Paul Pierce and Kobe Bryant: The Truth and The Mamba
Paul Pierce grew up hating the very team that he plays for and swears his NBA life on. Yet he has come to embody the spirit of what it means to be a Boston Celtic. He is one of only two Hall-Of-Fame caliber players who have won and lost to each other this decade in the championship round. The other is Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers.
Kobe's modus operandi is a series of quick striking and deadly moves which will assuredly snatch victory from defeat. Pierce is more of a paint- by- numbers guy who punishes you with his solid frame.
Yet he too can burn his defender with his herky-jerky moves when the game is on the line.
Bryant's first three championships were overshadowed by Shaquille O'Neal's massive personality. It wasn't until the 2008-2009 that a process of reinvention brought the two together on the ultimate level.
Like Larry Bird, Pierce's team grabbed the gold ball first at the expense of the purple and gold. Two years later, Kobe was able to return the favor while grabbing his fifth ring.
Pierce and Bryant revived a dormant rivalry even though Bryant tried his best to downplay the discussion on his way to getting the aforementioned ring. Furthermore, they have given young NBA fans a glimpse of what the rivalry means to both the Celtic and Laker organization.
The feelings run so deep that retired players refuse to support the others team regardless of their current allegiance. Byron Scott who is presently coaching the Cleveland Cavaliers will attest to that.
This is what makes the revival of this legacy rivalry and "The Truth's" story so remarkable. He had the chance to bolt to the team he grew up watching when he had the opportunity. His first chance was after the unfortunate night-club incident where he was stabbed on September 25th, 2000. He probably could have found a way to get there if he had pressured his agent enough.
Instead he stayed, he never complained as each year Celtic management sacrificed wins for a chance at the number one pick.
All his years of loyalty and sacrifice showed in the tears that flowed as he addressed the crowd after receiving his first championship ring in 2008.
Bryant was a little more verbal and not to diplomatic while asking for help. He was caught on tape insulting teammate Andrew Bynum and flirted with the concept of remaining in L.A. but playing as a Clipper instead. He opted to stay, because that is where he knew he had a measurable standard for greatness. The same could be said for Pierce's decision to stay with the Boston Celtics.
The media does its best to push LeBron James ahead of Pierce when talking about championship pedigree. However Pierce has beaten James everytime it mattered. He did it most recently, at home and on the road this season against the assembly off James and the Superfriends in South Beach.
It makes for an interesting argument when Pierce's squad has already beaten the gang in purple and gold in June. Try as they might, basketball pundits cannot deny that fact and put LeBron in the discussion of legacy champions.
Pierce and Bryant built their success from a desire to finish what they started, and a competitive drive that enforces the tenet of their organizations.
Undoubtedly, The Truth and the Mamba can call each other contemporary, peer and brother.