Paul Pierce was hospitalized with over a dozen stab wounds on September 25, 2000. He astoundingly recovered to play all 82 games next year.
Pierce became something of a standing joke due to his propensity for hot takes as an ESPN NBA analyst. The 15-year Celtics veteran also seemed to have an irrational hatred for the best player of the generation – LeBron James.
This caused a lot of people to dismiss his credibility as a basketball brain. Some newbie fans, have, thus, formed an impression of the Oakland-born forward that is far from ideal.
But as they say with everything, it takes a look beyond the headlines and the scandals to understand the makeup of any human being. And what is being forgotten, in such dialogue, is how much of a bad somebody Pierce was at his peak.
Here’s a tale that is so legendary that it even prompted Bleacher Report to pay homage to Pierce, if in a tongue-in-cheek fashion, through their parody basketball web series called Game of Zones.
Paul Pierce played all 82 games the season after he was hospitalized with multiple stab wounds
Pierce was the victim of some mob violence when he tried talking to two women at the Buzz Club. The incident took off when a man took offense to him approaching the aforementioned ladies – he called himself their brother.
A group of other men enveloped Pierce. He was punched by a group of men, stabbed five times between his shoulder blades. He also took three slashes across his stomach, with one cutting into his diaphragm, puncturing a lung and slipping within a half-inch of his heart.
Anger consumed him as he lay recovering at home in California with his mother. He considered revenge. “I was just like, ‘Man, I’ll kill somebody.’ I really isolated myself, I didn’t talk to friends, family. All I thought about was basketball.”
Pierce poured his blood, sweat, tears and all his heart into the game, leading to an outstanding season of basketball brilliance in shamrock green. He might have been snubbed for an All-Star Game appearance, but he’d proved to everyone that he was indeed The Truth.
Pierce played all 82 games in 2000-01, averaging over 25 points per game for the first time in his career. His All-Star snub that year notwithstanding, he still earned 10 of those by the time he retired.
As he’s inducted to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame today, this is the lasting image one should keep of the 6’8″ forward with a die-hard approach. That of a man who scripted a fairytale out of a nightmare accident.