The Washington Wizards’ Paul Pierce likes to thump his chest and pop his jersey. He’s been a great NBA player for a long time — after his lone NBA championship, he called himself the “best player in the world.” But somehow Pierce must feel he doesn’t get enough respect. Because in all Pierce’s massive desire to be “the man” (and “the truth”, his occasional nickname), he repeatedly goes it alone, ignoring teammates and yelping like a poor man’s Muhammad Ali. (Ali, for whom the style worked, wasn’t playing a team game.)
With 8.3 seconds left in Game 5 Pierce hit a 3-pointer to put the Wizards up one. Pierce pranced around after the shot, played to the crowd, shouted “series!” and avoided his teammates. (He’d done the same on previous big shots.) What Pierce didn’t do was hurry to the team huddle and get ready to defend. Would have been a good idea, because, again: 8.3 seconds left. The Hawks used those 8.3 seconds to win the game. The Paul Pierce who won a championship didn’t act like that. He played and he delivered. Pierce has been one of the best players to watch in the history of the game. Is this a midlife basketball crisis? Pierce shot 33% to score 11 points and committed 4 personal fouls in 35 minutes. Hawks 82, Wizards 81.