Paul Pierce: eleven stabs ... and 28 points just 37 days later

Tomorrow marks the 20th anniversary of the incident in a Boston nightclub that could have cost Paul Pierce his life. Eight years later, he was champion and MVP.


Tomorrow, September 25, marks 20 years of a fight that could be tragic and that ended up being, luckily, just a horrendous chapter in the life of Paul Pierce, the champion and MVP of the 2008 Finals with the Boston Celtics, the legendary franchise that has already raised its number 34 to the roof of the TD Garden, where there are hardly any more shirts. Pierce, an Oakland-born boy who grew up in Inglewood idolizing the Showtime Lakers (The Ironies of Life), was given his nickname, The Truth, by Shaquille O'neal, when the forward was 23 and after that the mythical center would end up impressed after a face-to-face duel: “Write this down: my name is Shaquille O'Neal and Paul Pierce is the fucking truth. Cite me on that, I'm not going to remove a comma. I knew it was good, but I didn't know it could be that good. Paul Pierce is the truth. ”

Number 10 in the 1998 draft, Pierce landed in a historic franchise that stroked in the gum of its worst crisis: in a stretch of eight years without a winning balance (1993-2001), six without playoffs (1995-2001) and a decade without win a playoff, from the 1992 second-round loss to the 2002 conference final puncture, against the Nets. They were those Celtics who were surrounded by tremendous pressure and whose fans (very upset) said Rick Pitino, desperate, that "Larry Bird is not going to appear through that door" .

The Celtics, on that September 25, 2000, felt again the breath of tragedy, which had frozen the bones of the franchise with the deaths of Len Bias, after a night of excesses in 1986, and Reggie Lewis, who fell struck down with a heart problem on the training track in 1993. 23-year-old Paul Pierce came very close to delivering another horrible blow to the green franchise. He moved on, shutting himself up in basketball as a sanctuary to escape the emotional consequences of the incident: he completely rethought his lifestyle, hired 24-hour surveillance for his home, and carried a gun for two years.

The Incident: Paul Pierce and a group of friends approached some women at the Buzz Club, in a busy nightlife area of Boston. Someone approached him to tell him not to talk to them, and Pierce didn't remember much more afterwards, only that the adrenaline barely made him feel the bottle on his head that forced him to have surgery in the area of one eye or, especially at the eleven stab wounds he received, at least three in the stomach and five in the back, with two different weapons. One of the wounds was almost 18 centimeters deep. His life was in serious danger and he was saved a couple of centimeters to the left or right and, according to the doctors, by the leather jacket he was wearing. He had arrived at the hospital with almost no air (he had to be operated on on a collapsing lung) and wondering if he was going to die while accelerating the car of Tony Battie, his teammate in the Celtics and one of those who was with him at the Buzz Club.

The truly incredible thing, and something that perhaps hasn't been given enough value in Pierce's career, is that within a few weeks he was training, and that on November 1 (he had been stabbed, I remember, on September 25) He played the first game of the 2000-01 season: 28 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists in more than 38 minutes on the court (103-83 against the Pistons). When they drafted him (surprised that he had dropped to number 10) the Celtics knew they were taking a tough player, but they didn't know they were getting one so tough, one that would carry the weight of a historic team and it would be, eight years later, reference and champion along with Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, the big three directed by Doc Rivers.

Kenny Anderson, Pierce's teammate in those Celtics, marvels remembering his ability to overcome drama and its aftermath: “I saw that it was going to be special, I saw that it was going to be important, that it was going to be someone like Larry Bird. The Celtics had to keep betting on that kid. And they did, and it was champion. I was very happy, he got what he deserved. From a very tough situation he recovered, regained his passion for basketball, gave everything for the people of Boston and won a title for them. And now there is hardly any talk about what happened, it's crazy. Surely the normal thing is that he would have died, let's say things as they are. He was stabbed multiple times, it's crazy. And he lived, and he kept playing. It's amazing how he recovered from all that. And he continued in the same city where everything had happened. Normally he runs away from something like that, but he continued for 11 or 12 years playing there, in Boston. To this day, everything still seems incredible to me. ”

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