Just 90 miles west of where he made an indelible mark on one of the most storied franchises in the league and the NBA at-large, Paul Pierce took his place among basketball’s legends.
The Truth was officially inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Saturday, “humbled” by the honor from his peers, the ovation from the large segment of Celtics fans in attendance in Springfield, Mass. and particularly the words of his inductor, 2020 Basketball Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be a Hall of Famer,” Paul admitted to start off his speech, you know, the initial dream as a kid is to make it to the league. You don’t really dream too far like, I want to be a Hall of Famer. You don’t say that as a kid. Now, to be enshrined in basketball lore, is more than I could ever imagine.”
In a speech nearly 15 minutes in length, Paul recapped his journey to this point. He started with love for his family, thanking his mother two older brothers, and his uncle Mike, who he called a “father figure.” Paul then talked about his relationship with his high school coach Pat Roy, who first planted the thought of playing in the NBA in Paul’s head.
“I never thought about being in the NBA. I just wanted to go to college The Truth admitted. “You planted the seed. You made me believe…I’m thankful for that.”
He then spoke about a mentor, Inglewood Police Officer Scott Collins and his best friend Jay Crowe and his college coach Roy Williams.
He then moved on to the Celtics organization, where The Truth spent the bulk of his career. Before getting to them, he thanked all the teams that passed on him in the 1996 NBA Draft, allowing him to fall to Boston at No. 10.
“Coming out of college I was a first team All-American, projected No. 2 pick,” he said. “I’d like to thank the Clippers, Vancouver Grizzlies, Denver Nuggets, Toronto Raptors, Golden State Warriors, Dallas Mavericks, Sacramento Kings, Philadelphia 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks, the nine teams that passed on me. Thank you. Thank you. I appreciate that. Thank you for passing on me and adding fuel to my fire.”
Among Paul’s influences in Boston, he cited Rick Pitino and Lester Conner, Celtics coaches when he was drafted, as well as Danny Ainge, Wyc Grousbeck, Steve Pagliuca and Doc Rivers, Garnett and Derrick and Tony Battie, who he credited with saving his life after he was stabbed at a nightclub in 2001.
Before leaving the stage Paul thanked his agent and gave a special shoutout to his children.
My last words are to my kids. Never doubt that you are valuable and powerful, and deserving of every opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your dreams. Remember, you only fail when you stop trying. Never forget that whatever you go through, no matter what, I will always love you.”
Watch the full speech below.