Speaking with the Boston Globe's Gary Washburn, Hall of Famer John Havlicek sang the praises of The Truth, lamenting his departure from Beantown and calling him the best one-on-one scorer in Celtics history:
That's what free agency does, it doesn't allow you to have that continuity. We never made a trade in 10 years (with the Celtics) and all the people remained the same. It's a lot different today but I wish him well. He's one of the best all-around players and the thing I marveled at was his one-on-one ability. I think he's the best one-on-one player of all Celtics.
Havlicek, who spent all 16 of his NBA seasons with the Celtics, knows a thing or two about scoring. The 24,021 points Pierce notched while in Boston are second only to Havlicek's 26,395. When he says Pierce is the best one-on-one player in franchise history, we'd be wise to listen.
Not that such an assertion is unbelievable. Pierce has spent the last decade-plus building his reputation as one of the greatest current solo acts in basketball. His isolation sets have become notorious with games on the line, and fans who have been on the receiving end of one of his daggers (so, New York Knicks fans), know he can be a one-man wrecking crew.
Coining him Boston's top one-on-one gun, however, puts him in front of other legends like Larry Bird and Havlicek himself. Those two certainly knew how to create their own offense, but is The Truth actually better than them?
I'd believe it, though I also suffer from elevated blood pressure every time he touches the ball late in games. I've watched him bury many a game-winner, so my perception may be a tad skewed.
Is Paul Pierce the best one-on-one player in Celtics history?
Still, there's no doubt he's one of the better one-on-one scorers the league has seen. Fifteen years of clutch-ness in Boston has earned him that much credit.
Now he's off to Brooklyn, where he'll chase a second championship. Surrounded by four other superstars, the need for his unaided heroics may not be as prevalent. Pierce himself said he was prepared to become more of a glorified role player with the Nets. Celebrated role players aren't often tasked with winning games on their own.
Then again, this is Pierce. Exploiting opponents off the dribble and with a step-back is what he does—better than any other Celtic Havlicek has ever seen.