Boston Celtics captain Paul Pierce surpassed Larry Bird on the all-time Celtics scoring list on Tuesday night in a 94-84 win over the visiting Charlotte Bobcats.
Pierce entered the game with 21,782 career points, needing 10 more to surpass the NBA Hall of Famer. Now only John Havlicek has scored more points than Pierce for the famed franchise.
For Pierce, 34, the milestone was a looming reminder of the past few days, and entering the game Tuesday night, it was apparent to the fans that packed out the TD Banknorth Garden.
“I’m not going to lie, it was hanging over my head too much,” Pierce told ESPN after the game. “How could it not? With every deep breath that the crowd was taking, every shot that went up, it was just like, you could just feel it. And it was hard to really ignore it and really focus on the game.”
With his second shot of the second half, Pierce sunk a 3-pointer, surpassing Bird and erasing his frustrating three for 10 shooting in the first half.
“It was a relief once I hit that one three, so I could really concentrate and focus on the game,” Pierce said.
Pierce finished the game with 15 points on 6-18 shooting, bringing his point total to 21,797.
The Celtics drafted Pierce 10th overall in the 1998 draft, and he has been a starter for Boston ever since. Like Bird, Pierce has stayed put and resisted the latest trend of forming blockbuster teams. Instead, he stayed in Boston and helped bring the 17th NBA Championship to the Celtics.
“It’s just awesome,” said Celtics Head Coach Doc Rivers. “You’ve got to have several things. One is longevity. The second thing is health. And the third thing is you’ve got to be old as hell because you’ve got to stick around a long time. And the fourth thing: You’ve got to play some amazing basketball.”
Currently, Pierce is 28th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, and it is figured that he will need to play the next three years to pass John Havlicek.
Kevin Garnett, who is 19th on the all-time scoring list, led the Celtics with 22 points, and Rajon Rondo added 14 assists as the Celtics extended their season-long win streak to five games, bringing their season record to 14-10.
The Celtics will host the Los Angeles Lakers, 14-11, Thursday night.