Pierce attending his Celtics jersey retirement ceremony in February 2018.
|Born:||October 13, 1977|
|Listed height:||6 ft 7 (201 cm)|
|Listed weight:||235 lbs (107 kg)|
|National Basketball Association career|
|Debut: 1998 for the Boston Celtics|
|Final game: 2017 for the Los Angeles Clippers|
|NBA Draft:||1998 / Round: 1 / Pick: 10th|
|2015–2017||Los Angeles Clippers|
|Career highlights and awards|
Paul Anthony Pierce (born October 13, 1977), nicknamed "The Truth", is an American retired professional basketball player who played for 19 seasons of the National Basketball Association (NBA), predominantly with the Boston Celtics. He was most recently 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 Finals and a championship in 2008. Pierce was named NBA Finals Most Valuable Player. 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 was the star of Inglewood High School's basketball team during his junior and senior years. He also participated 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 with the Lakers.
On January 31, 2012, Pierce was honored as one of the 35 Greatest McDonald's All-Americans.
Pierce averaged 16.4 points and 6.3 rebounds per game in his three seasons at the University of Kansas, where he majored in Crime and Delinquency Studies, and earned MVP honors in the Big 12 Conference Tournament in both 1997 and 1998. Pierce played for Hall of Fame coach Roy Williams at Kansas. One of his teammates was future Orlando Magic coach Jacque Vaughn. He entered the NBA Draft after his junior year and was selected with the 10th overall pick in the first round of the 1998 NBA Draft by the Boston Celtics.
Boston Celtics (1998–2013)
After his NBA debut, Pierce's ability to score, rebound, and play defense, and a healthy dose of late-game heroics led to his emergence as a top player in the Eastern Conference. Along with forward Antoine Walker, Pierce led the Celtics to the playoffs in 2002 for the first time in seven years and on to the Eastern Conference Finals. In the historic Game 3 of that series, he led the Celtics to one of the biggest fourth-quarter comebacks in NBA playoff history. Pierce scored 19 of his 28 point total during the fourth quarter, and the Celtics recovered from a 21-point fourth-quarter deficit to defeat the New Jersey Nets.
Trade rumors involving Pierce swirled when Danny Ainge returned as the Executive Director of Basketball Operations in May 2003. Ainge laid most of these rumors to rest in the 2006 off-season by signing Pierce to a 3-year, $59 million contract extension.
Injury and missing playoffs
In the 2005-06 NBA season, Pierce had the highest points-per-shot average among the top 30 scorers in the league, indicating that he is an efficient and consistent player. On March 8, 2006, Pierce extended his franchise-record streak of 30-point games at 8. On March 7, he scored seven points in overtime to beat the Washington Wizards on a "buzzer beater", and the next night the Celtics eked out a victory against Philadelphia on the strength of two late-game improbable shots by Pierce, one a three-pointer, the other an off-balance "buzzer beater" for the win. He scored at least 30 points for the 13th time in 14 games (between February 4 and March 12), the best such stretch in Celtics history.
He followed up this stellar season with an injury-riddled 2006–07 campaign that saw him miss the first significant stretch of games in his career, due to a stress reaction in his foot. In spite of this injury, he still managed to put up his usual stellar numbers in the 47 games in which he saw action. But the Celtics, during that season, would have an 18-game losing streak and one of the worst seasons in franchise history, going 24–58.
NBA Championships as three-peat
Prior to the 2007–08 season, he expressed great excitement at the Celtics' acquisitions of fellow All-Stars Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett, and at the chance to contend for a championship. He slimmed down to his college weight of 235 lbs and vowed to pay more attention to defense, as he would not have to carry the offense anymore.
Prior to the 2007–08 season, he expressed great excitement at the Celtics' acquisitions of fellow All-Stars Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett, and at the chance to contend for a championship. He slimmed down to his college weight of 235 lbs (107 kg; 16.8 st) and vowed to pay more attention to defense, as he would not have to carry the offense anymore.
