“The first thing I told all these guys on the team was it’s going to be a pleasure to watch (Paul Pierce) every night. I’ve had the pleasure of having a front-row view. I’ve always called him Picasso. He’s like a beautiful painting. I get to watch him every night.”
That was high praise bestowed upon Pierce by his teammate of six seasons with the Boston Celtics and this season with the Brooklyn Nets, Kevin Garnett. When a former NBA MVP, 15-time All Star and certain Hall of Fame inductee upon eligibility heaps that type of accolades on you, it makes an impression.
Garnett was not the only Nets player to offer praise. Brook Lopez, one of many new teammates for Pierce, was amazed as well. “He did everything. He scored, got assists, (he) was a playmaker…his presence, energy, and confidence, huge for us. It’s contagious.” It was his play that helped the Nets franchise end a 13-game losing streak to the Miami Heat. LeBron James tipped his hat to Pierce after the game. “Double P hit some big shots” the four-time NBA MVP said.
What makes Paul Piece, who turned 36 last month, so special? He has been one of the best closers in the game for the better part of the last decade, and he has an NBA Finals MVP Award to prove it, when he outdueled another of the game’s best closers, Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers, to lead the Celtics to the 2008 NBA Championship.
With a career scoring average of 21.8 points, Pierce has averaged as many as 26.8 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 5.1 assists as career highs, showing that he has the ability not only to score, but to do anything needed of him on the offensive end of the floor. Though he has never been viewed as an elite defender, Pierce showed his ability to defend at a high level during The Big Three Era with the Celtics, one of the top NBA defensive teams for their six seasons together.
Will Pierce have the same success with the Brooklyn Nets? Only time will tell, but as Nets, Heat, and NBA fans alike witnessed Friday night at Barclays Center on a nationally televised game on ESPN in front of a star-studded crowd that included Magic Johnson, Chris Rock, David Beckham and many more, Picasso is able to make big plays when it matters most. Not only did he score 17 second-half points, but he also had a huge block of a LeBron James layup attempt in the final minutes of the Nets one-point victory over the South Beach bunch.
This season, opponents of the Nets must fear the sight of Paul Pierce with the ball in his hands in the final moments of any game, and that should thrill Nets fans. Hopefully for the Brooklyn faithful, opponents are seeing that frightening vision deep into the 2014 NBA Playoffs, and, perhaps the NBA Finals, where Pierce can repeat his heroics from 2008.