When Doc Rivers reunited with Paul Pierce last summer and brought him to the Clippers, it wasn’t just a lingering nostalgia for their time together with the Celtics, although that certainly didn’t hurt. It was at least partially because he wanted another veteran voice in the locker room, someone whose competitive bravura would rub off on the rest of the team.
Pierce, although in a drastically-reduced role at this late stage of his career, did precisely that. He’s not only one of the best all-time trash talkers in league history; he apparently ferrets out all sorts of interesting, creative ways to get motivated. So is it any wonder that he was actively rooting for the Warriors to make history and get to 73 wins, overtaking the ’96 Bulls’ regular-season record, just so he and the Clippers would have a chance to spoil their miraculous season by knocking them out of the playoffs?
That’s exactly what Pierce told Howard Beck in his fantastic profile for Bleacher Report chronicling the team’s heartbreaking postseason demise:
“I’ve always been one that wanted the biggest challenges,” Pierce says. “I wanted them to get 73 wins, so we have an opportunity to play them and ruin their season. I hope everyone else feels the same way in this locker room—to say, ‘Look, we’re going to be that team that put the Golden State Warriors out of the playoffs.'”
This might be the most Paul Pierce thing that Paul Pierce has ever said. But alas, it was never meant to be. Instead, the Clippers’ season came to a painful, demoralizing conclusion, and now Beck and the rest of the NBA world are left wondering whether we’re bearing witness to the end of Lob City as we know it.