You Can’t Handle The Truth

Posted: December 16, 2010 in Fans and Opinions, NBA
Tags: , , , , , ,

By Phil Bausk

Game 4 of the 2003-2004 NBA Playoffs. That was the last time there was a big event at Madison Square Garden that didn’t involve the New York Rangers, Big East basketball, or Dave Matthews (Frankly, other concerts don’t count as a big event. You know it’s a big event when 3 out of every 4 people on Facebook have a status about it and DMB takes the cake on that one).

Last night’s game between the New York Knicks and the Boston Celtics was one of the best sporting events I have ever attended in my young life. MSG was rocking, and there was a great scene during the pregame introductions where fans held orange glow-in-the-dark thundersticks, illuminating the Garden, and creating a tremendous atmosphere. The Celtics won this thriller on a game-winning, mid-range jumper off the hands of Paul “The Truth” Pierce. The Knicks nearly won it at the buzzer, as Ama’re Stoudemire hit a 3-pointer, but it was just milliseconds after time had run out.  The crowd was excited, the players were excited, but more importantly, the media was excited.

This was the sort of game that basketball in New York needed. The Knicks needed to be tested by one of the best teams in the league. The country needed to see how the Knicks would react in the spotlight. But what New York basketball really needed was  a reason for Knicks fans to begin to loathe the Celtics, other then the obvious Boston-New York dynamic (There were a few “Boston Sucks” chants dispersed amongst the crowd. Remember when that used to be true? For the past decade, Boston has an upper hand on this Boston-NY rivalry, but that’s for a separate article).

The Knicks faithful got their catalyst to hate the Celtics, when Pierce spent all week denying that the Celtics and the Knicks were a legitimate rivalry. He even said that the Knicks and Celts will probably become a rivalry when he is out of the league. Pierce is known to be brash when it comes to making public statements, and the platform of a Knicks-Celts rivalry probably made him salivate. He knew he could go a few days refuting the idea of a rivalry, only to come to the Garden and play his heart out, hit the game-winning shot, and then bow to the crowd at center court, infuriating the entire borough of Manhattan.

It was easy to tell from the start that this game meant a lot to both teams. While it meant more to the Knicks, both morally and in the standings, the Celtics refused to be beaten by a team they didn’t see as their equal. Pierce, who may be the most arrogant athlete in Boston sports history, appeared to play his heart out. He continually drove to the hoop, demanded the ball in crunch time, and ultimately won a game for the C’s that they maybe shouldn’t have won.

This is what I, as well as every other Celtics fan, love about “The Truth.” He gives us 110%. There are few athletes in sports who have as much talent as Pierce, and go out and compete like he does (Luckily there are 3 more of them are on the Celtics in Allen, Garnett, and Rondo). He may run his mouth a couple times a year, but Pierce either backs it up, or will try his best to do so.

For over 900 games, Pierce has played his heart out for a wide-range of Celtic teams. He and Antoine Walker (who should ask Pierce for a place to stay) helped carry a below average Celtics team to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2002. This was just 18 months removed from the famous stabbing incident, in which Pierce was stabbed 11 times outside of a Boston nightclub (I’d love to see the Akron Scammer come back  from that).

After that team fell apart, Pierce still played hard for a Celtics franchise that wanted to trade him. In classic Pierce fashion, he expressed his displeasure through the media, but continued to try and win games for the C’s. This situation reached a tipping point when Pierce sat out most of the 2006-2007 season due to “significant injuries.” This was a rare occurrence in his career in which Pierce let his emotions get the best of him and let it effect his play on the court. It was Pierce’s frustration with Danny Ainge and management that led to the acquisitions of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen.

While last night’s game was just another notch on Pierce’s belt, it proved once again that when you need a last second shot, there are few guys in the league you would rather go to than “The Truth.”

Doesn’t this quote from Pierce give you all the confidence in the world in him?

“I love these type of environments,” Pierce said. “It’s rare when you get these type of environments in the regular season. There’s only so many games you circle on the schedule, where you say, ‘Hey, this is going to be a playoff-type atmosphere, a playoff-type game.’

On the other side of the ball, the Knicks have to be happy with their efforts. While they didn’t come out on top, they have earned the respect of the Celtics, and with another strong showing against the Miami Heat on Friday, they can cement themselves as a legitimate playoff team. While they aren’t at contender level yet, and have a lot of work to do to get there, this team that GM Donnie Walsh has put together has pumped life, not only back into the Garden, but into the streets of New York.

Orange and blue are now making their way back into the wardrobe of New Yorkers. There are Stoudemire, Gallinari, and Felton jerseys being worn around the city, as opposed to seeing old school Patrick Ewing and John Starks throwbacks. The Knicks are like that girl in high school who wasn’t all that attractive back in the day, but when you have your mini reunions after college, you start to see that she wasn’t that bad looking in the first place. All she needed was some time away from home, better looking guys in college to make herself want to appear more attractive, and four years of becoming a “seasoned veteran.”

I plan on attending more Knicks games this season (and seeing Blake Griffin poop on another New York Knick’s head), and hope that the Garden can maintain this level of enthusiasm. While it may take a few more games like last night, things are definitely looking up for basketball in New York.

As for Pierce, it’s a shame he doesn’t get as much credit as deserves for the career he has put together so far. If he plays long enough, which I doubt, he can become the all-time leading scorer for the Celtics. He WILL pass Larry Bird on that list, and while he will never be compared to Bird or other past C’s, he has cemented a spot in the Pantheon of great Boston Celtics. Whether you like him or not, there’s not denying that Paul Pierce is nothing but “The Truth.”

  1. […] have impacted a franchise and their fans as much as Pierce did during his long tenure in Boston. Even during his later years with the team, it was hard not to reflect on his accomplishments after h… So it is no wonder that after his return to Boston last night that the internet is overflowing […]

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