The NBA is defined by the collective of stars and their rivalries over the course of their careers. Two such stars who featured in various duels including their own personal ones were Paul Pierce and Allen Iverson.
The ‘Truth’ and The ‘Answer’ were franchise cornerstones from the early stages of their career. Two Eastern Conference powerhouses, the Celtics and the Sixers had committed to the talent of these two young stars to build contenders around.
Despite being from the same conference, however, the two stars faced off against each other in the Playoffs only once. This face-off took place during the 2002 Eastern Conference First Round.
And Paul Pierce has an anecdote from the series as to how he motivated himself to beat Iverson’s Sixers. And, spoiler alert – It includes Jack Nicholson and Tom Cruise.
What did Paul Pierce describe as the ‘coldest sh*t’ ever and as his motivation to beat Allen Iverson?
The “Truth” was the star of the Celtics team looking to advance beyond the first round of the Playoffs, in 2002. The young forward was establishing himself as a known quantity in the league at the time. And in his way was none other than Allen Iverson, who had already made a trip to the NBA Finals.
The “Answer” was clearly the more popular and proven star of the two. And Pierce needed to be at his personal best to win their duel.
In the deciding Game 5, Pierce put on a show. And the TD Garden crowd definitely appreciated the performance. During the performance, a tribute video ensued – which Pierce described as the “coldest sh*t ever” and as a major injection of hype-driven confidence for him.
When asked about what he remembers about that eventful series, this is exactly what Pierce recalled first. “We was in the timeout and we up on them in Game 5. They put on the projector, the quote from a Few Good Men. This is in Boston, the closeout game. And I’m having a great game. They put up on the projector, the Jack Nicholson clip. ‘I want the truth. You can’t handle the truth’ and the crowd went crazy. Because, you know, AI is The Answer. I’m The Truth. I was like, that might have been the coldest sh*t”.
Pierce’s description is truly goosebumps-worthy. To have the entire TD Garden crowd hype you up against one of the biggest stars in the league would have been quite something indeed.
How did Paul Pierce get his moniker – “The Truth”?
Despite only being drafted in 1998, Pierce had become “The Truth” by 2002. Pierce had earned his nickname in 2001, with none other than Shaquille O’Neal bestowing the nickname on him.
Paul Pierce had dropped 42 on the Shaq and Kobe Lakers in 2001 during the regular season. This performance was what prompted O’Neal to delve into his bag of compliments. The youngster became “The Truth” from that very day.
“My name is Shaquille O’Neal and Paul Pierce is the motherf***ing 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” stated the Big Diesel on that night. And the name became part of NBA lore.