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Paul Pierce
Paul Pierce
Position: -
Born: 10/13/77
Height: 6-7 / 2.01
Weight:229 lbs. / 104.3 kg.
Earnings: $200,708,312 ($956,013*)
Suddenly for Pierce, it was all about defense. With Garnett barking at everyone all day and new defensive coordinator Tom Thibodeau setting a high defensive standard, Pierce was going around making sure everyone was on point. “He started holding everyone accountable — like, everybody accountable — and he became a big-time leader on the defensive end of the floor,” longtime teammate Brian Scalabrine says. “He called guys out who would forget their assignments, and we had a culture that you had to know your assignments. You could not — it wasn’t a part of our culture for us to forget defensive assignments. That was a big part of what we did.”
But the turning point of his career came in those practice runs. After a training camp in Rome established Boston’s “Ubuntu” mission and a hot start out the gate that year, Pierce set up those G-Unit runs to keep them on their toes and to continue pushing. Pierce was on his way out the door in Boston a year earlier. Now “The Truth” was trying to drive the culture every day. “That never happened with P before. He was not doing that. He was not engaged like that,” says Powe. “But it all changed when KG got there, and that moment when he set up those runs was crazy. That’s what I think he was all about. He was all about winning and being competitive.”
Lillard had his favorites — Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Allen Iverson — but it was Iverson whom he held in the highest regard. “I was imitating Iverson because he was small, and he had that neighborhood energy,” Lillard said. “Everybody in my neighborhood loved A.I. So, it was like — a thing. Everybody wore Iversons.”
The Celtics-Bulls rivalry had exploded in 2009, when the Bulls took the defending champions — missing Garnett due to injury — the distance in an epic first-round series. Noah punctuated Chicago’s Game 6 win with a steal and coast-to-coast dunk on Paul Pierce, one of the iconic moments of his career. “I dunked it on Pierce’s neck,” Noah says. Noah’s energy and chatter annoyed the Celtics, and the animosity became mutual. “I don’t talk to that guy,” Noah says of Pierce. “I hated him,” says Thibodeau, then an assistant with Boston.