Paul Pierce Reaches Milestone
Against the Milwaukee Bucks Wednesday night, Paul Pierce hit two pivotal free throws to seal a 105-102 overtime win for the Celtics. The overtime free throws that the Celtics captain drained helped lift Boston to a 4-1 record and their third consecutive win, but also lifted Pierce himself into a revered place in NBA and Celtics history: Pierce’s 28 point effort against the Bucks (12 points in OT) put him among basketball’s elite: the 20,000 point club.
Pierce becomes only the 37th player in NBA history to reach the 20,000-point mark, and now trails only John Havlicek and Larry Bird for the most points in Celtics history. After the game, on his Twitter account, Pierce commented that, “Those names, those are Hall of Famers, Top 50 players. To be mentioned with them…hopefully I can continue to do great things for the C’s.” In his 13th season in the league, all of them with the Celtics, Pierce also becomes only the 12th player in league history to reach 20,000 points with only one NBA team—joining Kobe, Dirk Nowitzki, and Tim Duncan as the only active players to do so.
The 34-year old Pierce, who shows no sign of slowing down this year or anytime soon, has an outside chance of even further cementing his place in history later this season: at 4-1, the Celtics have 77 games left in the season (not counting the playoffs), and if Pierce were to average slightly over 23 points per game—just above his career average of 22.5 PPG—he would pass Larry Bird’s mark of 21,791 points with the Celtics before the end of the year. Similarly, if Pierce’s current 22.5 PPG average holds up, he will pass John Havlicek’s career milestone of 26,395 points sometime in the middle of the 2013-14 season and become the number one leading scorer in Boston Celtics history.
Although it seems that nearly all basketball-savvy minds in Boston are concentrating on pursuing their would-be league-best 18th NBA Championship, they would be hard pressed to ignore the feats and abilities of Paul Pierce, especially if he surpasses the likes of Bird and Havlicek. Twenty-thousand of anything is a substantial amount, but in basketball circles, twenty-thousand points is legendary status. Congratulations, Mr. Pierce.