For most Los Angeles Lakers fans, Paul Pierce‘s name brings a certain disdain and dislike as he was a villain who had no issues sticking it to them in the 2008 NBA Finals.
The Boston Celtics won in six games, blowing out the Lakers in the final game and Pierce would go on to win the 2008 NBA Finals Most Valuable Player award.
Although the Lakers would eventually get their revenge in the 2010 NBA Finals, Pierce remained an unpopular player for fans even after his tenure with the Celtics was over. His on-court attitude and demeanor, especially playing for Boston, made him easy to hate but he seemed to revel in it.
However, Pierce grew up in Inglewood and was a massive Lakers fan growing up in Southern California. In an episode of ‘All The Smoke’ with Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson, Pierce discussed his Lakers fandom prior to becoming a Celtic, as transcribed by CBS Los Angeles:
“I have a Lakers sweater I used to wear everyday to school,” Pierce remembered. “It was a hoodie. Who could not be a Laker fan? I grew up right down the street from the Forum, right there in Inglewood, watching Magic. I hated the Celtics. You from LA, let alone Inglewood, where the Forum is, of course you’re a Laker fan. How could you not be? So that’s what makes it real ironic when I was drafted to the Celtics.”
Anyone who grew up a Lakers fan in the 1980s viewed the Celtics as their rival and enemy given their epic battles in the NBA Finals during that decade. The two teams met three times during that span with Los Angeles winning the match up 2-1. Magic Johnson and Larry Bird headlined those battles and the two revitalized the NBA and helped it become the global sport and brand it is today.
Pierce is one of the best basketball players to come out of the Los Angeles area and he is sure to make the Hall of Fame at some point due to his impressive professional basketball resume. He was a 10-time All-Star player with a championship and Finals MVP to round out his accolades, making his case a solid one at the very least.
While it would have been fun to see Pierce don the purple and gold at some point in his career, his presence on those Celtics teams helped create some of the most intense and enjoyable games for fans to watch.