Did the Clippers Reenact Paul Pierce’s Stabbing Last Night?
Paul Pierce said Wednesday night’s game between the Celtics and Clippers might be the final time he plays in Boston. So naturally, when the Celtics introduced him prior to tip-off, he received a hero’s welcome from the Garden faithful.
But instead of embracing him at mid-court, his Clippers teammates mauled him. They also appeared to stab him a number of times, re-enacting perhaps Pierce’s most trying moment during his 15-year stint in Boston.
Celtics fans welcoming back Paul Pierce https://t.co/xXZbGuCB36
— Tyler Sullivan (@TylerSully) February 11, 2016
In the early morning hours of Sept. 25, 2000, Pierce was stabbed nearly a dozen times in the face, neck, and back and had a bottle smashed over his head at a Boston-area nightclub. Pierce’s friends rushed him to the hospital, where he underwent lung surgery to repair the damage. He was discharged less than one week later, and remarkably didn’t miss a single game that season.
Eight years later, Pierce flourished as the Celtics’ team captain and led the franchise to its first championship win in 22 years. He was named Finals MVP, which cemented his place among the pantheon of Celtics greats.
The Celtics shipped Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Brooklyn Nets three years ago in exchange for three first-round picks and the right to swap first-rounders in 2017. Though Pierce has played against the Celtics several times since the trade, he said prior to Wednesday night’s game it’s always special when he returns to the Garden.
“The fans really appreciate what I’ve been able to do over my career, not only on the court but off the court, how I embraced the city of Boston, the culture, the work I was able to do in the community,” Pierce said, via MassLive. “They appreciate that so this has a special place in my heart.”
If Pierce retires at the end of the season, Wednesday’s contest would’ve been a fitting way for him to step off the parquet floor. In addition to his rousing pre-game reception, the Celtics defeated the Clippers 139-134 in an overtime thriller, which may have been their most exciting win of the season. Pierce, who captained the last Celtics championship run, might have witnessed this year’s team’s coming out party.
Celtics fans watched Pierce grow from a brash young player into one of the game’s elder statesmen. Wednesday night’s events were a fitting tribute, but the Clippers’ apparent reenactment of perhaps Pierce’s lowest moment in a Celtics uniform mars some of that.
Pierce didn’t seem bothered by the demonstration, but it was still a bizarre way to begin possibly his night ever in Boston as an active player.