Paul Anthony Pierce (born October 13, 1977) will in inducted in the 2021 NBA Hall of Fame.
A former professional basketball player who played 19 seasons in the National Basketball Association (NBA), predominantly with the Boston Celtics. He is currently an analyst on ESPN’s basketball programs The Jump and NBA Countdown.
Pierce was a high school McDonald’s All-American and earned consensus first-team All-America honors in his junior year at Kansas. After being chosen by the Boston Celtics with the 10th overall pick in the 1998 NBA draft, Pierce spent the first 15 years of his career with Boston. Pierce’s nickname, “the Truth”, was given to him by Shaquille O’Neal in March 2001. He starred as captain of the Celtics, earning 10 All-Star selections and becoming a four-time All-NBA team member. Pierce combined with Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen in 2007 to form a “Big Three” that led Boston to two NBA Finals and an NBA championship in 2008. Pierce was named NBA Finals Most Valuable Player in 2008. Along with Larry Bird and John Havlicek, Pierce is one of only three players to have scored more than 20,000 career points with the Celtics.
In July 2013, Pierce was traded to the Brooklyn Nets along with teammates Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry. He signed with the Washington Wizards as a free agent in 2014. After one season with the Wizards, Pierce signed with the Los Angeles Clippers, reuniting him with former Celtics head coach Doc Rivers. He spent two seasons with the Clippers before retiring in 2017. On July 17, 2017, the Celtics signed Pierce to a contract, enabling him to retire as a member of the organization with which he spent his first 15 NBA seasons.
Pierce was born and raised in Oakland, California. His family later moved to Inglewood, California, where he attended Inglewood High School. He was cut from Inglewood High’s varsity basketball team his freshman and sophomore years, and seriously thought about transferring before spending extra time in the gym and becoming the star of the team by the end of his junior year. In his senior year he averaged 27 points, 11 rebounds and 4 assists per game Pierce went on to participate in the 1995 McDonald’s All-American Game alongside future NBA stars Kevin Garnett, Vince Carter, Stephon Marbury, and Antawn Jamison, and was a contestant in the game’s Slam Dunk Contest, which was won by Carter. He grew up a Los Angeles Lakers fan and dreamed of playing for the team.
In 2012, Pierce was honored as one of the 35 Greatest McDonald’s All-Americans.
Pierce spent three years at Kansas between 1995 and 1998. He earned honorable mention All-Big Eight honors and was selected second team Freshman All-American by Basketball Weekly. He was also honored as the Big Eight Co-Freshman of the Year with Colorado’s Chauncey Billups. During summer of 1996, Pierce earned a spot on the roster of the USA’s Under 22 team and helped USA go unbeaten in the World Championship-qualifying tournament in Puerto Rico. As a sophomore, Pierce captured the first of two Big 12 Conference Tournament Most Valuable Player awards after averaging 21.7 points and guiding Kansas to the inaugural tournament championship.
As a junior in 1997–98, Pierce won Most Valuable Player honors in both the Preseason NIT and the Big 12 Conference Tournament. He was selected First Team All-Big 12 Conference by both the AP and Coaches, and was named Associated Press First Team All-American and a finalist for the 1998 John Wooden and Naismith awards. He scored 777 points as a junior—the fifth-most single-season point total in Jayhawks history. He ranks as the fifth-leading scorer in Kansas history (1,786 points) and 11th on the all-time rebounds list (676).
Pierce left the University of Kansas following his junior season and entered the 1998 NBA draft.
Boston Celtics (1998–2013)
Pierce was selected with the 10th overall pick in 1998 NBA draft by the Boston Celtics, a team he despised growing up. A starter from the get-go, he scored 19 or more points in 10 of his first 11 contests, and was on his way to being one of the best young players in the game. For the year, he averaged 16.5 points and finished third in the voting for Rookie of the Year honors. In his second season, he raised his scoring average to 19.5 points per game, and was turning into one of the elite offensive players in the NBA. By his third season in the league, Pierce was ready for a breakout year. In the 2000–01 season, Pierce appeared in 82 games (all starts), averaging 25.3 points, 6.4 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.68 steals in 38.0 minutes. He led the Celtics and finished eighth in the league in points per game, fourth in total points (2,071). He was named NBA Player of the Month for March 2001 after averaging 30.3 points, 7.2 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.60 steals for the month.