Jackie MacMullen has a very nice article on Paul Pierce's long road to greatness.
He is not a tidy superstar. You cannot neatly wrap the career of Boston Celtics captain Paul Pierce, the newly minted NBA Finals Most Valuable Player and first-time champion, in a perfectly symmetrical box with a corresponding matching ribbon.
His path to greatness has been far too gnarly for that.
"You're right," he said, still gleefully gripping his championship hat in the wee hours Wednesday morning. "Life has so many hurdles. Some of them I've hopped over, and some of them I've tripped over. The key is to get back up and finish the race."
Paul said it perfectly here. This is, in a nutshell, who he is. He's been knocked down so many times. He's tripped and fell so many times. He's been bruised, battered, and (literally) stabbed many times. Every time he pushed himself back up. He stood up, stared back at the world, and spat back, "Is that the best you've got? Bring it!"
Team USA turned their back on Paul Pierce and picked Joe Johnson to fill his role. No matter, Pierce beat JJ in the first round. LeBron is everyone's Next Great Thing. Pierce went toe to toe with him, matched him point for point, and sent him home in the 2nd round. Kobe Bryant entered the Finals as the MVP. Paul Pierce left the Finals as the MVP. Any questions?
Paul has been here from day one of his NBA career and there's little doubt that he'll leave with a number retirement ceremony. His 34 will take its rightful place among the greats that he drew inspiration and encouragement from. Pierce ached to be a true Celtic, a Championship Celtic. Now he is, and I couldn't be happier for anyone on the team.
Thank you Paul Pierce. Thank you for getting back up every single time. Thank you for facing every challenge head on. Thank you for being a true Celtic in every sense of the word. Thank you.