The star that shone backwards

I woke up this morning to find InsideHoops claiming that, beknownst only to them, Paul Pierce was headed to Denver for Andre Miller and Nene. Within a few hours, the language had been changed to the Nuggets' "known interest" in the deal, with some sports talk station having already gotten a resounding denial from the Celtics brass, and I'm guessing that Boston was more concerned with the Bald Redhead's imminent death. But I'm a little hung up on this Pierce rumor, not only because it would make the Nuggets into a team that could challenge the Spurs, and put Gerald Green that much closer to getting the "next J.R. Smith" rookie campaign he, and we, so rightfully deserve. It made me do some hard thinking about the man whose nickname is second only to AI's when it comes to prophetic decisiveness—and who, as a player and personality, might be the most elusive star in the league.

Paul Pierce is nearly impossible to get a handle on, which might be why I was mildly obsessed with him for a few years. He's still that "pick #10" underdog, despite regularly landing in the All-Star game, putting up serious numbers, and drawing triple-teams. Humble and self-effacing, but known to talk shit and forget to pass the ball—often with dramatic, game-saving results. He's of only average athleticism, but so reckless in the lane that getting inside is never a problem for him; only AI and Wade subject themselves to more punishment inside. His build verges on doughy, but he carries himself with a swagger you'd expect from a musclebound brute like K-Mart or an ethereal figment like T-Mac. He grew up tough in L.A. and survived a brutal stabbing early in his career, but is oddly lacking in street cred. His attitude's taken a variety of beatings over the last couple of years, from "he needs Toine to be human" to "he's immature and selfish," but he was thrown into the abyss of rebuilding when he was on his way to achieving the only thing he ever talks about: a return to the great Celtics Basketball tradition of winning a lot. Blamed for the U.S.'s end at the Worlds, but could have saved last year's Olympic team (outside shot, guts, and not on a one-man campaign for legitimacy)(should he be? does he even know the answer to thise?). He's probably the best player the Celtics have had since Bird, but no one considers him a franchise guy—even less than they did Toine. He's a triple-double threat who puts in a lot of work for a two-guard, but gets unfairly typecast as "just a scorer." Takes this much space to figure out, when really he might be as ordinary as his name (which is actually so normal it's exotic). And while his stats, winning with no team, and rep for big games are as impressive as anything in recent memory not belonging to Kobe, Iverson, KG, Duncan, or Shaq, no one seems comfortable with acknowleding that he's a full-fledged star, much less considering him for the upper echelons.

(really, do you see this goofy white dude dressing up as KG for Halloween? maybe, MAYBE, if he were six years old, but even the kids recognize: you don't dress up as The Man, you aspire to it in your hearts of hearts.)

My reaction to having finally put all that down in one place—a mixture of awe, indifference, respect, boredom, rote enthusiasm, sadness, empty fascination, insular pride, and outright disgust—makes me think that there must be something there. Or is there so little that I can project an entire world of meaning onto him?

Or maybe it all comes down to the nickname. Deep down inside, I'm assuming that no one simple, shallow, or slight could ever get handed the nickname "The Truth" (one thing I think I know about Pierce: he didn't come up with that) and have it really stick.

"I want you to meet my new poodle, Space-Time Continuum"

"I don't understand it, all my teenage daughter wants to do is hit the mall, drink wine coolers, chat on IM, and complain about her give name, 'MEGAFILTER.'"

"He named his dick what?"
"Eternal Recurrence of the Same."


At 9/08/2005 4:28 PM, Anonymous illwafer said...

this is a steal for the celtics.


At 9/08/2005 4:55 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

we'd all nene to be good, for the same reason that we'd like any and every brazilian to get something done in the Association: because brazil is the shit on so many levels, and most of us fall into the demographic that's been taught to believe this over the last few years. but i think we all know that dull 'ol super-model and Nazi haven Argentenia is Latin America's basketball talent pipeline.

if Pierce is so crappy, name me 20 players in the NBA better than him RIGHT NOW (none of this "dwight howard" bullshit).

if he's a top twenty player that gets no love, clearly he's not overrated.

