Paul Pierce has been undervalued his entire NBA career.
He's a guy who was projected to be picked in the top three of the 1998 NBA Draft before falling to the Celtics at No. 10.
Since then, he's been a star in a league full of superstars.
He's a guy who's been to seven All-Star games, but hasn't been voted into any of them by the fans.
He's not a muscular, explosive high-riser with marketing deals coming out of his you-know-what like LeBron James.
He's not a scoring machine who has helped transform a baller's wardrobe, hairstyle, and way of life like Allen Iverson.
He's not a high-profile force that shines bright in a town full of movie stars like Kobe Bryant.
Paul Pierce isn't any of those things.
He's just a basketball player.
He's a player who has spent his entire career as the captain of one of the most decorated franchises in professional sports.
He's a player who will more than likely eclipse the 20,000-point mark this upcoming season.
He's one of the best closers in the game today.
He's an NBA champion.
Shaq put everyone on alert early. Paul Pierce is The Truth.
And the truth is, Paul Pierce deserves to go to the Hall of Fame.
Pierce doesn't have the kind of numbers that cry out first-ballot Hall of Famer. He's averaged about 23 points, six rebounds, and four assists a game over his 11-year career. His playoff averages remain pretty consistent to his regular season numbers.
But Pierce's numbers compare very well to recent Hall of Famers at his position. Adrian Dantley, who was inducted in 2008, averaged a little over a point more than Pierce over his career while Pierce has averaged more rebounds and assists.
More importantly, Pierce owns a championship ring. Dantley doesn't.
Clyde Drexler, a 2004 inductee, averaged almost two more assists than Pierce. However, Pierce has averaged about two more points than Drexler while their rebounds are nearly identical. Both have won a championship.
Pierce has a knack of turning up his game a little more when going against some of the elite that the NBA has to offer. In 2006, Pierce scored 50 points in a loss to King James and Cleveland. Two years later, he dropped 41 in an epic Game Seven victory in the Eastern Conference Semis against the Cavs, a game where LeBron scored 45 points in a losing effort.
Against Kobe and the Lakers, Pierce has averaged over 27 points a game, including a 42-point effort in 2001 that led the Big Aristotle himself to proclaim Pierce as "the (expletive) truth."
But Pierce isn't really that picky about who he's going to drop his points on. He's the third all-time leading scorer in Celtics history with 18,603 points, trailing guys named Larry Bird and John Havlicek. His career scoring average is second in team history behind Bird.
And he's done all of this after surviving a near-fatal attack in 2000 in which he was stabbed 11 times while in a Boston night club.
So why isn't Paul Pierce considered elite? Is it because he lacks the flashiness that many superstars have today?
Maybe it's because of the low-quality teams he's played on in the past?
Who really knows? All that matters to Celtics fans is that Pierce will be the last player to ever wear No. 34 for the Green.
Pierce's legacy in Boston continues to grow, but not as a marketer, stylist, or movie star.
He will always be known as a basketball player first and foremost.
Some people might not want to call him a superstar.
But soon, everyone's going to be calling him a Hall of Famer.