The first sign of trouble was a sore knee that wouldn't respond to treatment and forced Pierce to undergo "minor" surgery on Dec. 23, 2009, to clean out an infection. Doctors warned him that fluid would build up in the repaired knee, but Pierce wasn't expecting to have it drained nearly every week. Sometimes, Pierce said, the knee would "pop open," squirting foul liquid across the locker room.
"If you are interested, I have the video to prove it," he said.
It happened moments before the Celtics took the court for a Jan. 29 game at Atlanta, and, to the horror of his teammates, Pierce cleaned himself (and his uniform) up to the best of his ability, then went out and dropped 35 points on the Hawks in a team-high 37 minutes.
And so it went for the next three months, as Pierce's "geyser" knee often erupted without warning. The release of the fluid helped the flexibility in the joint, but also prevented him from rehabilitating the injury properly.
Squirting foul liquid out of your knee before a game? And then dropping 35 points? Pierce is one tough bastard.
Talk of Pierce's ability to fight through injury sparked a Twitter debate between myself. Jon Duke of Celtics Stuff Live, John, Mr. Triple Double and CeltsFan 33. Duke has Pierce as the all-time toughest Celtics player. The rest of us are going with Bird.