Pierce has become the John Henry of the NBA – perhaps not of the same stature, but a man capable of equally breathtaking displays of consistent excellence. A player most renown for his ability to get to his spot on the floor at will – “just to the right of the foul stripe, 19 feet and in” – wields that power like the mythical Henry and his hammer, blasting holes big enough to accommodate a freight train through defensive mountains.
Paul Pierce is the NBA.
Kobe’s not. LeBron’s not. Kareem, Wilt, Russell, Cousy, West, Magic, Bird Jordan, none of them are. They stand out and above, they’re how we define the league through example. It’s defining the collective by the exception.You can’t represent a league that’s seen hundreds of great basketball players come and go through the lens of the very best. You miss the forest for the tallest standing trees. The league’s not defined by the no-names either. The bench players, the garbage men, the end-of-the-bench, they’re part of the tapestry, but that’s like describing a piece of art only by the canvas. Or the wall it hangs on. You’re missing what you remember. And Pierce is the NBA. He’s the kind of player that really makes up the story of the NBA, what it’s been about, it’s best and worst.
Tip #1: Don’t Give Him The Elbow Jumper.
Pierce loves the elbow. I’m pretty sure he owns a nice upscale penthouse apartment there (ooo, I bet it has a rooftop infinity edge pool!). If he catches the ball at the top of the key late in games, the following is going to occur: He’ll size you up with a few calculated jabs and dribbles. He’ll then take off right, towards the rim as if he wants to drive (DON’T BELIEVE IT). Then, just at the most opportune moment, he’ll launch off his inside foot, leap back away from the basket, and create just enough space to get off a shot that will inevitably rip through the net. So whatever you do, force him away from that right elbow. Take him out of his comfort zone. It’s crucial to defending Pierce. Besides, giving him that elbow jumper is a lot like listening to Drake: There’s just no excuse for it.
Those are just a few, go over to Hardwood Paroxysm to check out the rest. Some of it is good… some of it you might not like. But if you're looking to read some Celtics stuff for a little while, this will do the trick.