"Take this down," said Shaq. "My name is Shaquille O'Neal and Paul Pierce is the motherfucking truth. Quote me on that and don't take nothing out. I knew he could play, but I didn't know he could play like this. Paul Pierce is the truth."
Kobe Bryant may be the regular season MVP. And LeBron may be "King James." But in the Eastern Semi-Finals and the NBA Finals, Celtic Paul Pierce outplayed them on both ends of the court, shutting them down on defense when he needed to, scoring at will when he needed to, and playing some of the best team defense and team offense you're ever going to see. Paul Pierce showed he's the best basketball player on the planet today.
And you can add this too--Kobe Bryant may have the physical skills, but he ain't never going to be Michael Jordan. He doesn't have the character.
I'm a New York kid (and long-suffering Knick fan) lost in my adopted home of LA amongst rabid Lakers fans. But I follow the code I learned growing up on the streets of New York--in the finals, you always root for the Eastern team. And this year that team was the long-hated Boston Celtics. And what a Celtic team it was--led by Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett (reportedly Bulls fan Barack Obama's favorite player), it was right up there with the Cousy/ Russell/Havlicek Celtics and the Bird/McKale/ Parrish Celtics.
I'm not sure I'll enjoy anything as much as watching the Celtics crush the Lakers in Game 6 until I get to watch Barack Obama take the oath of office next January. Along with politics and the fight for social justice, basketball and jazz--those two great mostly African American demonstrations of improvisational prowess--are among the loves of my life (right after my family).
And speaking of family, my prayers go out to Ray Allen--one of the great pure shooters of all time--who discovered in the past two days that his 17-month old child has diabetes and despite arriving back in Boston sleepless after an all-night flight, tied the record for 3-point shots in an NBA finals.
Ray Allen, may your family be well.
Kevin Garnett, I don't know what planet you were born on, but you're something else.
And Paul Pierce, you're the motherfucking truth.