Paul Pierce is a ferocious competitor. You know, the Paul Pierce who flashed a threatening gang sign at an Atlanta Hawk player during a 2008 playoff game. The Paul Pierce who was stabbed eleven times in the face, neck and back at a club one night a couple years into his NBA career. The Paul Pierce who grew up in Inglewood–which was glamorous only when Magic and the Lakers came at night–and who was given a pass by the gangs just because he could ball like nobody’s business? That Paul Pierce has his tough neighborhood in him every night, even though he left that neighborhood years ago–first for Kansas and then for stardom. All that jabber about Kobe and LeBron? Paul Pierce said he was the best player in the world in the late oughts–and he backed it up most nights. Man can score a million ways. Scored more points for the Boston Celtics than Larry Bird.
The Brooklyn Nets had the temerity this offseason to disrespect Pierce and let him go after just one season. Now Pierce is a Washington Wizard, surrounded by talent that surprised in last year’s playoffs, and his fury–to compete, to win, to prove everybody wrong–is raging. Pierce is setting the Wizards tone. He wants the team to establish a veritable fortress at home–protecting it at all costs. And apparently he’s going to take that anger on the road too. He was all up in Joakim Noah’s face in Chicago in their recent preseason matchup, after committing a hard foul on the Bulls’ Jimmy Butler. Wizards won by four, 85-81. Pierce had 2 points and 5 personal fouls. He’s even angrier now. But if he’s healthy, the league is about to get a big dose of The Truth.