In his article this morning, Gary Washburn wondered whether Paul Pierce was the greatest player ever born in L.A.
There have been some great players from the Los Angeles area, including Marques Johnson, Gail Goodrich, Byron Scott, Reggie Theus, and Paul Westphal, and Pierce has joined that group. He is on the verge of the 20,000-point mark. An eight-time All-Star and the 2008 NBA Finals MVP, he could be poised to join the Mount Rushmore of Celtic greats.
That arguably makes him the best player ever to emerge from the Los Angeles area.
With that list, is it even close? Don’t get me wrong, there are some very good players on that list — Pierce is simply better than all of them. With Pierce’s longevity as a star and Finals MVP award under his belt, he’s the best player ever to come from L.A. (as long as Washburn’s list is complete) and there is no real argument. Of course, it’s a holiday and I’m too lazy right now to check if Washburn’s list has every L.A. great — I guess I’ll just have to trust him that it does.
Even Marques Johnson, probably the second-best from L.A., agrees with me that Pierce is the city’s greatest. ”The fact he has led a team to a championship, he’s threatening to etch his name on the top of that list,” Johnson said. “It’s hard for me to give it up, I give it up begrudgingly, but when you look at his total body of work, you have to.”
Johnson then continued to describe a cool story of Pierce competing — and more than holding his own — against professionals when Pierce was only 15 or 16.
“Paul was killing, and I am thinking he was a pretty solid 14-year-old,’’ Johnson said. “And when I asked his coach how old he was, he was like, ‘12 or 13,’ and he was a year or two younger than the rest of the guys. And it was like, ‘OK, this kid here is special.’ And I watched him play at UCLA against pros when he was about 15 or 16 and he was able to do things real effortlessly. When a kid looks like he belongs and excels and dominates at times, you know he was a special player. And we’ve always known he was a special player. I am really, really proud of the way his career has taken off.’’
Washburn wrote a nice piece but I disagree with the two concluding sentences, a quote from Johnson.
“I think we are living vicariously through Paul, whatever he does, we back in LA are proud of him. He represents us.”
At one point, perhaps it was true that Pierce represented L.A. At this point, and I think Pierce would agree with me, he represents Beantown.