NBA: Here's the Truth, Paul Pierce Is a Legend

Zane StalbergContributor IIIJune 12, 2012

MIAMI, FL - JUNE 05:  Paul Pierce #34 of the Boston Celtics stands on court in the second half against the Miami Heat in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Finals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on June 5, 2012 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

During the course of his up and down NBA career, Paul Pierce, otherwise known as "The Truth," has been recognized as one of the league's stars, but not one of it's elite. In looking at the numbers, however, the time is past due to reconsider that notion. Although Pierce has never been the single best player in the league at any one time in his career, he has consistently played at a superior level, and is unquestionably one of the best the game has ever seen. 

Perhaps the thing that defines Pierce the most is that he has never been great at one particular thing; instead, he's an all-around player that is spectacular in certain moments. He is a consistent scorer, but not a scoring champion, a 10-time all star, but not once a member of the NBA's first team, and a Finals MVP, but never the league's MVP. However, in looking at the statistics that make up Pierce's time in Boston, it is hard not to compare him to other elite players of his generation, or be shocked at his true greatness. 

Take these numbers into account. According to Bill Simmons in his article titled "The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing but the Truth", Pierce is 39th all time in minutes played, 30th in points scored, 30th in points per game, 150th in rebounds, 100th in assists and 40th in steals. He is without question one of the NBA's best all-time scorers and for a small forward, he has an exceptional amount of assists and steals. As Simmons says, "statistically there's never been a wing player like him." 

Beyond that, you can delve even further into Pierce's numbers. Of the players on the NBA's 50 greatest players list, Pierce has outscored 32, out-rebounded 20 and handed out more assists than 26. Paul Pierce was never No. 1 in any statistical category, but is one of the three best Celtics of all time, and certainly one of the greatest players the league has ever witnessed play—even if it hardly felt that way. 

As an NBA champion, a Finals MVP, a 10-time All-Star and one of the most unique players to ever lace up a pair of NBA sneakers, Paul Pierce is a first-ballot Hall of Famer who still has some time to move up the statistical leaderboards.