This is something that many of us have known for a while, but few have put it so eloquently as Jason Whitlock does in his article today:
His game doesn’t remind you of another all-time great player. You see, we knew Magic Johnson was a better big guard than Oscar Robertson. We could see that Michael Jordan easily eclipsed Jerry West and surpassed Julius Erving. It didn’t take long to figure out that Larry Bird had more game than John Havlicek.
And now, we compare Kevin Garnett to Tim Duncan and Kevin McHale. We rate Allen Iverson and Chris Paul in comparison to Isiah Thomas. We look at how Dwight Howard stacks up against Moses Malone. And, of course, Kobe is judged on the Jordan meter.
Paul Pierce? He’s nearly a total original. At halftime of Boston’s 108-102 game-two blowout-turned-squeaker over the Los Angeles Lakers, I asked Basketball Bob Ryan, perhaps the most knowledgeable NBA writer of the past 30 years, to compare Pierce’s game to any former player. Ryan, a columnist for the Boston Globe, couldn’t come up with a name.
Nope. In order to give Pierce his proper due, we’re going to have to acknowledge that he is setting a new standard. We’re going to have to acknowledge the originality of his game. He’s a little bit Charles Barkley, a teeny bit Bernard King, a dash of George Gervin, a sliver of Elgin Baylor and a small helping of Reggie Miller.