Sick of arguing with your friends about who is the best player in the NBA? Leading into the ’13-14 NBA Season, Ball So Hard will be putting an end to the debate. Here is the decisive list of the 50 best NBA players.
Note: predictions are for the up coming season and rank players on how they will perform in the ’13-14 season.
No. 38, Paul Pierce
Paul Pierce was supposed to end his career as a Boston Celtic. Everybody knew that. The Truth was one of the few players no one could imagine wearing another uniform. Most of us had already written the final scene to Pierce’s fairy tale career. You could already picture a teary-eyed Pierce kissing the Celtic logo that he had worn over his heart for the best part of two decades as he ran onto the TD Garden court for the final time. The crowd would erupt, a storied career would come full circle, the world would be a better place.
However, on draft night 2013, the final chapter to the story of Pierce’s career took an impossible unexpected twist. Paul Pierce was traded to the Brooklyn Nets.
The Internet went into meltdown, as NBA fans around the world tried to wrap their heads around a scenario no one imagined would ever eventuate.
How could the Celtics trade Paul Pierce, a player whose career is entrenched in Celtic folklore and embedded in Boston record books, how?
Pierce sits in the Boston record books with the all-time greats like Larry Bird, Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, John Havlicek, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish.
P-Double ranks first in Celtic history for; most points in a single game (50), most points scored in a half in both the regular season (46) and playoffs (32), most career three-point field goals made (1578), most career free throws made (5808), most steals in one game (9), and a embarrassment of other categories.
He is second in; career points (22,591), career average points (22.2), third in; minutes played (35,714), fourth in games played (964) and top 10 in; assists (3661), rebounds (5847) and three-point percentage (36.9%).
So the disbelief from basketball fans worldwide that the ever-present union of Pierce and Boston has ended is understandable.
Seeing Pierce in a new uniform is like a child trying to comprehend what it means when their first pet dies – it is a foreign an uncomfortable experience.
However, just as children come to understand the circle of life and soon love their next pet, NBA fans will come to understand and embrace Pierce as a Nets player.
Never blessed with exceptional athleticism or quickness, Pierce has tormented defences throughout his career with his elite footwork and understanding of the game, which allows him to release his deadly jumpshot or sneak into the lane for the hoop or the harm.
What has always been Pierce’s defining quality is his ability to perform in the clutch. He never fit the physical mould of an elite athlete, but his penchant for late-game heroics elevated him into the elite category of NBA players.
What Pierce lacks in physical dominance he makes up for with sheer grit and determination, frequently going head-to-head with the best in the league and more than holding his own.
Pierce will turn 36 during the 2013-14 NBA season, and is no longer the leading player he was in his prime.
However, the Nets are one of the deepest (and expensive!) teams in the league this season, and there will be plenty of time for Pierce to rest and recuperate when he needs it. Last season, Pierce did go through a form slump midway through the year, but he finished the year strong, shooting season highs from the floor. The Nets’ ability to manage Pierce’s numbers will be imperative to ensuring he can be effective all season.
The Nets didn’t recruit Pierce because he is a 10-time All-Star, they recruited him because he is an NBA Champion and Finals MVP.
Look for Brooklyn to ease Pierce through the regular season, in a similar fashion to Tim Duncan in San Antonio, and then unleash him on the playoffs.
Maybe, Paul Pierce was never meant to end his career as a Celtic. While it would fulfil the fairy tale to see him retire in Celtic green, Boston is entering a transition phase and it would be sad to see a player of Pierce’s caliber spending his last few years on a struggling team. Everybody remembers how painful it was to see Michael Jordan flounder away for those horrible Washington teams. Perhaps it is more fitting that Pierce – a player whose career has be defined by his never-say-die attitude and game-winning propensities – to finish his career chasing another title.
Maybe, Black is the new Green.