Pierce, KG Enjoy Milestone Night Together
BOSTON – Forget about Tuesday night’s debacle in Charlotte. Wednesday was Milestone Night at TD Garden.
The Celtics grabbed a blowout victory over the Raptors but it was Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett who stole the show with their historic nights. The two future Hall of Famers combined to achieve three incredible career milestones in a span of just 50 minutes.
First to step onto the milestone platform was Garnett, who finished with 12 points on the night. His fourth point of the game, which arrived via a signature jumper at the 10:03 mark of the second quarter, moved him past Jerry West and into sole possession of 15th place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.
It didn’t take long for Pierce to join Garnett at the milestone platform. It also didn’t take Pierce long to cross two milestones off of his to-do list. Only 62 seconds of playing time ticked off of the game clock between Pierce’s 10th and 11th points of the game. Each of those points helped him hit a landmark number.
Pierce’s 10th point arrived at the 8:05 mark of the third period and moved him past Charles Barkley for 20th on the league’s all-time scoring list. Shortly thereafter, Pierce hit another free throw that moved him past Allen Iverson for 10th on the league’s all-time free throws made list.
Stop yourself and take a moment to let all of this settle in. Garnett and Pierce took steps up the NBA ladder over Jerry West, Charles Barkley and Allen Iverson.
Did you know that Jerry West is literally the logo of the NBA? Did you know that Barkley and Iverson are each former league MVPs who are easily two of the greatest players in the history of the game?
West. Barkley. Iverson.
They’re all in the rearview mirror.
“When you guys are telling me that I’m surpassing somebody that I used for these different (motivational) reasons, it’s another form of feeling, it’s another form of emotion,” Garnett explained in Boston’s locker room. “Someday I’ll probably sit back and actually think about and it’ll probably mean something, but the one word I just keep thinking about is that I’m flattered.”
Garnett, who also moved into 10th place on the all-time rebounds list on March 6 in Indiana, is humbled by his accomplishments. He understands who he is passing in the record books, but a hint of disbelief shows through in his body language and tenor while he acknowledges his milestones.
As any Boston fan would expect, Pierce is the exact same way. He is as modest as they come – though he often chimes that he is the “greatest shooter of all time” – and he recognizes that surpassing Sir Charles himself is nothing to blink at.
As Pierce put it Wednesday night, “I think I’m going to appreciate it because... it’s Charles Barkley. You know what I’m saying?
“When you pass a guy like Barkley, one of the greatest players that ever played the game, it says a lot.”
It says that you have put together one of the most illustrious careers in the history of our sport.
It says that you have worked your tail off to perfect your craft for a long, long time.
It says that you have been durable and reliable for an unthinkable amount of games.
It says that you are the essence of greatness, and that is what Wednesday was all about. This was a celebration of greatness that called for two separate resounding standing ovations from the TD Garden faithful.
Each of those moments was special in its own right. A packed house was able to cheer for its heroes, and those heroes were provided an opportunity to cheer for each other at memorable stages of their respective careers. How often does that happen on one single night?
Pierce and Garnett were able to do all of this together, and to them, that’s the best part.
“It’s special,” Garnett said. “It’s best to do it with a personal friend. Not just a teammate, but a real friend. Someone that knows you, knows your family, knows where you come from and vice versa. Knows the things that motivate you and push you. I always tell people I’ve got the greatest seat in the house to watch one of the best players in NBA history put the ball in the basket every night. It’s special to be able to do it with him.”
It’s special for Pierce to be able to do it with Garnett, too.
“It’s an honor just being out there with Kevin,” Pierce told the media, far before Garnett even appeared from the depths of Boston’s locker room. “It feels like at this point Kevin is passing somebody every other night. It’s like every other game right now we’re standing up and giving him an ovation. It just goes to show you about his longevity, his hard work, him being one of the greats, and continuing to do it on a consistent basis.”
If you think this sounds like two sappy old teammates who are soaking up their final seasons together, you’re probably right. Pierce and Garnett love being each other’s teammate. Their words and emotions are genuine.
The sand may be sifting through their collective hourglass, but Pierce and Garnett are enjoying the ride as they experience their Milestone Nights together.
“We make a joke around here that every other two days someone’s making history,” Garnett said. “It’s not a bad joke to be a part of, though.”