High praise for Pierce

Mark L. Baer/US Presswire

Honored on Friday, Paul Pierce earned high praise from those around him.BOSTON -- With Paul Pierce being honored with the New England Baptist Hospital Community Champion Award at the Celtics' annual Tip-Off Gala Friday night, members of the organization were asked to share their favorite stories or memories of Pierce.

President of basketball operations Danny Ainge and head coach Doc Rivers both pointed to memorable moments during the team's 2008 championship run.

"Well my most emotional Paul Pierce memory is when we beat Detroit in the Eastern Conference Finals and what he said to me on the floor," said Rivers. "That was the most emotional and that's the one I remember the most."

Said Ainge: "I mean, I'll never forget [Pierce] diving on the floor for the loose ball in '08. That was my favorite play of that entire season when Paul got that jump ball. And, you know, [41] points in Game 7. I mean, that's just what Paul is made of.

Pierce's teammates had varied answers, with the newest Celtic, Leandro Barbosa, acknowledging that he's always admired Pierce from afar.

"I was always a fan of Paul Pierce. I don't think he knows that," said Barbosa, adding that he's excited to suit up alongside Pierce for the first time on Tuesday. "But I always was a big fan of him. I've watched him play many, many years and for me to play by his side is special for me."

Jason Terry, another new teammate who hasn't suited up for a regular season game with Pierce just yet, discussed a playful rivalry they've developed.

"The one I look back on for me, is I'm a 3-point shooter. We looked at the list the other day, I'm four, he's nine, so we've been having some duels after practice, some shooting contests," Terry said. "Overseas when we were there, we had some contests. It's a friendly rivalry, but we challenge each other and push each other to be the best."

Avery Bradley alluded to Pierce's typical reaction after he scores a basket.

"After he scores, when he does this Paul Pierce -- we call it the west coast Paul Pierce celebration," Bradley said. "I love when he does it. It kind of gives me goosebumps."

Jeff Green, meanwhile, had perhaps the most humorous story. He said before Friday's practice, a Pierce dunk attempt didn't go according to plan.

"We had one today, actually. Myself, Kris Joseph, Paul, and Courtney Lee, we played 1-on-1 before practice," explained Green. "We always clown like him, [Kevin Garnett], about them being up in years. But today he tried to dunk on Kris, and it wasn't as successful as he wished, which is kind of funny. But we all laugh and joke, but for them to be around as long as they have and to produce as well as they do, it's remarkable. You don't see it too often."