5 reasons why Paul Pierce is underrated
Paul 'The Truth' Pierce is one of the greatest players to ever don a Boston Celtics' jersey. Through 15 years of playing at the Garden for one of the biggest fanbases in the league, Pierce represented the Celtics in the most blameless manner possible - till the age of 35.
Pierce's game aged quite well. He was never over-reliant on his athleticism, using his basketball IQ and jump shooting skill to get all the crucial buckets that the Celtics needed whenever he was able to. Through the length of his career, he was an above-average defender and was beaten out to All-Defensive teams because of the stature of purely defensive players during his prime years.
His list of honors ranks right up there with many top-50 players in the history of basketball. He was a 10-time All-Star. He was selected to 4 All-NBA teams. He has a championship during which he was crowned Finals MVP for his two-way play - people forget that his defense forced Kobe Bryant to miss 9 straight shots in game 6 of the 2008 NBA Finals.
However, he is never recognized as a top 50 player. Here, we take a look at the top 5 reasons why Pierce's legacy is much greater than is portrayed by new fans of the game, and he is really underrated:
#5 He never had postseason success in the first 9 years of his career
Pierce's initial years as a Celtic involved a lot of playoff disappointment. Since the retirements of Kevin McHale, Larry Bird and Robert Parish, the Celtics had never been in the contention for a title. Teams like the Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers, Philadelphia 76ers, New York Knicks and the New Jersey Nets had way more postseason success than Pierce's Celtics.
It was not due to any shortcoming in Pierce's skill set. Pierce was as complete a player as ever seen at the small forward position during the late 90s and the early noughties. But the rest of the Celtics was beyond lackluster, and they were never in contention for a conference title. They lost to the New Jersey Nets in the Conference Finals in Pierce's 4th season (2001-02).