On April 28, 2008, Pierce was fined $25,000 by the NBA for an alleged menacing gesture after falling to the ground and being taunted by Al Horford in Game 3 of the first round in the 2008 Playoffs against the Atlanta Hawks on April 26, 2008. Sources claimed this gesture was a gang-related hand sign, but Danny Ainge, general manager of the Celtics, stated that Pierce has been repeatedly doing it before and that it was not gang-related, but rather a symbol used within the team. Pierce himself denied it, adding that his foundation was committed to helping urban youth keep away from gangs.
On May 18, 2008, Pierce recorded the second-highest point total in franchise history in a Game 7 with 41 points against the Cleveland Cavaliers, as the Celtics advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals. On June 5, 2008, in Game 1 of the 2008 NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers, Pierce was injured in the third quarter and was carried off the court in serious pain. However, he came back to the court only a few minutes later to spark the Celtics with 15 points in the third quarter en route to a 98–88 victory. He went on to lead the Celtics to their 17th championship after defeating the Los Angeles Lakers four games to two. Pierce was named the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player after the Celtics' 131–92 victory in Game 6 on June 17, 2008.
Not long after winning the championship, Pierce was asked, "Is Kobe Bryant really the best player in the world?" Pierce responded by saying, "I don't think Kobe is the best player. I'm the best player. There's a line that separates having confidence and being conceited. I don't cross that line but I have a lot of confidence in myself." The quote drew minor controversy.
Coming up short
Pierce and the Celtics looked to repeat as world champions during the 2008-09 NBA season. Pierce missed only one game the entire season and led the team in scoring. He was named to the 2009 NBA All-Star Game and for the first time to the All-NBA Team Second Team. Despite Pierce's success, with Kevin Garnett hurt the Celtics lost in the second round of the 2009 NBA Playoffs.
At the 2010 NBA All-Star Game at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, Pierce became the first Celtic since Larry Bird to win the Three-Point Shootout.
In Game 3 of the first round between the Celtics and Miami Heat in the 2010 NBA Playoffs, Pierce hit a 21-foot jumper at the buzzer to beat Miami 100–98, and give the Celtics a 3–0 series lead. The Celtics went on to win that series, and also defeated the heavily favored Cavaliers in the second round in six games. They faced the heavily favored Orlando Magic (the runner-ups of the previous year's Finals) in the Eastern Conference Finals, and beat them in also six games to advance to their second Finals appearance in the Big 3 era. They faced off against the defending champion Lakers in a rematch of the 2008 NBA Finals, and took a 3-2 lead heading back to Los Angeles. However, in part due to the loss of injured center Kendrick Perkins, the Celtics were blown out in Game 6 and lost a 13 point second half lead in Game 7, losing the deciding game 83-79. On June 29, 2010, Pierce opted out of his contract and triggered his early termination contract to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2010. However, on July 2, Pierce and the Celtics verbally agreed to a four-year extension keeping him in Boston through the 2013–14 season.
On November 3, 2010, during a game against the Milwaukee Bucks, Pierce scored his 20,000th career point on a free throw, becoming the third person in Celtics history to reach that milestone solely in a Celtics uniform. The Celtics finished the season with the number 3 seed in the Eastern Conference and swept the New York Knicks in the first round of the playoffs. In the second round, the Celtics took on the Miami Heat and their big three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh. The Celtics lost to Miami, who eventually moved on to the NBA Finals, in five games.
On February 7, 2012, during a game against the Charlotte Bobcats, Pierce scored fifteen points to pass Larry Bird for second place on the Boston Celtics' all-time scoring list. He was named to his tenth NBA All-Star appearance on February 9, 2012. He then played his 1,000th career game with the Celtics on March 9, 2012 against the Portland Trail Blazers; only Pierce, John Havlicek, and Robert Parish have played in over 1,000 career games for the Celtics. For the 2011-12 season Pierce averaged 19.4 points, 4.5 assists, and 5.2 rebounds per game as the Celtics finished the season 39-27.
In the playoffs, the Celtics would beat the Hawks in six games in the first round, as Pierce averaged 21.2 points per game during the series. In the conference semifinals the Celtics faced the Philadelphia 76ers led by Doug Collins. They pushed the Celtics into a full seven game series, but the Celtics won the final game 85-75. The Celtics then played the Miami Heat in the conference finals. Pierce hit a crucial 3-pointer over LeBron James in Game 5 to take a series lead of 3-2, but the Celtics lost the last two games to the eventual champion.
