Although he has gone on to wear a few other uniforms, Paul Pierce’s legacy remains with the Boston Celtics. One day his #34 will be hanging in the rafters of Boston’s arena with the likes of greats including Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, and Larry Bird.
For a long time Pierce was the Celtics’ best player by far, leading teams overshadowed by the expectations set by the great teams of the ’80s. 2006 was one of those tougher years, but for one night Pierce gave the home crowd something to cheer about.
On February 15, 2006, the Boston Celtics were hosting the Cleveland Cavaliers lead by the King, aka LeBron James. Laced up in a pair of his second signature model, the Nike Air Max P2 II, Pierce was hoping to show the rising Cavs’ team a lesson. But after the first quarter the away team was up by seven. For the next two quarters the scoring was slow, with both teams pretty much even in scoring. But the fourth quarter was another story. Pierce led the team by making jumpers and being aggressive, and getting to the foul line. He would lead a surge to tie it up and push the game to overtime.
In the first overtime #34 would score five of the team’s nine points, including a pivotal And+1 that tied the game and lead to another overtime. However, LeBron and the Cavs pushed the pace during the second overtime. The Celtics went on to lose the game 113-109, with the Cavaliers being led by a LeBron James triple-double.
By the end of the saga, Pierce ended up scoring a career-high 50 points going 17 for 36 from the field and 16-20 from the charity stripe. An interesting note was that he didn’t make any three-pointers that night. Pierce was the first Celtics player to score 50 points since Larry Bird in 1989. It would be a season without a Playoff birth and another two seasons before the Boston “Big Three” would be formed. However, Pierce’s performance, even for a loss, was one that Celtics’ fans wouldn’t soon forget.