It's the morning after… and its still soaking in.
“I think the second round of the postseason, Game 7, these fans finally have an opportunity to forget a little bit about what Larry Bird and Dominique Wilkins did and remember what Paul and LeBron did,” said LeBron James. “Two great guys just going at it. Two of the best league"
The whole world was waiting for LeBron James to explode… and he did. The whole world, however, wasn't expecting Paul Pierce to be better. And he WAS better.
Pierce worked his game within the offense… while LeBron dribbled for 18 seconds and made his move. Pierce shot more efficiently… hustled more… and shouldered a greater burden. These were, after all, the mighty Celtics at home. Pierce was carrying history… not just a team… on his shoulders. This isn't to say LeBron wasn't awesome. He was. Pierce was just better.
What we witnessed was "the moment." It's a defining game with defining images. The free throw that bounced 3 feet above the rim before falling. The dive on the jump ball. These are things we'll see in slow motion at his Hall of Fame induction ceremony (and there will be a Hall of Fame induction ceremony). They'll be on the Jumbotron tomorrow night… right before the Pierce "LET ME HEAAAARRRRR IT!!!!!"
I write this not to rehash the words that have already been written. I write this because 20 years from now, some 35 year old guy will say "I'll never forget that game back in '08… when Pierce and LeBron went toe to toe. I became a die-hard fan that day." I write this because Paul Pierce has been under-appreciated for far too long… both in Boston, and nationally. I write this because last night, Paul Pierce did what only the most legendary of Celtics have ever done: personally will his team to victory in a playoff elimination game.
It's now time to move on and focus on Detroit. But Paul Pierce has started a chain of events that could… COULD… gain him entry into the pantheon of Celtics legends. Personally willing a team to a playoff victory is one thing. Taking over and willing your team to a championship… gets you the Golden Ticket.
Herald: Pierce, Celtics get last word | Pierce, LeBron stir memories of '88 | Pierce steers C's into next round | Despite heroics, LeBron reduced to spectator | Brown provides blast from past in 4th | Pistons, a familiar foe, coming to town | Garden erupts in House party | Healthy Billups set for series | Mitch Albom: If Pistons play with desperation and fury, they can beat Celtics | Globe: Moment of Truth | Game fit for King, but James on losing end | Double Clutch | Game Photos | James: Tough call after loss | No bite to this cast | Allen's struggles continue | Brown big down the stretch | Souza: Survival | Post-deadline thoughts | Megliola: Truth takes mano-a-mano deal | Camerato: When LeBron James isn't enough | Game one tickets available | Plain Dealer: More heartbreak | Pierce unstoppable | LeBron's day will come | New Cavs needed more time together | Free Press: Celts talk Pistons | Pistons confident | SI: 5 reasons for Celtics bewilderment | ESPN Daily Dime