BOSTON — Paul Pierce made a ton of clutch shots in his NBA career, including several game winners, but none of them are a part of Danny Ainge’s most memorable moment in No. 34’s time with the Boston Celtics.
Ainge, the C’s president of basketball operations, was one of several people to speak during Pierce’s number retirement ceremony Sunday at TD Garden after the Celtics lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
He said he’s been asked recently what’s his favorite Pierce moment from his Celtics career, and his response was a jump ball from Boston’s Game 7 win in the 2008 Eastern Conference semifinals against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Pierce outmuscled LeBron James and dove on the floor to secure possession for the Celtics. It was a great display of the toughness and drive for winning that Pierce showed his entire career.
“Scoring was something I did great, but I think a lot of the little things I did went unnoticed,” Pierce said after his ceremony when asked about this jump ball play.
“I considered myself an all-around player. It’s just that I had some scoring outbursts that overshadowed all of the little things that I did. There would be nights I didn’t score and I would just pass the ball, which I thought was pretty underrated. To get recognized that one of (my) biggest plays was a hustle play, that says a lot. That just shows you I was more than just a scorer.
“I did other things to try to help the ballclub win. I was willing to sacrifice. It got to the point where I didn’t care much about scoring. I knew I could score, but I had other guys around me, I could show other parts of my game. Other parts of my game started showing when I got other talents around me. The pressure wasn’t on me to score and it just showed that I was a better all-around player than what was perceived at first.”
The Celtics, after that Game 7 win, went on to beat the Detroit Pistons in the Eastern Conference finals and then defeat the Los Angeles Lakers in six games in the 2008 NBA Finals. Banner 17 doesn’t happen without Pierce scoring 41 points against James and diving on the floor for that loose ball in Game 7.
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports
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