The 2012–13 season did not go well as planned for Celtics, with All-Star Point Guard Rajon Rondo out with a torn ACL injury. However the Celtics managed to clinch the 7th seed in the playoffs with a 41-40 season record (with one game not played because of the Boston Marathon bombings). The Celtics lost to the New York Knicks in the 1st round in six games. Pierce averaged 19.2 points per game in the playoff series loss.
Brooklyn Nets (2013–2014)
On June 28, 2013, the day of the NBA Draft, the Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets reached a deal to trade Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Jason Terry for future first-round picks in the 2014, 2016, and 2018 Drafts and Kris Humphries, Gerald Wallace, Kris Joseph, MarShon Brooks, and Keith Bogans. The deal was completed on July 12, 2013. Brooklyn also received D. J. White. Pierce convinced Garnett to waive his no-trade clause so that the deal could come to fruition. The Celtics took out a full-page advertisement in the Boston Globe thanking Pierce and Garnett for their contributions to the team. At an introductory press conference with Garnett and Terry following the trade, Pierce stated, "We are championship driven... We made a lot of money in our careers. We have won a number of awards. At this point right now, we are about winning a championship. Brooklyn gives us the best opportunity."
In 2013–14, Pierce appeared in 75 games (including 68 starts), averaging 13.5 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 2.4 assists in 28.0 minutes. He scored 1,000 points for the 15th straight season, becoming the only active NBA player and the sixth player in NBA history (along with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, John Havlicek, Elvin Hayes, Robert Parish) to score 1,000 points in 15 straight seasons. He passed Allen Iverson and Patrick Ewing on the NBA's all-time scoring list (moving up to 18th in NBA history), moved into fifth place in all-time NBA history with 1,935 career three-pointers made, and had his most steals (86) in a season since 2007–08. On April 11, 2014 against Atlanta, Pierce became the fourth active player (along with Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki and Garnett) and the 18th player in NBA history to score 25,000 career points.
Prior to the season, the Nets were thought to be contenders to win the Eastern Conference. Pierce and Garnett were set to be the supporting cast to Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, and Brook Lopez. After scraping past the Toronto Raptors in the first round of the playoffs thanks to a last-second block from Pierce in Game 7, their attempt to get past the Heat and win a championship fell short. They lost to the two-time defending champion and eventual Eastern Conference champion Miami in five games in the second round.
Washington Wizards (2014–2015)
On July 17, 2014, Pierce signed with the Washington Wizards. With 14 points against the Atlanta Hawks on November 25, 2014, Pierce passed Jerry West for 17th place on the NBA's career scoring list. Two weeks later, Pierce passed Reggie Miller for 16th place on the NBA's career scoring list with a season-high 28 points against the Boston Celtics. On January 14, 2015, Pierce passed Jason Kidd for fourth all-time in three-pointers made in a 105–99 win over the Chicago Bulls. Eleven days later, he recorded his 2,000th career three-pointer in a 117–115 overtime win over the Denver Nuggets. On February 2, 2015, he passed Alex English for 15th place on the NBA's career scoring list with 11 points against the Charlotte Hornets. Pierce finished the regular season averaging 11.9 points per game, a career low.
On May 9, 2015, Pierce made a two-point shot with three defenders on him at the buzzer to defeat the Atlanta Hawks 103–101 and take a 2–1 series lead in the Eastern Conference semi-finals. He finished the game with 13 points and 7 rebounds. In Game 6 of the series on May 15, the Wizards were down 94–91 with seconds remaining when Pierce launched a three-pointer, hoping to extend the Wizards' season by forcing overtime. The shot swished, apparently tying the score at the buzzer, but the play was reviewed, showing the clock expired before Pierce released the basketball.
On June 27, 2015, Pierce opted out of the second year of his contract with the Wizards to become a free agent.
