They starred in their own SportsCenter commercial.
Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett appeared in the memorable “Three Amigos” spot, in which the trio propose a string of possible nicknames for themselves to ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt. The anchor ends the debate by suggesting “The Boston Three Party.”
The promo was a fitting tribute to the threesome that propelled the Boston Celtics to the 2008 NBA Championship, the franchise’s first in 22 years.
That season was a perfect storm, combining three stars and potential Hall-of-Famers at precisely the right time to produce a title.
But, when the dust settles and their careers are long over, will they be in the Hall, after all?
Garnett is a heavy favorite, with more than 22,000 career points and 12,000 rebounds in 15 seasons. Still only 33, those numbers will climb even higher as his career continues.
But what about Pierce and Allen? Many view both as shoo-ins. But, if only one could make it, which one would it be? Here’s a quick comparison.
We’re talking about two of the most prolific scorers in the game today. However, where Allen may be the more deadly shooter, Pierce is the more tenacious scorer.
Pierce has averaged better than 22 points a game during his career; Allen hovers just above 20.
Also in Pierce’s favor: He’s third all time on the Celtics’ career scoring list behind only John Havlicek and Larry Bird. That puts him ahead of such legends as Parish, McHale, Cousy, Jones, Russell, and Cowens—Hall of Famers, all.
Both can pile up points in a hurry, but Allen’s strength is the outside shot. Pierce can go inside or outside with equal effectiveness, and come up with more ways to beat you.
Allen can play defense when he needs to but is and always has been known as a scorer, first and foremost. Although he was credited with doing a solid job on Kobe Bryant in the 2008 Finals, we’re talking about an entire body of work here.
Pierce has the size and ability to guard on the perimeter and in the paint. He often draws an opponent’s top offensive threat and is capable of a shut-down effort at the defensive end.
Both Allen and Pierce have averaged slightly under four assists per game over their careers.
Pierce is effective at creating scoring opportunities for teammates and hitting the open man with entry passes.
Allen is the better ball-handler, however, and can break down a defense with his dribbling as well as passing. The difference is slight, but…
As an 80 percent career free throw shooter, Pierce is decent, but not among the elite. He barely cracks the top 200 all-time.
Allen, on the other hand, is lights-out from the charity stripe. His 89.3 percent success rate is currently fifth in NBA history—right behind Hall-of-Famer Rick Barry and just ahead of Hall of Famer Calvin Murphy.
Not much of a contest here, although Allen’s career average of 4.4 per game is solid for a guard.
Pierce has been a model of consistency on the boards during his career, averaging 6.2 a game over his 12 seasons without any extreme highs or lows (until a more notable dropoff this year). His career best came in 2002-03, when he averaged 7.3 rebounds a contest.
Allen’s shot is so pure that it’s hard to vote against him. He’s shown the ability to knock it down when the pressure’s on.
However, Pierce has done so more convincingly. He has also carried a team farther than Allen ever did on his own.
After Pierce joined the Celtics in 1998, they finished fifth in their division for the next three seasons. In his fourth year, however, Pierce led Boston to a second-place division finish and, more significantly, the NBA Finals. It would be the first of four straight playoff appearances for the Celtics.
In more dramatic ways at more significant times, he has taken his team on his back, and delivered.
Pierce has remained the Celtics’ on-court leader, even since the arrival of Allen and Garnett. Allen may be the outside threat, and Garnett the emotional soul, but Pierce leads the team with his on-court actions and isn’t afraid to step up and take the last shot when the game is on the line.
In the end, both Allen and Pierce may get the call to be enshrined in Springfield.
But part of the fun of Bleacher Report is the opportunity to debate just about everything and anything in the world of sports.
Pierce? Allen? Maybe both—but if there was room for only one, the edge would have to go to Paul Pierce.