At 9/08/2005 5:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your blog is good, but it could be a teensy eensy bit better. Visit email autoresponder and get the FREE information on Blogs & RSS.

At 9/08/2005 5:15 PM, Anonymous paul said...

love pierce ...

don't love pierce and carmelo together.

nene finally gets his chance to break out though.

At 9/08/2005 5:21 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

i have always said that melo knows how to play with others much better than he's shown in the pros. pierce, as anthony said, has been driven insane by ainge. he used to self-effacing, almost to a fault. or just couldn't make an impression, for some reason.

At 9/08/2005 5:41 PM, Anonymous paul said...

"i have always said that melo knows how to play with others much better than he's shown in the pros."

that doesn't make it true.

At 9/08/2005 5:49 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

the fact that he did in college does, though

At 9/08/2005 5:57 PM, Anonymous paul said...

not trying to be a dick or anything, but i'm just REALLY not buying the idea of carmelo being a 'co-superstar.' if i had to choose between the two i'd much rather have pierce. but i'm not convinced that carmelo will be able to defer to him when it counts.

At 9/08/2005 6:05 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

right now their games are similar in a lot of ways, but pierce is more versatile than people give him credit for, and melo is at his best when he accepts his limitations and goes for the efficient, less-is-more role on a team. if pierce handled the ball a lot, penetrated, and broke down defenses, then melo could make something smooth and measured happen in its wake.

but i worry that, if this happened, i would have to start a free k-mart petition.

At 9/08/2005 6:14 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

i guess i didn't really answer what you said about melo deferring, and i think if there's one thing we all know about pierce, it's that he's as streaky as anyone in the league, and is going to win games for you by catching fire in the 4th and heroically taking every shot for six minutes.

At 9/08/2005 6:15 PM, Anonymous paul said...

"melo is at his best when he accepts his limitations and goes for the efficient, less-is-more role on a team."

that much is true, but i don't see him playing that way from this point on ... especially considering that he'll be gunning for an extension soon.

that brings up an interesting question - are the nuggets going to be able to keep everybody after this season? they've got camby, k-mart, and now presumably pierce on big contracts, and plenty of well-paid role players (watson, boykins, et al.). could they possibly go out like the suns?

At 9/08/2005 6:21 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

another paul pierce mystery: i have no idea what he makes. you'd think he's have a max deal, but something about that just doesn't sound right, like i never heard when he signed it.

At 9/08/2005 6:44 PM, Anonymous paul said...

not really a mystery at all. he gets paid out the fuckin frame. deal at $14 mil next year, running with your usual 10% raises through 07/08. must be nice.

At 9/08/2005 7:38 PM, Anonymous aug said...

Paul is one of the only guys in the nba to average 20-5-5 every year for the past couple seasons(kg, kobe, tmac, and until recently webber). I see him as both over and underrated. It's kinda weird.

At 9/08/2005 7:49 PM, Anonymous aug said...

And is it just me or are truth and melo pretty much the same person. Both average athletic, decent outside shot, not really big size wise to play in the post, but for some reason get the job done. I've always saw melo turning out like pierce. They both play really hard to be on the level they're on(melo still has a while to go to catch pierce). It'll be interesting to see them play together and see if pierce mentors melo some.

At 9/08/2005 7:55 PM, Anonymous paul said...

"Paul is one of the only guys in the nba to average 20-5-5 every year for the past couple seasons(kg, kobe, tmac, and until recently webber)"


At 9/14/2005 4:38 PM, Blogger Jeff said...

nice post

At 10/02/2005 2:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cool blog you have going here, I will check in often! I have a similar site about autoresponders and rss - small world! :-)

Best Wishes,
autoresponders and rss


Post a Comment

<< Home