Los Angeles Clippers (2015–2017)
On July 10, 2015, Pierce signed a three-year, $10 million contract with the Los Angeles Clippers. He made his debut for the Clippers in the team's season opener against the Sacramento Kings on October 28, recording 12 points and 7 rebounds off the bench in a 111–104 win. With Lance Stephenson starting at Small Forward, Pierce began the season as a role player off the bench for the first time in his career. On December 16, Pierce scored six points against the Milwaukee Bucks. In the game, he hit a buzzer beater to end the first quarter and became the fifth active player and 16th in NBA history to reach 26,000 points
On September 26, 2016, Pierce announced that the 2016–17 season would be his last year in the NBA. He did not appear for the Clippers in their first 12 games of the season, as they compiled a 10–2 record in that time. On November 18, 2016, he made his season debut, scoring six points in nine minutes off the bench in a 121–115 win over the Sacramento Kings. On April 30, 2017 the Clipprers went on to lose their first-round playoff series to the Utah Jazz in seven, as Pierce's 19-year NBA career came to an end at the final buzzer of Game 7 on April 30, 2017. In his final game, he had six points and three rebounds in 21 minutes, and averaged 11.1 minutes in the series. On June 28, 2017, he was waived by the Clippers.
Retiring with the Celtics (2017)
On July 17, 2017, Pierce signed a ceremonial contract with the Boston Celtics in order to retire with the team. On August 18, 2017, the Celtics announced Pierce's jersey would be retired on February 11, 2018. His jersey was raised to the rafters of TD Garden in a postgame ceremony following the Celtics-Cavaliers game, as he became the 23rd person in Celtics history to be honored.
Pierce was a member of the United States national team for the 2002 FIBA World Championship, starting all nine games and averaging 19.8 ppg. Pierce was also selected for the United States National Basketball team for the 2006 FIBA World Championship, but did not compete because of minor off-season surgery.
In August 2017, Pierce joined ESPN as a studio analyst for The Jump and NBA Countdown, after he previously appeared as a guest analyst during the 2016 and 2017 NBA Finals for NBA Countdown. His tenure with ESPN was inconsistent despite much fanfare. His role at the network was reduced in 2019 due to questions about his preparation for NBA segments and game predictions.
Pierce was fired by ESPN after streaming from his Instagram Live on April 2, 2021. During the livestream at a poker game, he featured several women wearing bikinis who were massaging his shoulders or twerking. Pierce also showcased himself drinking alcohol from a small cup and smoking a blunt while responding to fan messages. ESPN ended its relationship with Pierce on April 5, 2021 and had no further comment on the firing. Pierce later responded to news of his firing with a Twitter video of him laughing while also tweeting that "Big things are coming soon" and "I can't lose even when I lose I'm winning".
Pierce and his ex-wife Julie (née Landrum) have three children; two daughters, Prianna and Adrian, and a son, Prince.
On September 25, 2000, Pierce was stabbed 11 times in the face, neck, and back and had a bottle smashed over his head while at the Buzz Club, a late night dance club in the Boston Theater District. He had to undergo lung surgery to repair the damage. Nevertheless, Pierce was the only Celtic to start all 82 games in the 2000–01 season. Also, witnesses say that Pierce was attempting to separate the fighters when he was stabbed. Tony Battie, Pierce's teammate at the time, along with Battie's brother, saved him by rushing him to a nearby hospital. In 2003, two and a half years after the attack, Pierce pledged $2.5 million to help expand the high-tech surgical center at Tufts-New England Medical Center that helped make his recovery possible. Pierce stated, "This is an opportunity for me to give back to the hospital that was there for me when I needed it."
In August 2018, Pierce discussed battling depression for a year after his stabbing, revealing that he dealt with paranoia over crowds and post-traumatic stress stemming from the incident. He divulged this information as part of the NBA's initiative to focus on the mental health of its players.
His nickname, "The Truth", was accorded to him by Shaquille O'Neal after a 112-107 Lakers' victory over the Celtics on March 13, 2001 in which Pierce scored 42 points on 13 of 19 shooting. O'Neal pulled Boston Herald reporter Steve Bulpett over and gestured toward his notepad. "Take this down", said O'Neal. "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."
