Know The Truth

Shaquille O’Neal had an inordinate number of nicknames over his career: Shaq Diesel, The Big Aristotle, Shaq Daddy, The Big Shaqtus and countless others.

But it was a nickname that he gave to Paul Pierce that has stuck as well as any handle in NBA history.

It was the night of March 13, 2001. The Boston Celtics were nine games below .500 and set to miss the playoffs for the sixth straight season. Without much going their way, they were visiting their cross-country rival Los Angeles Lakers, who were near the midway point of their early 2000s three-peat dynasty.

Nets v Boston X Pierce

One of the lone bright spots for the C’s was Paul, a third-year swingman who was quietly having the best season of his career for a struggling team.

And on that night at the Staples Center, Paul didn’t buy into the Lakers championship hype. In just his 185th career appearance, he didn’t worry about Derek Fisher, Rick Fox or the Diesel down low.

The LA native simply took it to the Lakers for the best performance of his young career, as he went off for 42 points on 13-of-19 from the floor. He knocked down three triples, turned in 13 points from the charity stripe, and added six rebounds, two assists and four steals.

“That was probably my best game of my career at that point—in the Staples Center,” Paul said. “I really got into a hot zone.”

Paul Pierce #34 of the Boston Celtics shoots.

Despite a 28-point, 11-rebound game of his own, and a win for his Lakers, Shaq felt compelled to give Boston’s No. 34 the credit he deserved.

“Some special players just don’t get the props they deserve,” O’Neal said. “I figured that if I said something on a national basis, then it would stick.”

So after the game, the future Hall-of-Fame center who won four NBA titles, an MVP and three Finals MVP awards pulled aside Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald—and what he said would never be forgotten.

“Take this down: My name is Shaquille O’Neal, and Paul Pierce is the (expletive) truth,” said Shaq. “I knew the kid could play, but I didn’t know he could play like this. Quote me on that, and don’t take nothing out—Paul Pierce is the truth.

“He’s the truth because what he’s doing is not a lie. That’s what you should call him from now on.”


When Shaq speaks, those around the NBA listen. So everyone, fans, players, coaches and even Paul himself, did just that.

“That summer, it was kind of weird to me. Usually people call me P Squared, P Double, P. But my friends were like, ‘What’s up Truth?’ And I was like, that kind of has a good ring to it,” Paul recalled.

To earn that nickname, The Truth told the world about everything he could do on the floor: Driving dunks, staunch defense, step-back jumpers, long-range bombs and more. The phenomenal performance left the Lakers big man with his jaw agape.

“That day he just played like he was in the league nine, ten years,” Shaq said. “He just had a lot of poise, he didn’t panic—and he was doing it against the World Champs.”

The final score of that contest had LA as 112-107 victors, but after the fact, Paul talked about what Shaq and the nickname has meant to him over the course of his career.

“Coming from Shaq, it meant a lot,” Paul said. “Because you’re talking about one of the all-time great players. When I was in high school, I had a poster of Shaq on my wall.”

Boston Celtics v Cleveland Cavaliers

“You really don’t know what’s going to stick,” Paul said. “But at that time, being a young player, getting those type of comments from one of the greatest players, it does a lot for your confidence truthfully. That kind of thing really does a lot for a young player. Not a lot of guys get a nickname. You feel like you’ve got to live up to it.”

And so, the legend of The Truth was born.

2017-04-18T21:24:49+00:00 August 20th, 2014|

11 Comments

  1. Enes August 20, 2014 at 6:33 pm - Reply

    I want a CELTICS jersey signed by you. Miss you in Boston !!!!!!

  2. Pelly August 20, 2014 at 6:41 pm - Reply

    Paulie, Boston is forever grateful for your services. My most vivid memories were watching you grind during some horrible seasons(18 losses in a row) and never giving up on your way to becoming a World Champ. We miss you in Beantown, hoping Danny does right by you, signs you(even for 1 day) so that you can retire a Celtic.

    Can’t wait to see #34 hanging in the rafters in the TD!

  3. Mark B. August 20, 2014 at 7:49 pm - Reply

    One of the all-time great Kansas Jayhawks and Boston Celtics players. If you disagree, you clearly can’t handle The Truth.

  4. NRiz August 20, 2014 at 11:18 pm - Reply

    Paul you definitely are the truth, miss you as a celtic but in know you will always be a celtic at heart wish to see you retire a celtic legend. Also hope to see you get another ring, if only KG would be with you on the wizard team, you are an absolute duo true B Ballers, hats off to the true players.

  5. Frcka August 21, 2014 at 2:20 am - Reply

    The Answer

  6. Alexis August 21, 2014 at 2:58 am - Reply

    You were my favorite player as a kid. I had your jersey on every day. I hope to meet you one day Truth. Thank you for inspiring me. I cried when you and KG were honored back at the TD garden.

  7. Evelisa August 21, 2014 at 7:30 am - Reply

    I miss seeing u in green & white…my favorite basketball player of all time! I love u!

  8. Mikey August 21, 2014 at 12:02 pm - Reply

    I hope he wins another ring this year, he deserves it. Still rocking my Pierce jerseys, hope to see him back in Boston soon!

  9. Elvis September 17, 2014 at 5:33 pm - Reply

    Paul you made me love the sport of basketball I started watching the Celtics in 2001 when you went through a tough time of your career but the 2002 season I will never forget I liked that team I wish you got to face the Lakers in the 2002 finals. Every season I have watched the Celtics because of you this past year was the first year where I have not been watching every game like when you used to play. Paul I hope you win championship with the Wizards and even though you playing with John Wall make sure you are the leader of the time and take over the game with your offense please shoot the ball. Hoping you will average around 18 PPG this year. I wish KG was with you as a Wizard. Please play one last season in Boston I would like to see you play at the Garden one last season. You are a true leader and will always be the best NBA player ever to me. THE TRUTH you are a true celtic. I believe you can win it all this year get that second ring!!!

  10. Elvis September 19, 2014 at 7:16 pm - Reply

    I was watching the video about the truth and Paul you should start wearing the truth armband again. Looks great on you and reminds me when Paul was a true scorer. Just wish it was a green armband but red or white is good too.

  11. […] PaulPierce.net explains where “The Truth” came from. […]

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