time in his NBA career.
He helped the Celtics reach the Eastern Conference Finals against the then New Jersey Nets. The Nets had the best record in the Conference that season, 52-30, and were favored to win their matchup against the Celtics.
The Nets defeated the Celtics four games to two, but this did not stop Pierce from putting together a very good performance. He averaged 23.7 points, 8.5 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.3 blocks in that series.
This was the first of 10 playoff appearances for him with the Celtics. He managed to reach two NBA Finals, 2008 and 2010, against the Los Angeles Lakers and win the 2008 NBA Finals.
He finished his playoff career with the Celtics with an average of 20.9 points, 6.4 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.7 blocks in 136 games. His playoff achievements has helped make him, at worst, a borderline future Hall of Famer.
According to basketballreference.com, Pierce has a 97.81 percent, .09781 probability, of making the Naismath Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Among active players, he is ranked behind nearly automatic future Hall of Famers like Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan.
Pierce is also ranked high when compared to active and retired players.
According to basketballreference.com, Pierce has the 46th-highest Hall of Fame probability. Every player listed above and shortly below him that has been eligible for the Hall of Fame has been enshrined already; including Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Jordan.
There is one accomplishment Pierce can achieve before he decides to hang up his jersey.
On Tuesday, Pierce scored 14 points as the Nets swept the season series against the Miami Heat; 88-87. This performance increased his career point total to 24,995.
Pierce could have had an opportunity to reach the 25,000 point plateau on Wednesday, but he missed the game with a hip injury, according to Rotoworld.com.
Paul Pierce (hip) won’t be joining the 25,000 point club on Wednesday, as he’s not expected to play for the Nets. Shaun Livingston is also out with a big toe injury and Mirza Teletovic and Alan Anderson will start in their place tonight. And with Livingston out of the way, Marcus Thornton could also have a big night, although he’s a total roll of the dice from game to game. Apr 9 – 5:36 PM Source: Stefan Bondy on Twitter
Paul Pierce (hip) is expected to return for Friday’s game against the Hawks Pierce and the rest of the Nets’ elderly players will go through warmups before any final decision is made, but it’s looking like Shaun Livingston (toe) is the only one that will sit out. It suggests that Pierce’s hip is feeling near 100 percent as he wouldn’t be risking anything this close to the playoffs. Apr 11 – 10:39 AM Source: Tim Bontemps on Twitter
With five points on Friday, Pierce would be able to join an elite group of players.
Despite the numerous players who have been terrific scoring options in their respective careers, only 17 NBA players have reached the 25,000 point plateau. This list includes players like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone and Jordan.
Every player on that list that has been eligible for the Hall of Fame has already been enshrined. It is unknown if this will be the last season Pierce will be playing in the NBA.
Pierce has had a phenomenal career that should land him in Springfield, Mass., the site of the Hall of Fame, when he decides to retire. On Friday, NBA fans could be witnessing one of the last ‘major’ accomplishments in Pierce’s career before he retires.