NBA career statistics
|GP||Games played||GS||Games started||MPG||Minutes per game|
|FG%||Field-goal percentage||3P%||3-point field-goal percentage||FT%||Free-throw percentage|
|RPG||Rebounds per game||APG||Assists per game||SPG||Steals per game|
|BPG||Blocks per game||PPG||Points per game||Bold||Career high|
- NBA champion: 2008
- NBA Finals MVP: 2008
- All-NBA Second Team: 2009
- 3-time All-NBA Third Team: 2002, 2003, 2008
- 10-time NBA All-Star: 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012
- NBA All-Rookie First Team: 1999
- NBA 3-Point Contest winner: 2010
- NBA regular-season leader, total points: 2002 (2144)
- NBA regular-season leader, free throws made: 2003 (604)
- NBA 75th Anniversary Team: 2021
- Named First Team All-America by the Associated Press after his junior year at the University of Kansas.
- Named Big Eight Freshman of the Year in 1995–96.
- MVP of the Big 12 Conference Tournament in both 1997 and 1998.
- Member of the All-Big 12 First Team in 1997–1998.
- Member of the US national team in the 2002 FIBA World Championship.
- Member of the 2006 USA Basketball World Championship Team (Did not play due to an elbow injury).
- Home Team Community Service Award (2002)
- Named to Kansas Sports Hall of Fame in 2018
Boston Celtics franchise records
- Most points scored in a half (including Overtime): 46 (December 1, 2001 2nd Half vs. New Jersey Nets).
- Most points scored in an overtime period: 13 (December 1, 2001 vs. New Jersey Nets)
- Most three-point field goals made, career: 1578
- Most three-point field goals attempted, career: 4273
- Most free throws made, career: 5808
- Most free throws attempted, career: 7212
- Most free throws made in one game: 20 (November 2, 2002 vs. New York Knicks).
- Most free throws attempted in one game: 24 (November 5, 2005 vs. New York Knicks).
- Most free throws made in one half: 14 (March 2, 2001 vs. Utah Jazz).
- Most free throws made in one season: 627 (2005–06, breaking his own record of 604 set in 2002–03).
- Most free throws attempted in one season: 812 (2005–06, breaking his own record of 753 set in 2002–03).
- Most steals in one game: 9 (tied with Larry Bird; December 3, 1999 vs. Miami Heat).
- Most free throws made without a miss, playoffs: 21 (Game 1, 2003 Eastern Conference First Round).
- Most points scored in one half, playoffs: 32 (Game 4, 2003 Eastern Conference First Round vs. Indiana Pacers).
- Highest scoring average through one month: 33.5 PPG (February 2006).
- Only Celtics player in franchise history to lead the NBA in total points scored in a season, scoring 2,144 points in 2001–02.
- Oldest Celtics player to score 40 points in a game: 35 years, 2 months, and 6 days old (December 19, 2012 vs Cleveland Cavaliers)
- Pierce is the Celtics' second all-time leading scorer behind John Havlicek. He also ranks second in team history in career scoring average, behind Larry Bird.
|Boston Celtics 2007–08 season roster|
|5 Gаrnett • 9 Rondo • 11 Davis • 13 Pruitt • 20 R. Allen • 28 Cassell • 34 Pierce • 41 Posey • 42 T. Allen • 43 Perkins • 44 Scalabrine • 50 House • 66 Pollard • 93 Brown • 0 Powe|
|Players who left during the season|
|Head coach: Doc Rivers|
|Regular Season • Playoffs • Finals|
|Boston Celtics 2008–09 season roster|
|4 Giddens • 5 Gаrnett • 8 Marbury • 9 Rondo • 11 Davis • 12 Moore • 13 Pruitt • 20 R. Allen • 34 Pierce • 42 T. Allen • 43 Perkins • 44 Scalabrine • 50 House • 66 Pollard • 0 Powe|
|Players who left during the season|
|Head coach: Doc Rivers|
|Regular Season • Playoffs • Finals|
|Boston Celtics 2009–10 season roster|
|4 Giddens • 5 Gаrnett • 9 Rondo • 11 Davis • 20 R. Allen • 30 Wallace • 34 Pierce • 40 Finley • 42 T. Allen • 43 Perkins • 44 Scalabrine • 52 Daniels • 60 Hudson • 84 Robinson • 94 Williams|
|Players who left during the season|
|Head coach: Doc Rivers|
|Regular Season • Playoffs • Finals|